CRUISING THE RIVER IN STYLE!
Shearwater’s classic riverboat The Prairie Lily offers scheduled sightseeing tours, dinner cruises and charter services on the South Saskatchewan River downtown in Saskatoon.
Shearwater River Cruises has been delivering boat tours since the early nineties, beginning with birding tours at nearby Redberry Lake, part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve bearing the same name. In 1996, the company built a covered open-decked tour-boat for the city market, and in 2002 purchased the Queen of Ottawa (a canal-boat from the Rideau Canal in Ottawa). In 2008, Shearwater brought in the 45-foot Lady Chesley from Lake Winnipeg. In 2011, the company expanded with new investment and expertise, and went on a search for a riverboat which would better serve the needs of a growing city and also reflect the riverboat heritage of Saskatoon and, indeed, the whole province.
In 2012, the new company – Shearwater River Cruises Ltd. – purchased the former Fiesta Queen, from a company in Laughlin, Nevada. This relatively new vessel, manufactured in Wisconsin at the Skipperliner ship yard in 1989, has a registered tonnage of 107 tons, is 65 feet long and has two full passenger decks. (The main deck features climate-controlled passenger lounges, with a small galley and a full bar; the upper deck has open-air seating with a canopy.)
The company has received a number of tourism accolades and nominations, including Tourism Saskatchewan Rookie of the Year Award in 1996, Land of Living Skies Award (Finalist) 2005, Tourism Saskatchewan Marketing Excellence Awards in 2007 and 2009, Service Excellence (Finalist) 2010, and Business of the Year Award (Finalist) 2012.
In 2013, two of the company Directors co-founded (along with nationally-recognized archaeologist Butch Amundson) the Prairie Steamship Heritage Association, to celebrate and recognize the pioneering role played by large passenger and freight vessels on the Saskatchewan River. This heritage initiative has its roots in a 2008 event, when Shearwater entered into a (volunteer) joint venture with engineering consulting firm Stantec and the Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services’ river rescue unit to undertake an underwater archaeological “dig” for artefacts from the 1908 sinking of the paddlewheeler City of Medicine Hat. One of Shearwater’s First Officers, Leanne Schinkel (a filmmaker by profession) has produced a full-length feature documentary about the sunken ship and her colourful owner, and the Captain’s Lounge on The Prairie Lily has a gallery of photographs of the shipwreck as well as 12 of the well-known steamships which sailed along the Saskatchewan river in the late 1800s.
The Prairie Lily sails on scheduled tours every day throughout the summer, departing from the company’s docks at the Mendel Art Gallery on Spadina Crescent downtown. The company also hosts dinner and luncheon cruises for chartered groups, Sunday Captain’s Brunch cruises and entertainment evenings. In 2013, the Lily is a venue for the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, offering dinner shows for 8 evenings).
You can find out more about the Lily at www.theprairielily.com, or by calling:
(306) 955-LILY(5459); out of town call toll free: 1-888-747-7572