July is when the egg-yolk-coloured Yellow Warblers sing at the pinnacles of trees, and the expectant energy of a sweltering summer day begins at dawn. The hot air makes the dappled shade of a forest refuge inviting to rabbits and humans alike. Ladybug hunters, grab your nets! Bumblebee-lovers check your flowers! The Catbirds are singing in Cosmopolitan Park, and it’s time to go on a walk.
Cosmopolitan Park (named Coronation Park until 1952) is an 11-hectare park located between the Broadway and University Bridges on the East side of the South Saskatchewan River. It may contain the most accessible natural space in Saskatoon, with easy parking on Saskatchewan Crescent or Broadway and trail connections to the University riverbank and Rotary Park. Several well-walked tracks will reward you with spectacular views of the Delta Bessborough and downtown Saskatoon. The three trails (upper, middle, and lower) range in difficulty from walkable with a stroller to ones where you should bring a good pair of shoes.
Chipmunk – Photo by Meghan Mickelson
There is a pleasant range of ecosystems through the park ranging from open meadow and young forest to mature Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo) and Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) on the lower slopes. There are great nature watching opportunities, a reliable list of around sixteen bird species in July, and many more plants, fungi, and insect species. Large rocks that protect the shoreline from erosion have become hiding spots for a raucous population of Chipmunks. Bank seeps, and storm sewer outlets provide sources of water for animals for most of the year. An abundance of berries (predominantly European Buckthorn, Chokecherry, Saskatoon, and Highbush Cranberry) provide ample food well into winter. Beavers, Snowshoe Hares, and at least one Porcupine are among the mammals that call this park home. Somewhat aptly, the park is also home to many cosmopolitan (globally distributed) species, like the House Sparrows and Kentucky Bluegrass.
Raven & Magpie – Photo by Adrian Werner
The park boasts a large grass area with large Lilac hedges and towering White Spruce closer to Broadway along the middle path. This is an excellent place for a picnic if you can find a shady spot. There are also ample benches to sit and people-watch if you are feeling more gregarious. A walk along the upper trail will provide you with tourist-worthy views of downtown Saskatoon. You will also find a collection of interpretive displays about Saskatoon’s urban development located just past 13th Street. The Pioneer Memorial Cairn, built by the Saskatoon Old Timers Association in 1952, cements the park’s association with Saskatoon’s settlement. However, there is little recognition of Indigenous peoples’ use of these places long before colonization, suggesting it may be time to add to that educational signage.
Cosmopolitan Park has it all, accessibility, a functional mix of tameness and wildness, several paths to keep it interesting, and a history lesson to boot! If that doesn’t convince you, try watching the sunset on a July evening from the benches near the University Bridge and watch the city lights on a perfect prairie evening.
– Adrian Werner & Sara Bryson
Yellow Warbler – Photo by Meghan Mickelson
Common Bushes and Trees Along the Trail
- Manitoba Maple
- Paper Birch
- Green Ash
- Red Osier Dogwood
- White Spruce (Planted)
- Lilac (Planted)
- Cotoneaster (Planted)
- Caragana (Planted/Introduced)
- European Buckthorn (Introduced/Invasive)
Best Bird Watching Site!
“Cosmopolitan Park and Lookout is one of the best bird watching sites in Saskatoon. During spring and fall migration, songbirds fill the area. Nesting birds take shelter in the under-storey of shrubs. In the winter time, you might even spot golden-eye or bufflehead ducks.”
View from the lower trail – Photo by Meghan Mickelson