Adieu, Saskatchewan -- Gorgeous Photos Used with Permission
My great-grandfather was one of the first white settlers in Saskatchewan. Another hub of mine delves into that. It is titled Great-Grandfather Kinneard, One of the Earliest Pioneers of Saskatchewan.
I am writing this article to put my thoughts and feelings together with impressions of Saskatchewan which I will remember the rest of my life. We were in Saskatchewan for six months of 2012, including winter, and five months of 2013 (back to Arizona in between) and then Alberta for the remainder of 2013. We are returning to the United States.
One day I will write a hub regarding Calgary, Alberta.
This hub is about Southern Saskatchewan. I have some great photographs to share with you. Some of the photographs are mine, some are public domain such as Wikipedia and some (the best ones) were taken by Alan and Elaine Wilson of Vernon, BC -- used with permission. Try to find the text portions I slip between the photos.
Here we go.
I echo what Temple Grandin said, "People LIVE here?"
One of the first impressions of Saskatchewan during spring, summer or fall is the vastness of the land. I'm not sure why Saskatchewanites don't brag about the enormity of the land like Texans do. Having worked as an adjuster with Texans, I know their love for Texas.
It's really so cold in the winters of Saskatchewan that humankind can hardly survive. Who would want to brag about that? Most outsiders, like myself, cannot understand why people want to live here. Visit, maybe, but not reside full-time and for all of one's life. I am hoping by the time I finish writing this hub, my feelings about Saskatchewan will have softened.
Temple Grandin is a lady with autism who became a Yale professor and is one of the leading experts on autism. There was a movie made about her. It's called Temple Grandin. Temple stepped off the plane in Phoenix in her younger years and said, "People LIVE HERE?" Well, we're heading back to Phoenix. I'm turning her quip around and applying it to Saskatchewan. I'll take heat over cold any day.
My parents moved from a lovely spread of land in British Columbia where they had been for decades to a little town in Saskatchewan. They thought they should downsize and have a simpler life. Each of them had been born in Saskatchewan and had grown up in Calgary, Alberta (Home of the Calgary Stampede.) Then they moved to BC to get married and to settle down. Fifty years later, they had a romanticized idea of moving to Saskatchewan. They are used to the cold, they say. They love it when it snows. "Isn't it beautiful?" they say.
No. It's white. I like color. It's cold. I like warmth. But my parents decided to move to Saskatchewan to a small town of less than 200 residents -- 60 miles away from the nearest place to buy groceries for humans, plus bird seed, cat food and dog food.
If a person is out and about on a 40 degrees-below-zero-Celcius day, returns to their vehicle and can get it warmed up fast enough, drive home and then sprint from the SUV or car to the house and do this all again in reverse when they decide to leave the house again on another day, then yes, a person can survive -- in 40-degrees-below-zero weather. Celsius. Just barely, but it can be done. I guess I've proven that to myself.
The fingers crack open and bleed no matter how much hand lotion is applied. The nose bleeds from the dry air. But the human beings can survive as long as their vehicles don't break down while they are traveling some less-traveled road to get to a destination. If a person has a tire come off or for some reason ends up in the ditch, the passersby know that they need to stop and assist that person or the person in the vehicle will die mighty quickly if the engine won't start. With the wind chill which whips temperatures upward some weeks each winter, the thermostat belies the danger as it can become 50 degrees below zero, Celsius.
It warms up to the mid-20's below zero, invariably, but during each really cold spell, animals die. Cattle are bred in Saskatchewan to withstand very cold temperatures, but many die nonetheless. Horses, too. It's very sad to see animals standing out in the cold winds of winter wishing they could just disappear, just somehow be out of the cold.
Roads get icy. Sometimes there is fog -- I don't know how or why. But there can be fog and ice and blizzardly snow. Vehicle accidents abound.
I hope and pray my mom and dad will be able to withstand another winter in their cozy dwelling where they have chosen to live. We will not be here. I think from now on it will be summertime when we come to visit.
300 Years of First Nations Treaty History in Canada
If I try to separate how sorry I feel for the animals in wintertime in Saskatchewan and ask myself what did I really like about Saskatchewan, I know there is a whole world of things I would like to explore in books, especially history and art, regarding Saskatchewan. There are 300 years of Canadian and Aboriginal history of which I only took two semesters in university. What I did learn was, by turn, heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. I don't think I can buckle down to learning more about that right now. It's another item for my things to do when life slows down. Or maybe I should do it sooner rather than later by taking the Calliou Training (online) which helps students learn this subject quicker and better. In fact, many Canadian companies require their employees to take such training so they are more aware of Aboriginal Peoples' cultures.
Saskatchewan and Alberta -- all the provinces -- didn't used to have boundaries and names. The land belonged to the Aboriginal people and they knew how to live off the land. They did not kill animals recklessly, but only when food was needed.
Being in Saskatchewan, in the country where there are rolling hills and time for long walks on spring and autumn days, it has been a season in my life for appreciating animals even more than I did, a time for pondering the peoples' lives of long ago in the area and a time for wondering more about people who live near my parents in this day and age.
What makes some people tick?
Equipment has improved since this machine was made..
Writers observe. Writers wonder.
I noticed when I was living two blocks from my parents in their little country town many of the residents in the town are very wealthy. They live on their ranches in the spring, summer and fall, but because there is a mile-long icy driveway to their ranch homes, they live in town during the wintertime. By living in town during the deadly winters, when the Highways Department has sanded and salted the highway, the ranchers and their families can come and go as they please rather than be house-bound out on the ranches.
In this way, the ranchers -- most of them who have descended from sons of ranchers -- help to keep the little town vibrant and humming with more activity.
What are some memories of Saskatchewan I will enjoy always?
I am so glad I had half of 2012 and almost half of 2013 to spend with my parents. We had a lot of fun; good laughs, good times, good talks. Nothing I did in Saskatchewan can compare to those memories, but I am now trying to think of other times I enjoyed to some extent in Saskatchewan.
For fifteen years, we have been in the States, so the landscape and architecture and climate in Canada have taken some getting used to.
Winter was setting in both years we stayed in Mom and Dad's town, so I have to separate out the wintery-cold aspect to try to think this through.
I enjoyed feeding the feral cat, Max, that came around morning and evening and for which my mother supplied a fur-lined jacket to warm a little wooden box structure for him outside. The word enjoy might be too strong a word. I didn't enjoy feeding him when I knew cold weather was setting in again soon. I knew he would suffer unless I could get him to come into our house. But I felt a little better knowing I could do something for him.
I should write a hub about Max and what became of him. I'm leaving the prairies of Canada in two more days and I can feel I am beginning to want to write again.
What else have I enjoyed about Saskatchewan? There was a day in October 2012 when we absolutely had to go to town -- it seemed there was no way we could delay it a day or two -- and the highway was very icy. We pulled out of the little township where we lived and onto the freeway. Immediately we knew we should not have ventured out. My husband almost lost control of the vehicle. We saw big semi-trailer trucks in the ditch ahead of us. We crawled along the icy surface for about a mile. Vehicles passed us. We crawled even slower when a truck pulled out in front of us from a side road. There was a blizzard by this time -- just 20 minutes after leaving our house -- and we didn't realize until the truck got in front of us that it was a sand and gravel truck. It traveled 30 kilometers an hour all the way into town, 60 miles away. We followed gratefully over the newly-sanded icy highway, safely into town, passing many trucks and cars and drivers in the ditch waiting for tow trucks to arrive.
I enjoyed watching a fox look for breakfast in a dozen gopher holes in the school yard some mornings where I walked in springtime. He knew I was no danger to him half a football field away. I would not have enjoyed seeing him catch a gopher and carry it away to eat half-alive.
There is no getting away from it. Saskatchewan is a harsh place.
I enjoyed seeing a Magpie for my first time.
I enjoyed opening my drapes every morning and finding 20 little birds waiting outside depending on me for their breakfast in the snow.
Oh, and I really did enjoy watching the hundreds and thousands of geese, ducks, sandpipers and other kinds of birds fly in and out of the area to one of the salty lakes. The lake which is five minutes from my parents' home is a major fly-way for certain birds in North and South America. I wrote about it in my hub, Chaplin Lake, Saskatchewan -- A Safe Haven for Migratory Birds. Thank you to those of you who voted for it and made it an Editor's Choice.
General Store just like in the Road to Avonlea show.
Little School on the Prairies. 1919 era.
Qu-Appelle Valley, lush and productive, received its name from the Cree Indians.
I don't actually go to taverns.
I don't actually go to taverns and yet I found myself humming a tavern song, 'Fare thee well, for I must leave thee....Adieu, Adieu, I say Adieu....' or words something like that. I hummed it happily, practically skipping as I packed. I looked the words up on Google and then searched for the song on You Tube. This is the song -- below in the link -- that I have been singing as we three (Husband, Kitty and I) prepare to leave the cold prairies for a warmer clime.
I thought to myself if I'm so happy that I'm singing songs I heard in my childhood, it must be time to sit down and do some writing. It's been awhile. So I did -- and it feels great!
Saskatchewan is a harsh place.
Ravens are Plentiful in Southern Saskatchewan
The Best Time to Visit Saskatchewan is in the Summer
This is just a Little Portion of Southern Saskatchewan.
Sources of Information
1. Calliou Training, The Calgary Herald, October 28, 2013.
© 2013 Pamela Kinnaird W