Val Marie, population 126 (2016), is considered the gateway to the Grasslands National Park, with it being located adjacent to the West Block. Val Marie has a few services: a gas station, a hotel/bar, a museum (which also includes a gift shop, coffee shop and art gallery), a café, a campground, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, an old convent that has been converted to an inn, a movie theatre, yoga studio, a hockey arena and curling rink, a library, a community centre, a town square and a community owned grocery store. Some services are only available seasonally.
The nearest full-service centre is the city of Swift Current, located just over an hour to the north.
- 1 Grasslands National Park Visitor Centre (West Block), 101 Centre St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
The community of Val Marie – Valley of Mary – was founded in 1910 by Father Passaplan, Louis Denniel, and the brothers François and Léon Pinel. Most of the early settlers were ranchers and farmers from Quebec and France. Val Marie incorporated as a village on September 13, 1926. By 1939, two irrigation reservoirs were built near Val Marie by the PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Agency) in coordination with Ducks Unlimited. Over 10,000 acres (40 km²) are irrigated through the system which provides some stabilization through droughts which plague the area.
Originally settled by French ranchers, the village remained largely ethnically French and by the 1950s had 450 people. Amenities then included three gasoline stations, a hospital, convent, bakery, bank and several cafes and stores. The population declined significantly with low grain commodity prices and droughts in the 1980s. English is now universally spoken as the last unilingual Francophone resident died in 1981.
Val Marie is located at the intersection of Highways 4 and 18, about 120 km (75 mi) south of Swift Current and 360 km (220 mi) southwest of Regina. It is about 30 km (19 mi) from the Morgan-Monchy Border Crossing from Montana, USA, and about 120 km (75 mi) north of Malta, which has a train station on the Empire Builder Amtrak train.
The village is very small and is easily walkable; however, you will need a private car to get there.
- 1 Prairie Wind & Silver Sage, 100 Centre Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Includes an ecomuseum, art galleries, gift and book shop and coffee bar with Wi-Fi, all in the relaxed atmosphere of a municipal heritage red brick schoolhouse. The ecomuseum features prairie natural and cultural history exhibits of the Grasslands and Val Marie area. Open May-September.
- Farmer's Market and Craft Sale on the first Saturday of every month from June to September. Event takes place in front of their Historic Elevator located on the south end of Centre Street.
Eat & drinkEdit
- 1 The Convent Inn, 1st Ave., Val Marie, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The convent is a bed and breakfast providing lodging and breakfast for visitors to Val Marie Saskatchewan and Canada grasslands national park. The shared bathrooms are very clean. Excellent breakfast. From $59/night.
- 2 The Crossing at Grasslands (5 km S of Val Marie), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Three self-catering vacation suites, located on the edge of Grasslands National Park. Contains Mary’s Labyrinth, Canada’s first Legacy Labyrinth, a meditation or prayer circle nestled into the rolling landscape of the Frenchman (River) Valley.
- 3 Don's Place (½ km N of Val Marie on Hwy 4), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Fully furnished, self-contained suites with full kitchen facilities. One, two and three-bedroom units. Three separate rooms are hostel-type accommodation.
- 4 Sky Story Bed & Breakfast, 305 1st Avenue, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Environmentally friendly accommodation, amidst the work of Southwest Saskatchewan artists. Card carrying professional artists receive a 10% discount. WiFi and many other amenities. Open Year-round. Single $85, double $98.
- Grasslands National Park − Val Marie is adjacent to the West Block, with the East Block located about 2 hours to the east.
|Routes through Val Marie|
|The Battlefords ← Swift Current ← Jct W E ←||N S||→ → becomes → Malta → Lewistown|
|ENDS at ←||W E||→ Grasslands National Park → Estevan|