səˈska ch əˌwän

It still feels a little strange telling people that we spent a week vacation in Saskatchewan. We don't have any family there and we live 60 minutes from Banff.

The province does take its share of derision, second probably only to Newfoundland. The facts that it is so flat and boring and sparsely populated do not help it. Certainly the most charming thing that I knew about the province before visiting it last week was its curious collection of place names: Mozart, Cut Knife, Moose Jaw, Elbow, Eyebrow, Wartime, Shooter Hill, Forget, Antler, Climax, and Biggar ("New York is Big, but this is Biggar").

We visited the Royal Saskatchewan Museum on our last day in the province with the kids. Free admission and an encouragement to take as many pictures as we wanted were what the lady at the info counter told us.

I was exceedingly impressed with the place. Wonderful dioramas of the seven climatic areas in SK fantastically illustrated the provinces wildlife and vegetation.

Saskatchewan's history is rich with the meeting of western government with the native population. Many of treaties signed by Canada and First Nations were drawn up in Saskatchewan. Sadly, First Nations people remain second class citizens off the books, but the museum did a fine job capturing their spirit and way of life and presenting it in an admiring way.

Blaise was particularly impressed with the dinosaur exhibits. He's pictured where with a triceratops skull.

I have always admired the provinces social action tradition going back to Tommy Douglas (founder of universal healthcare in Canada) through the various left-leaning parties being elected to government (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the New Democratic Party have ruled 43 of the last 76 years). A consequence of this is Saskatchewan's high royalty rates on their vast petroleum reserves which restrained corporations from plundering it all as they did in Alberta.

I've visited quite a large swath of the province over the years, stopping to get my picture at the giant snowman in Kenaston in 1988, being a speaker in Quill Lake in the mid-90s, visiting friends in Saskatoon, attending a youth conference in Caronport, cycling through and spending nights in Gull Lake, Chaplin, Regina and Whitewood, and touring with the CUC Silverwinds and playing in North Battleford.

So, to you Saskatchewan, I lift high my glass.

1 comment:

kevininspace said...

Saskatchewan has a very special place in my heart. When I was younger and we were driving across Canada we stopped in a small town called Wolseley.
We stopped at an information hut to find some activity to do since we had been driving for a few days. The person in the booth got on the phone, called someone quickly and gave us directions to a grain elevator. We drove over, knocked at the grain elevator door and were welcomed by the operator. For about an hour he showed us around: the elevators, the loading dock, the lab, the controls. To this day I fondly recall the visit in the grain elevator and have an appreciation for where food comes from.
I also had the great fortune to stay in Saskatoon for a while in 2002. I was there for work and got to walk around and explore the city each day. I still maintain that the best Phở, or Vietnamese beef noodle soup, I’ve had was in Saskatoon. The city is also beautiful with sandstone buildings and wonderful sunsets each night. I’ve often said that if I was forced to leave Montreal and had to choose someone else in Canada to live, Saskatchewan would be very high on my list.