Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park NWT

Our first stop “north of 60”. Spectacular and very raw. Everything in the NWT is on a different scale. This shot is of Alexandra Falls, but Louise Falls is also close by.

When we arrived I warned everyone “we are in serious bear country now”. Sure enough 5 minutes later Lisa saw a bear on the way to the falls.

The mighty MacKenzie river freezes in the winter. The spot then becomes a popular ice climbing destination.

I like this video of the falls. The comment by one YouTube viewer about “Coca-Cola” waters is spot on.

Saskatchewan Open Road

Despite Saskatchewan’s reputation for its prairie geography, there is a surprising variety of landscapes, including the hills and lakes in the north, a lake with water that is denser than the Dead Sea, and the North and South Saskatchewan rivers.

Saskatchewan also features historical sites related to the North-West Rebellion. In 1885, Louis Riel, leader of the Metis (persons of mixed French Canadian, other European and Aboriginal descent), led an uprising against the Canadian government that culminated in the Battle of Batoche. The interpretive centre at Batoche remains a popular tourist destination. While the battles were not particularly large by world standards, the Rebellion was politically significant for the Canadian west, and offers a glimpse into what life was like on the Canadian frontier.

The fresh air and open sky are other distinctive features of the prairie. There is little light pollution, and therefore stargazing is wonderful.

Saskatchewan’s population used to be primarily rural, but is becoming more urban. The population had been declining for many years, although this is changing in recent years, as oilsands, potash and uranium development are driving an economic boom that is mirroring Alberta’s boom. Farming remains the largest sector of the economy (actually is no longer the largest sector as the oil,gas and mining sectors expand), though it is becoming economically nonviable. There are some attempts to grow other sectors of the economy, such as scientific research and technology. For example, a synchrotron has been built at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan, unlike the rest of Canada, does not participate in Daylight Savings Time. This means that in the winter, it is in the same time zone as Manitoba, and in the summer it is in the same time zone as Alberta.

(text content courtesy of Wikitravel and used under the Creative Commons license)

Harris grain elevator

This is the town where my grandfather was born. I was happy to see the grain elevator was still standing. The once iconic structures are disappearing from the prairie landscape. It was nice to see this one has survived (so far).

A large number of the old “wood cribbed” elevators were operated by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool:

“The pool is the world’s largest farm, the world’s largest shipper of wheat, the Biggest Business in Canada – and it was built by the Man Behind the Plow.”

W.A. Irwin, 1929

Rouleau Saskatchewan

This is the field across the street from the “Ruby” and “Corner Gas” locations that were the main part of the set of the popular Canadian sitcom Corner Gas. You can even see it in the show on occasion.

The first episode to air on CTV featured a discussion on the field between the main character Brent Leroy (Brent Butt), an extra known only as the “Man”, and Hank Yarbow (Fred Ewanuick). I’ve always thought that this one scene defined the entire show:

Brent: Want me to fill it up?

Man: Sure. You know I’ve never driven across Saskatchewan before.

Brent: Well, you still haven’t really. About halfway to go yet.

Man: Sure is flat.

Brent: How do you mean?

Man: You know, flat. Nothing to see.

Brent: What do you mean, like topographically? Hey Hank, this guy says Saskatchewan is flat.

Hank: How do you mean?

Brent: Topographically, I guess. He says there’s nothin’ to see.

Hank: There’s lots to see. There’s nothin’ to block your view.

Brent: There’s lots to see. Nothin’ to block your view. Like the mountains back there. They’re uh… Well, what the hell? I could’ve sworn there was a big mountain range back there. Juttin’ up into the sky all purple and majestic. I must be thinkin’ of a postcard I saw or somethin’. Hey, it is kinda flat, thanks for pointin’ that out.

Man: You guys always this sarcastic?

Brent: Nothin’ else to do.

(dialogue courtesy of Wikiquote and used under the Creative Commons license)

Lake Superior Neys Park

The scenes at Neys Provincial Park were an inspiration for the Canadian Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris. In looking at the trees, water, and scenery it’s easy to see how.

The park was also the home (1941-1946)  to a camp housing German WWII prisoners of war (and some Japanese-Canadians). According to park interpretative signage escape attempts were few and far between. Perhaps this was due to the inhospitable nature of the Lake Superior environment,  but maybe it was the very hospitable guards and staff. Apparently some prisoners chose to stay in Canada and settle in the area after their release.