By Belt Drive Betty

For the last four years we at Belt Drive Betty Media have been holding contests to find the Most Rider Friendly Communities in Canada.

Working alongside our presenting sponsor Community Futures, we have been working to connect rural Canada to the services that Community Futures can bring to bare in economic development.

Riders love having rural places to visit, away from the hubbub of the big cities and the heavily congested highways. Away from so many of the potential dangers, construction zones and, texting drivers to name a few.

Rural Canada will not survive without tourism. Farming alone isn’t enough with the family farm becoming the monster corporate farm. 

Riders and rural Canada need each other

So, what is it exactly, that makes a community Rider Friendly? Well it takes a few things. 

Number one, you want the ride to get to your community to be one that people can enjoy.

Number two, when they get there, you want them to have something to do.

Number three, while they are there, you want to make them feel so welcome, that they feel compelled to come back.

Hafford Saskatchewan is the reigning champion from the 2018 riding season. 

This small Saskatchewan town of 400 won the Rider Friendly Community Contest for the 2018 riding season.

Like many rural communities Hafford is fighting for survival but unlike some of the rural communities out there, Hafford has a couple of aces up its sleeve. For one, it has a unique flavor in that it celebrates its Ukrainian heritage in a way few towns celebrate their heritage.

The street signs are in English & Ukrainian

There are three churches in this small town, St. Solange Roman Catholic Parish, the Speers Pioneer Memorial United Church but the most celebrated is the Descent of the Holy Spirit Orthodox Church, Hafford, Saskatchewan pictured to the right. You see, at one time, Hafford was the largest Ukrainian settlement in Saskatchewan.

Hafford is ideally situated between North Battleford and Prince Alberta and only an hour away from Saskatoon.  

In between, and all around Hafford, there are many things to do. There is Redberry Lake, and the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, the Crooked Bush, The Popoff Tree, the Doukhobor Dugout House National Historic Site, The Sesula Mineral & Gem Museum in Radisson.

All of these very interesting things are literally in Hafford’s backyard.

In their front yard are bilingual signs, the interesting churches, the Hafford Co-op, Supreme Motorcycle & Auto Repair and the AM Bistro and Bakery. What most rural communities forget is that they have two commodities that can sometimes be hard to come by in other areas. REALLY, really good home cooked food and customer service that is friendly, genuine and heartfelt. The AM Bistro & Bakery is run by a local family, the food is amazing, and you cannot complain about the service. It’s attentive even when they are swamped busy!

In small towns, the pace is a little slower, so the big picture is easier to see.  For me the first draw was immediately evident with that first sip of corn chowder soup. Customer service and good food are two big draws to get riders to come out and guess what all those riders also drive vehicles.

The very fact that there are so many other attractions in the area, is a huge bonus!

Then I met Heather and Larry Dale from Supreme Motorcycle & Auto Repair and I saw the next draw.  Two big hearted people who want to make a difference for their communities – where they live in Hafford and for the riding community.

And then there are their secret weapons. Elk Burgers and INCREDIBLE music.

The Brothers G. A local band made up of 2 – 18-year old and one 22-year-old, whose voices belay ancient, old souls.

The Ride for Dad and other big events have used Hafford as a stop point, but Hafford also now has its own show ‘n’ shine that was a huge hit. Everyone that attended had a blast.  

Rural does not mean boring any more than Saskatchewan equals flat land.  You need to get off the beaten path of the Trans-Canada Highway to discover the real beauty of the rolling hills, rivers, valleys and coulees that are Saskatchewan. 

Hafford Saskatchewan IS Canada’s MOST Rider friendly Community and deservedly so.