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.