Saskatoon Pie Milkshakes + a Caboose Cabin

Saskatoon pie milkshake Collage

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and working more hours than is probably good for me (or those I live with), and there have been extra obligations that have all added up to too much of everything, and not nearly enough sleep and W. And so on Friday we spontaneously decided to hop in the car and take off somewhere where there wasn’t a computer, or a neglected garden/back yard/basement that needed work, where we could just hang out for a night and play cards and eat Cheezies and sleep in.

Attachment-1 copy

I find car trips therapeutic – to an extent – and am particularly fond of hour-or-two long excursions during which I can either answer my email in the car as Mike drives (I get a crazy rush out of dozens of emails whooshing out of my outbox when we arrive at an internet connection), or unplug and gaze out the window at rolling fields. As much as I love the mountains, I feel comforted and anchored to the prairies, and I love driving north, east and south through Alberta farmland, past cows and classic cars and weathered churches dropped into farmers’ fields, poking through small towns, looking for pie.

On Friday it was overcast, like a damp grey wool rug had been draped over the world, and so after picking W up from school we drove to High River, not quite an hour away, where some people and homes and businesses are still in flood recovery mode, and you can still see boarded up buildings and piles of sandbags. We made a stop at the Hitchin’ Post, a teeny box of a drive-in set in the middle of an enormous parking lot, serving up burgers, fries, onion rings and real saskatoon berry shakes.

hitchin' post collage

It was windy and wet, but the food was hot – I imagine on sunny days, that parking lot is full, the people and the cars taking up far more real estate than the building itself.

I had heard last week about a spot about half an hour east of High River called Aspen Crossing, a sort of oasis for train lovers, with a campground, a fully functioning railway that offers 3 hour, 28 mile round trips with themes like wine and cheese, ales on the rails, grain elevator tours (you can’t get much more Alberta than that) and a dinner theatre complete with train robbery. But what made me pick up the phone and make a reservation was the two caboose cabins – Canadian Pacific railway cars transformed into cabins you can stay in for the night.

caboose cabin
Caboose cabin interior

How. Cool. Is this? Says W: “this is the best vacation ever.” Nevermind that it was raining, and there was no internet. (All the more perfect.) There are two, with a third planned for this summer; we booked the larger Canadian Pacific Caboose, which technically sleeps 5 but comfortably sleeps 3 – there’s a queen-sized bed, a (very firm) pull-out couch, and a bed up the ladder in the cupola – the raised part of the roof where the conductor would traditionally sit. (Warning: If you visit and have more than one child, make sure you stay as many nights as you have kids, or there will be fighting over the loft. It’s about as cool as it gets for a 9 year old. And also a 47 year old.)

canadian pacific 2
caboose cabins Collage

There was a deck with a gas barbecue, a fire pit, a little kitchen with a fridge and stovetop, a shower, a retro gas stove in the living room to warm the place and make it even cozier, and air conditioning up top for the heat of summer. The Union Pacific is smaller, and parked beside the teeny store/bathrooms/showers/laundry – ours was a little more private, and a stretch of grass between the two was perfect for soccer and Frisbee-throwing. There were plenty of kids on bikes, lots of dogs, a playground, and a special area where they let you set off fireworks – which are for sale in the gift shop. (To up the cool factor.)

dining car
Dining car

There’s a dining car of course, where you can go for breakfast, lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch – and they have their own flock out back to visit and thank for the eggs.

hens Collage

It’s a trek we’ll likely take again – especially knowing we can be there in less time than it takes many people to commute on a regular weekday – and next time we’ll stop at the other dining car – the Whistle Stop in High River, which I hear has great pie, and at Evelyn’s Memory Lane Cafe, which we tried to stop at but construction had torn the street up. Perhaps next time it will be a southern Alberta pie crawl, with a long, digestive nap in a caboose.

saskatoon milkshake

The Hitchin’ Post reminded me that I had a bag of saskatoons in the freezer, and also vanilla ice cream – while a milkshake seems like an obvious recipe, I always forget that I can make them at home – and how completely delicious they are. You could really use any berry in this recipe and come up with a pie-milkshake version; rhubarb would work exceptionally well, or blueberry, strawberry, raspberry or blackberry. If you really want to justify calling it a pie milkshake, rim the glasses with graham cracker crumbs before you pour in your shake. (For the record, the city was named after the berry, so the berry itself isn’t capitalized; the city is.)

Saskatoon Pie Milkshakes


May 31, 2015

  • Makes: Serves as many as you want to.


fresh or frozen saskatoons


vanilla ice cream



1Put a cup or so of saskatoons into a small saucepan and add a splash of water (they aren't very juicy at first) and a shake of sugar - about a third of a cup, or to taste. Simmer until the berries pop, then cool and refrigerate until cold.

2To make your milkshake, you kind of have to play it by ear - how much milk you'll need will depend on the density of your ice cream and the juiciness of your saskatoons. Put a few scoops of ice cream into the blender, then add a good pour of saskatoons and their juice, and a glug of milk, and pulse until it's as smooth as you can get it, adding extra milk or berry juice if it's too thick, or more berries if it's not purple enough.


I love showing off my home province – thanks to Travel Alberta for helping me do it! As always, words and opinions are my own.


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11 comments on “Saskatoon Pie Milkshakes + a Caboose Cabin

  1. Corine
    June 1, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Julie!! We were camping this weekend at Aspen Crossing. Our first time there too. We loved how close it was to Calgary, which allowed us to maximize our camping time?

  2. Rochelle Watt
    June 1, 2015 at 10:12 am

    So glad to hear Julie, that both you and Corine loved the fact that we are so close to Calgary! Having recently located from the Fraser Valley in BC, travelling anywhere for a getaway was always at least 2+ hours away. Southern Alberta has much to offer in a variety of ways. Rural tourism rules!

  3. Yvonne Anderson
    June 1, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Julie, I have to agree with everything you mentioned but wanted to mention a couple more of my personal faves..
    Heartland Cafe in Okotoks, in the old Church..
    Their food is delish & The Saskatoon Farm is awesome too;)
    Love our prairies!!

  4. Jules @ WolfItDown
    June 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Love the photos! Makes me feel like I have been there somehow πŸ˜€ And that saskatoon milkshake, yum! πŸ˜€ What do saskatoons taste like? πŸ™‚ x

  5. Julie
    June 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Yes, I’ve heard of Heartland too Yvonne! We were actually going to stop there, but Mike had to get back to town and was getting tired of me poking around taking pictures.. πŸ™‚

  6. Julie
    June 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Saskatoons are similar to blueberries – only a little hardier… more fibre! πŸ™‚

  7. jake
    June 2, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Saskatoon berries – if you find a good (secret) wild patch in a spot with enough moisture they can be big and plump and juicy – more/larger seeds tho’

    Taste: Blueberry + Pear + Almond + Coyote (or something wild and earthy). Delicious.

    I want to move into that caboose.


  8. Lana
    June 4, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    This sounds WONDERFUL. If I ever get my butt (and those of my family) out there for the cross-Canada road tour, I’d LOVE to stay in a caboose. SO COOL.

  9. Steph McVox
    June 5, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I also love prairie road trips – something about those wide, open spaces! Thanks for sharing, I have been meaning to pop by Aspen Crossing so will make that a must-do!

  10. Carol Anne
    June 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Great to open up your website (hadn’t been for a couple of weeks) & find you had been to our famous “Hitchin Post”
    Next time you have to try their burgers best ever!! I am fussy about my burger’s & the only place I will have a burger, other than my own kitchen, is the Hitchin Post as I know they are fresh made – not a cardboard patty!!
    Just to clear up any misconceptions about High River, we are rebuilding; however some great hidden treasures worth visiting. They include, Beautiful Blooms flowers – go in for the “smell” of it you will not regret, Pixie Hollow – books, great clothes & just that right accent for the home. Speaking of accents – Creative Accents – again beautiful additions for a ladies wardrobe, Evan’s Essence – pottery and art from local very talented people. Still more of local artisan display’s at Ansleigh Furniture & a connecting gem for coffee & light lunch is A River Ran Through It. Yes, come & visit High River – we are recovering, however we have a great deal to offer!

  11. Valerie
    July 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Just an update to what Carol Anne said . Evanessence Gallery just sold and I am not sure what is going in there. The shop will try and relocate again. We do have some nice places to visit.

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