History is part of the landscape in Outlook

From the SkyTrail Bridge to the Gardiner Dam, visitors can learn about the history that made Outlook the verdant river town it is today

Campers parked by the river looking out toward the SkyTrail Bridge.
The famous SkyTrail Bridge in Outlook, Saskatchewan, was used to carry trains across the South Saskatchewan River. Now it is Canada’s longest pedestrian bridge. — Lisa Vanderwiel photo

More than a century has passed since a CP Rail officer stood on the banks overlooking the South Saskatchewan River and declared, “What a wonderful outlook.” With those four words, he forever set the tone of this town that is aptly known as Outlook, Saskatchewan.

Indeed a beautiful town, Outlook was a product of the railroad, and it saw a huge influx of settlers in 1908, after CP Rail started auctioning lots. Buildings went up overnight, stores were opened and less than a year later, Outlook was declared a town. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tour the museum

Visitors can start their historical exploration of this town at the Outlook & District Heritage Museum.

Located in an old railroad station, the museum is home to more than 3,000 photographs and artifacts, as well as a CP Rail caboose. To give it an authentic feel, rooms in the museum are designed around specific themes. Be sure to check out the parlour room and hospital room, and take a look at the kitchen to see how early settlers prepared meals for their families.

Several events are hosted at the museum, and there is always someone there to share stories about the area.

A photo of the front of the Outlook & District Heritage Museum in Outlook.
Step inside the aged railway terminal that is now home to the Outlook & District Heritage Museum to learn about the history of this area and its early settlers. — photo courtesy Outlook Tourism

See the dam

Many of the local farmers in Outlook rely on water supplied by Lake Diefenbaker, but Lake Diefenbaker wouldn’t exist were it not for the Gardiner Dam being erected in 1967.

Located just 38 kilometres (24 miles) south of Outlook, the Gardiner Dam stands 64 metres (210 feet) high and spans almost five kilometres (three miles). It is the third largest embankment dam in Canada, and it has the capacity to discharge 7,500 cubic metres (264,860 cubic feet) of water per second.

Today, visitors can drive across the dam and if they are lucky, see water gushing down the dam’s spillway. It is a sight to behold. More about the history of the Gardiner Dam and how it was built can be found at the interpretive centre, which is adjacent to the dam.

Canada’s longest pedestrian bridge

The most famous attraction in Outlook is the SkyTrail Bridge, and it too, boasts a fascinating history.

Constructed in the early 1900s, the SkyTrail Bridge uses steel that was recycled from a bridge near Montreal, Quebec. For 75 years, the SkyTrail Bridge carried trains loaded with wheat, lumber and other materials across the South Saskatchewan River, but it was decommissioned and later converted to a foot bridge. At more than 45 metres (150 feet) above the water, the bridge offers visitors a splendid aerial view of Outlook and area with interpretive signs along the way.

Like anything, though, the history of the SkyTrail bridge is constantly evolving. About three years ago, it was closed, due to safety concerns, but since it is an integral part of the Trans Canada Trail, there is hope the SkyTrail bridge will open again soon. For now, visitors will have to enjoy this marvel of engineering from the walking paths underneath its towering heights.

More information about the SkyTrail Bridge and other attractions in Outlook can be found on the Town of Outlook’s website.

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