Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why I'm fascinated by Saskatoon

First, as always, a caveat. I don't really know what I'm talking about. As long as everyone understands that, we're ok.

I became fascinated with Saskatoon when I was 11 years old, because I had read a couple of books by Farley Mowat. Farley Mowat is a Canadian author who writes mostly non-fiction - in fact for all I know he writes only non-fiction. Even these two books I read, which were nominally fiction, had a basis in reality. Anyway they were very funny stories about a dog and the setting was Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I fell in love with what I thought I knew about the place.

Farley Mowat's Saskatoon was a pleasant place. Everybody was neighborly, and he had this really great dog. Everybody seemed to like each other and was happy. I envisioned it as this small town, somewhat bigger than Hindman, Kentucky (pop < 1,000), not quite as big as Hazard, Kentucky (pop around 7,000), and far more pleasant than either. I imagined nice houses, nice tree lined streets, an easy going, secure way of life.

When my father was in the Air Force we were stationed at Glasgow AFB, Montana for awhile. There can be few places in the USA that are more in the middle of nowhere than Glasgow AFB was. But, it was close to Canada, and one weekend we took a trip up there. I thought, this is my big chance to finally see Saskatoon, but it wasn't to be. Saskatchewan is a big place, and even though Saskatoon is in the south central part of the province, it's about 7,000 miles north of the Montana border. I exaggerate. But not much. But seriously, driving from Glasgow to Saskatoon would have been about like driving from Glasgow to Denver, Colorado. Maybe. So we ended up visiting Regina, and Moosejaw, which were nice places, but I was disappointed at not making it to Saskatoon. I still havent, and I expect I never will.

Of course the Saskatoon of my fantasy and the Saskatoon of reality are two different beasts. In reality, Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan, I think there are over 200,000 people living there. To my way of thinking, it's a pretty big place, a lot bigger than the village I thought it was. I would have been quite disillusioned to have driven into a city that size.

Of course, that wasn't Farley Mowat's fault. I never once remember him mentioning the size of the place in those two books. It was just me - I read them, enjoyed them immensely and filled in a lot of details of that world in my own mind, which had been forged by my own experiences.

Saskatoon. I doubt I'll ever get over it.


Anonymous said...

Farley McGill Mowat OC, BA, D.Litt (born May 12, 1921 in Belleville, Ontario) is a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.

Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books. A film about his experiences with wolves, titled Never Cry Wolf, was released in 1983.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was named in honour of him, and he frequently visits it to assist its mission.

A Valdese Blogger said...

Thanks anon!