Gabriel Dumont Park

Gabriel Dumont Park is an oasis of calm and beauty right in the heart of Saskatoon, with something to offer everyone who needs a breath of fresh air.

Now that the colder weather has hit, there are signs of wildlife everywhere. Watch along the sides of the trail for tracks in the snow, including mice and voles, foxes, deer, magpies (wing marks from take off), and hares or rabbits. Among the tall grass and shrubs, you can also keep an eye out for mouse and vole holes, entrances to their elaborate snow-insulated tunnel system.

One reason the park is so rich in wildlife is that it is rich in food, especially seeds and fruits. See if you can identify berry bushes such as Highbush Cranberries, Pin Cherries, Chokecherries, and Saskatoons.

  • Notice when the birds and other wildlife snack on them and you may be tempted to take a nibble yourself!
  • Listen: can you hear the croaking of ravens, the squawks of blue jays, or the nasal beeps of nuthatches?

You’ll notice that the chickadees are so well fed from natural sources that they can’t be tempted (by gifts of seeds or peanuts) to eat from your hand. If you’re on a more relaxed adventure, take a moment to see if the birds and small rodents are eating or storing food.

This park is great for learning about beavers, too. You’ll notice that some large trees have been wrapped with wire to prevent beavers from felling them. Smaller tree stumps resembling the tip of a giant pencil are signs of beaver activity. Look closely around the point of the wood to see the teeth marks from their big, constantly growing front teeth! You can also see the trails that beavers make as they drag cut trees to the river. Can you find their lodge? What kinds of trees do they prefer as food and building materials?

Planted and native trees along the trail

  • Aspen
  • Manitoba Maple
  • Bur Oak
  • Paper Birch
  • Willow
  • Cherry
  • Pine
  • White Spruce

Birds to see and hear 

  • Black-billed magpie
  • Blue jay
  • Commn raven
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Common redpoll
  • Red and white-breasted nuthatches
  • Downy woodpecker

Even though the trees are now bare, they have a lot of stories to tell. Look at the way the trunks braid and twist. See if you can find the bulbous, papery nests of wasps hanging in the branches.

  • Look for the nests of birds, hidden away during the leafiness of summer but now exposed. Can you imagine the birds that made them and the nestlings that were raised there?
  • If you notice a flat wooden box attached to the trunk of the tree, think about the bats that took shelter therefeet up, heads down, fast asleep with a full belly of mosquitoesduring the long daylight hours of summer.

Gabriel Dumont Park has new wonders to offer at every time of year. In the spring, watch for buds and bugs that emerge just in time to support species returning from migration or emerging from hibernation. In the summer, enjoy the wildlife darting, dancing and diving around you. In the fall, notice how the tamarack trees glow brightly before dropping their golden needles in a soft heap. We invite you engage your senses and discover what this place has to offer throughout the year. Return often to pedal, paddle or pitter-patter your way through this thriving ecosystem in every season.

Sara Bryson and Nikki Moggey

How to get there

Access: by road from Saskatchewan Crescent West (right turn just past Rawlco Radio); by foot via the stairway at the west end of 8th Street West; or by heading north on the Meewasin Trail from Diefenbaker Park. Wheelchair and stroller access to the main trails from the parking lot.

Facilities: Crusher dust trails, plus informal paths and river views. Children’s playground. Heated washroom facilities available year-round. 

For more information: Check out the Saskatoon Nature Society’s A Guide to Nature Viewing Sites In and Around Saskatoon, available on loan from the Saskatoon Public Library and for purchase at Turning the Tide and McNally Robinson bookstores and directly from the Saskatoon Nature Society, purchase the book here.