Province 8: “Land of the Living Skies” Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan, though beautiful in its own way, is another one of those provinces you just kind of drive through.  I wish we could have stayed longer (I know, I sound like a broken record) but we really only had a brief two days there.  From Winnipeg we drove all the way to Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan.  We had a very nice meal at Bushwakker Brewing and enjoyed some live music whilst there.  I had a delicious blackberry cider which tasted like a liquid jolly-rancher.  I looked at the ingredients and nary a blackberry was used to make it, so, suffice to say it wasn’t exactly natural.  However, it was marvelous.

We tried to sleep in a public park as it had washrooms nearby and would have been a nice place to wake up.  We didn’t see any signs posted saying you couldn’t park overnight, so, we got Big Bertha set up, brushed our teeth in the washrooms, and settled in at about 10pm.  At around 12:30am we were awakened by the dreaded noise you never want to hear when camping in a public space: a knocking on the side of our van.  It was the police.  Our van is equipped with all these electronic buttons to open and close doors, making it difficult to actually manually open a door (a feature I dislike).  In the panic and half-asleep stupor of trying to pull on some clothes and try to open the door, Callum took so long to finally open the door, that the cop had his hand on his gun while greeting us hello.  He took pity on us though and didn’t give us a fine, but told us that that didn’t mean that another cop wouldn’t.  We got the message.  We drove to Wal-Mart and camped there, as it is allowed.  It was not a very good night with all the bright lights and busy Regina traffic even in the middle of the night.

The next day we consoled ourselves with a fabulous breakfast at the most hipster-est of hipster cafes called “Hunter and Gatherer Vegetarian Diner”.  I loved the décor there—especially the scrabble board back splash and the Bob Ross-esque paintings covering one entire wall.  The food was delicious as well: Callum had a “breakfast salad” complete with eggs and hash-browns, and I had the berry pancakes, of course.  I highly recommend going there for breakfast or lunch if you ever find yourself in Regina.

After breakfast and a walk through Wascana Centre Park to see the Legislature, gardens, and millions of Canada geese, we drove up to Saskatoon and took in a movie that Callum had been wanting to see: “Dunkirk”.  It was good; you should see it!

It was then time to drive up to the rural area of Waldheim where my second cousins have chosen to migrate to from BC.  This is astonishing because anyone from British Columbia would wonder why a move to Saskatchewan—rural Saskatchewan, in fact—would be at all preferable.  Why, there are no mountains there!  It’s just flat!  It’s only prairies!  The answer is fairly simple: you need to be a millionaire to own land in BC (the part where we are all from), and you can own a lot for a lot less in the middle of the country.  The prices quoted to us by our previous hosts in Winnipeg seemed very low to us too.

Anyway, two sisters from the same family, Melissa and Angie, live there now with their husbands and kids and it was Angie and Steve whom we got to visit with, along with their brood of (5) children and the neighbourhood kids too!  Their place seemed, to us, soooo rural, but maybe because they don’t have an actual address.  While driving to their place, Angie sent me a “pin” on google maps.  The pin I got on my phone took me to a completely different house not even remotely similarly located to Angie and Steve’s place.  It was hilarious.  We had a cheerful conversation with a woman wearing a kerchief on her head who couldn’t quite place my relatives’ names, but had heard of them but couldn’t tell us where they lived.   I had to call Angie and she was incredulous that the pin didn’t work.  She asked what landmarks were around to figure out where we were.  I was a bit at a loss for words.  My thoughts were “um, we’re by the field of grain next to the field of canola, at the crosswords of another field of grass?”  I found a sign selling some sort of firewood, and lo and behold, she could place us.  She came to meet us, describing certain other “landmarks” to look out for before we met up with her giant white monster of a vehicle.  My favourite landmark was the tiny spire of a tiny white church “it’s not the Taj Mahal or anything,” said Angie.  Ah, indeed, there it was, poking up out of a tiny grove of trees on the right.  We were getting closer.  Minutes later we spotted her white truck and followed her to the farm.

The farm was lovely—large, sprawling, teeming with life: friendly happy animals and children.  We had to watch out not to get sprayed by the boys’ water guns, and not to get eaten by the mosquitoes, but we had a homey dinner around a campfire complete with s’mores for dessert: a North American delicacy which I had not partaken of in many years and which I enjoyed immensely.

Being on a farm was a huge difference for us as we have stayed only with couples without kids (and generally in cities) thus far.  I loved meeting all of the Boldts and also all of the animals they had, especially that special fuzzy orange cat who loved cuddles—sorry, can’t remember his name.  It was hard enough remembering all the kids’ names!  I know I’m making it sound like there were a 100 of them.  It wasn’t that extreme. They are very nice children—shout out to Angie and Steve and their awesome parenting skills.

I always remember Melissa and Angie as the funny cousins who were jolly and laughing or telling stories at family gatherings.  They are not that much older than me but when you’re a kid, 3-5 years is a huge difference and enough for you to look up to your cool cousins.  I’m sad we didn’t get pictures of Molly or Steve, but we certainly got our fill of the other inhabitants of the farm. I also enjoyed the boot collection.  “I have a boot problem,” said Angie.  I wonder how many pairs are hers.

After our family reunion we had to leave Saskatchewan for our next province.  Anyone interested in going to see some skies without the encumbrance of mountains and trees, Saskatchewan is the place.  The openness of it is gorgeous.  When I asked Angie’s oldest, Molly (aged 10) and her two friends what the top three most best things of living in Saskatchewan were they said the following:  “horses!” “animals!” “low crime!” “the amazing sunsets!” So there you have it, folks.  They couldn’t stop at just three things.  I loved their answers…don’t you?

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