Thursday, July 13, 2017

Canwood Famous for Bannock

Frank Enjoys Bannock at Canwood Cafe
The Village of Canwood, Saskatchewan, located in the north section of the province, sixty-five kilometres south-east of Big River is famous for its bannock. This luxurious bread has simple ingredients and is produced in a variety of ways, including deep fried. The clever woman who makes it works at the Canwood Café. She and the owner also offer friendly banter. They would love to meet you.

Canwood Commemorative Sign 
The community centennial commemorative iron monument at the highway entrance into the Village displays a fine assortment of characteristics common to the province and this small gentle getaway among your northern Saskatchewan adventures. 

From every street corner, you have a grand view of the working grain elevators that stood beside the long-gone railway tracks. Now, these magnificent sentinels seemingly stand on guard for the towns’ people. On Main Street, Young’s Garage is a display of past prairie architecture. 

Canwood Grain Elevator
Young's Garage
There are a few buildings for sale, some in need of either repair or full demolition. Their history includes the existence of a coin laundry, a billiards game room, a confectionary and snack bar, a Bargain Shoppe and a Pawn Shop. 

The lively elements of the village are attributed to the horticulture volunteers as demonstrated by the manicured park in the centre of town, the Village Administrator and workers who keep the place tidy and prideful with large displays of red and white flowers to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.  

Susan stands in the village garden
The knowledgeable Municipal District Administrator is proud to show the map of the vast area under their jurisdiction. It’s populous at large are the bright lights of this most worthwhile community. Every person we spoke with had an upbeat, friendly attitude towards their town and one another.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vilna Under Construction

Vilna's Claim To Fame
The Village of Vilna’s claim to fame is its cluster of three gigantic metallic mushrooms standing in a park one block away from the downtown core. This gentle historic town is located 39 kilometres northeast of Smoky Lake, AB, on Highway 28.

Hope of a Boys and Girls Club
Some of its meaningful businesses under construction or being repaired include the hopeful startup of a boys and girls social club where the youth of this town and the surrounding district can find relief from the technology-driven, anti-social aspect of their lives, according to the woman we met on the street. 

Vilna Seniors' Centre
Across from that large undertaking is the Vilna Seniors’ Centre. The scaffold structure on its front face was a giveaway. The new delightful blue siding gives the building a regal image. We left the area before they had the chance to add an apostrophe for plural possession.

Home is Where Your Heart Is
Some folks have the great idea of developing an at-home business while a clever lady in this town turned a business into her home. As you stroll down the centre street in Vilna, pay special attention to a red door. Home is where you make it. 

Garage of Days Gone By
As you step off onto one of the side roads you’ll be pleasantly surprised that what is old, very old, still stands. A used-to-be vehicle repair building presents itself as a staple of days gone by. Our lady on the street told us that there used to be four garages in Vilna and now there are none.

Greek Orthodox Church in Vilna
One of our biggest surprises was that the Greek Orthodox Church was closed and not under construction and the Anglican Church was for sale. The sands of time and encroaching trees and invasive plants have taken over in some areas, while in others the sounds of simultaneous hammers and saws ring out as hopeful indicators of keeping this small town alive. 

Our last visit was with the Administrator at the Vilna Village Office. She shared the good news that the village is keeping its library and organisers are looking for a librarian.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fireside at Metis Crossing

Frank with Red River Cart

Bison Sculpture Beside Playground
Initiated by our open-minded guide, Leon, at the Metis Crossing site, located near Smoky Lake, Alberta, we held a lengthy Fireside standing in the parking lot of the historical living museum.

Leon commented on our lifestyle and said that he and his wife would love to travel and meet people and talk openly about the good and positive things going on in the world.

We complimented him on his open heart and sensitivity and asked if he was Baha’i.

“I've heard of the Baha'i Faith. Tell me about it,” he said.

For the next while, he listened patiently to our explanation of the Blessed Bab’s purpose and Baha’u’llah’s Station. Our new friend was very receptive and shared with us his search for a spiritual leader and his openness to exploring various religions to find the right one. 

Currently, he’s reading about Buddha.

After a gentle exchange of ideas and philosophies, Frank presented him with a small booklet titled, “Baha’i Teachings for a New Millennium”. Leon held it steadily in his hand and said we would read it. We believe he will.

We shared our experience with the friends in St. Paul and left a slight suggestion with them to connect with Leon on their next visit to Metis Crossing.

Blessed Is The Spot

Susan peeking into Metis house

Unique Metis barn design

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Big White at Waskatenau, Alberta
Waskatenau, pronounced /wəˈsɛtnə/ wə-SET-nə by the Cree indigenous peoples, is located 82 kilometres northeast along Highway 28, from our last house sitting gig in Namao, Alberta.

Big White doesn’t mind the stops and starts one bit. She merrily carries Frank and me along with hauling our Ural motorbike stored on a trailer behind her. She’s very capable and in excellent condition.

Pine Creek Campground Sign
We spotted the Pine Creek Campground sign placed along the roadside of the quiet baseball-themed prairie town. Waskatenau has hosted many baseball championships and is considered the Baseball Capital of Alberta. It’s a small village with approximately 260 residents, all of whom seemed to have been indoors the evening we took a walk around town, with the exception of one fellow standing outside the hotel having a cigarette.

The following day, the kind librarian introduced me to the proper pronunciation of the village and the fact that its main Ukranian-based population more or less dictates the activities including the existence of a Catholic school, a large Ukranian church, and the general friendliness of the villagers.

Bird House and Bat House
We explored the back alleys where we tend to find out about the lifestyles of the locals. One dedicated family set up a bird house and a bat house, both used to help control an obnoxious number of mosquitos and flies. They also left a large tree used by Woodpeckers standing in their yard. To my great pleasure, there was a small patch of wild daisies, my mother’s favourite flower.

Cecile's Favourite Flowers

That evening, we set up our outdoor cooking stove and prepared a sumptuous late dinner. We indulged in turkey sausages wrapped in a heated pita bread, corn on the cob, cooked brown beans and a bowl of raw vegetables. The evening concluded with a storm filled with white lightning, gusting winds, huge thunder claps and a downpour of rain. Once again, Big White provided us with a safe and warm place to be.

Frank Ready To Enjoy Dinner

 Next stop, somewhere along Highway 28 going east.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Try Baha'i

Big White's Decal
Big White, our recreational vehicle, is now emblazoned with a decal on her hood that reads Try Baha’i.

Frank and I were inspired to etch the message on our bus after having visited with Mariam of Blairmore, Alberta, an isolated Baha'i. Last year, she relayed a story about her excursion with her husband to the Yukon to share their love of Baha’u’llah. They taped the words Try Baha’i to their van and drove miles and miles along the highway stopping at several towns and cities. They were always questioned about the message. Frank and I are hoping for the same reaction and curiosity.

We chose the paint colours here in Rimbey, Alberta, and Frank prepared the truck to take the letters. We’re happy with the results and hope that our enthusiasm to teach the Cause comes across to the Baha’i friends as a positive display and also hope that human curiosity is ignited.

A few of the pets we're sitting
These days we're homefront pioneers in the Central Alberta cluster and we’re learning about the spirit of the Baha’i friends, the receptivity of the folks in this district and those who are waiting to be touched by the Master’s words. We are all pioneers.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Home On The Range

Welcome to Home Hardware
We are thrilled to know that Big White is welcome at the Home Hardware department store in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Finding a place to quietly settle in for the night as we free-range across Canada, can be unsettling to those of us who live full time in a mobile home. Our ‘rv’ is our abode. Frank converted this 17-passenger HandiDART bus two years ago, and it’s been our primary domain ever since.

We depart the parking lot and cruise west along Highway 3 to our next stop-over.

Today, we are exploring the town of Creston, British Columbia

We pull into the library parking lot and step outside. It’s October 12, and the weather is much warmer here than inside our bus. We don't have central heating, just a small heater and when it's turned on it cloaks us with a blanket of warmth, but the moment you turn it off, the cold clings to you like a thief. 

Millennium Park
Inside the brightly lit building, we ask if there are any large stores that would accommodate our truck and trailer. The librarian explains that there is a graveled parking lot beside the Millennium Park where large transports park regularly. Later that day, we join them.

We get a good sense of this gentle town by strolling its streets, visiting the senior centre, having a meal at a restaurant and speaking to some of the people at the grocery store and on the avenues. At one of the Chinese food eateries, we have a conversation with the owner.

“How long have you lived in Creston?” I say.

“Oh, all my life. But I don’t like,” the man says.

“Why don’t you like it?” Frank says.

“It’s too old. The people are old and no one wants to eat at my restaurant anymore.”

He sets down a large bowl of soup in front of us, two empty bowls, a plate of dumplings and walks away.

Updating an original building
We also have a sense of it being old, by Canadian standards, and pay special attention to the restoration of some of its buildings. The biggest regret we have is that the hub of the town is plowed through by large trucks, leaving behind their ghastly smell of burning diesel, and fast moving cars travelling to and from work in outlying centres sometimes beeping their way through the intersections. With regret, potential visitors find it nearly impossible to pull over on Highway 3. 

The next day, as we wander around the town, we meet two older men sitting at Millennium Park. We approach them and engage in conversation.
Another view of Millennium Park

“Most of the people living in Creston are seniors, these days. That suits us just fine,” the man with the cane says. “We’ve got young families too and like every other town in the world, we’ve got restless trouble-makers.”

“It’s like a retirement community. People move here from as far away as Calgary,” the man in the baseball cap says.

We talk with the gentle souls for another half hour and then set off to explore more of the town.

Along our travels, we consider places to settle down once we are not able to live this ramblers’ lifestyle, and Creston has been added to our list.

View of mountains from street in Creston, BC

Blessed is the spot

Friday, October 7, 2016

Elkford? Should be 'Deerford'

View of mountain Elkford, BC
The two primary commerce in Elkford, British Columbia are coal mining and logging. The bold leaders of the Fording Coal organization in the 1980s decided to abandon underground mining and proceeded with one of the greatest mining endeavours ever undertaken in the world – mining Eagle Mountain from top to bottom. Jobs opened up for the adventurous and housing them sent the wildlife further up the hills.

Mule Deer resting in neighbours yard
The District's population these days is approximately twenty-five hundred humans surrounded by an overabundance of Mule Deer.

The large-eared breed travels in pairs or as a herd stroll through the town and sits casually on lawns and in parks. They saunter from one neighbourhood to another, stopping to munch on grass, flowers and leaves on trees leaving 'from behind' physical evidence in their wake. The locals prefer not to have them around. In the recent past, the common practice was to cull them by assigning the task to the Elkford District sanctioned by the British Columbia government. 

Elk antlers
This technique was halted and the deer are now captured and transported to other areas of the province. ‘Win – win’ as far as the locals and government are concerned. Considering that there are six Mule Deer sitting on the lawn of a nearby property might be an indication that it is time for another harvest.

Property for sale - includes deer
'Deerford' as Frank and I refer to it, is a district municipality in the southeast region of British Columbia in the Rocky Mountain range. It is 32 kilometres north of the junction at Sparwood, on Highway 43.

We were escorted on a backroad adventure by Frank's cousin. We viewed Josephine Falls, then took in the
Josephine Falls
town from the top of a high lookout, and witnessed the minimal growth of the industries and its workers from the comfort of a four-wheel drive truck. Most folks have at least one truck and an all-terrain vehicle. At the peak of the valley, our driver commented that the car in front of us must be driven by tourists because it was a Smart car.

"There's nothing smart about a little car like that here in a place like this," he said.

Our three-day October stay in this pristine location ended with a snowfall. Our next destination is Cranbrook, BC. We'll be staying in Big White at Walmart for a few days. Winter camping is not for the faint of heart.