Monday, 30 April 2012
This top picture is a great example of what you see when driving through the prairies. This is the tiny town of Kenaston, Saskatchewan in between Saskatoon and Regina. The town has a population of 259!
The bottom picture is yet another huge roadside object:the world's largest coffee pot and mug!
Sunday, 29 April 2012
We spent much of our time in Saskatoon on First Nations reserves meeting with the truly original ancestors of this land. Their history dates back more than 6000 years with some artifacts thought to be of people living during the ice ages! After Canada (or what we now call Canada) was "discovered" the Queen signed Treaties with the Indigenous peoples. Since this first contact First Nations have lost pieces of their culture; however it was after colonization, and continuing throughout the last century, that First Nations peoples have lost the most. From the deaths of small pox, to the massacre of millions, to the appropriation of the land, to the oppression of their culture and the kidnapping and abuse of their children, the First Nations of this land have suffered significantly. UNESCO in 1996 declared that approximately %50 of Canada's 50 Aboriginal languages are facing extinction. Much of the population is living in Urban centres away from their elders and culture. It would be so sad if we did not educate ourselves, teach others and embrace the rich culture of our First Nations peoples. If you are interested in doing so get in contact with your local Friendship Centre or Tribal Council to find out how.
We'd like to thank John Spyglass of the Saskatchewan Indain Cultural Centre and Tyrone Tootoosis at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park as well as others who enlightened us with history, traditions, language, stories, experiences, and culture!
Saturday, 28 April 2012
April in Northern Sasktchewan, Rv'ing across the country in a converted van, and staying in an RV park before the normal season means that it's cold, you have no bathroom and the bathroom at the campsite is closed...
So heating up water with the kettle and going as fast as you can will have to do for today's shower!
Friday, 27 April 2012
Thursday, 26 April 2012
It may have been the balmy weather (25 degrees!), the small-town feel (despite its population of over 250,000) or the beautiful neighbourhoods we passed through that left us with a great impression of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The name Saskatoon, or sâskwatôn in Cree language, comes from the sweet Saskatoon Berry found and eaten often in the area. The city is also called the "Bridge City" referring to its 7 river crossings. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at 4.5% and judging by the friendliness of the people we encountered in the city, on the First Nations reserves and in the neighbourhoods surrounding, I would definitely consider the move!
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
The obsession with large objects continues as we visit the border town of Lloydminster, AB/SK. The town literally lies half in Alberta and half in Saskatchewan and is home to the world's largest border markers!
Our first stop in Saskatchewan was a little campground on Silver Lake. We enjoyed the sunset while watching hundreds of birds fly and sing around us. This province is Canada's best for bird watching and is already living up to this title!
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
We are learning that Canadians seem to have a strange obsession with extra large objects. Here we have the World's Largest Easter Egg (or "Pysanka" in Ukranian) from Vegreville, AB. Below is a picture of some huge sausage in the small Ukranian town of Mundare, AB.
Alberta (and Canada in general) has a large Ukranian immigrant population that has brought us delicious foods like the sausage and the perogy. Actually, I hear the World's Largest Perogy is not too far north of here!
Monday, 23 April 2012
I cannot take credit for the nickname "Oil"berta, nor do I actually know who it came from, but what I can tell you is that some guy came over and just signed the back of our van one afternoon in Edmonton "Welcome to 'Oil'berta!" He then proceeded to put the marker that he used under our windshield wiper - coincidentally the exact marker we were looking to buy that afternoon (our original had ran out)!
Anyway, we have left Edmonton, Alberta and made the trip to Saskatchewan! Edmonton was not the most exciting place we have passed through on our journey, although we didn't go the "The Ranch" nor did we ride a bull so the jury is still out! If you asked me what I'd recommend to visit in the city of Edmonton I'd answer: "Andrea & Paul." Those are the two friends who not only invited us into their home, but drove us to Jasper National Park, toured us around the City of Edmonton and joined us for fun-filled and dessert-included nightly feasts at their kitchen table! I'm not sure if their open for tourism-type business but let me tell you their adorable 18 month-old English Bulldog Frank is sure to welcome any attention!
Friday, 20 April 2012
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
For one of the biggest malls in the Americas, West Edmonton Mall doesn't actually seem too different from your average mall - that is until you turn a corner and come upon an ice rink, roller coaster or indoor beach with wave pool!
The mall contains an indoor amusement park with 24 rides, a water park with the world's largest indoor wave pool with a bungy tower and 17 waterslides, an underground aquarium that houses 100 species including sharks and penguins, an NHL-size ice rink, 2 mini-golf courses, a bowling alley, bumper boats, high ropes, and an exact replica of Christopher Columbus' ship!!!!
It is Alberta's # 1 tourist attraction... I'm not sure if that is a good thing, especially after visiting Jasper, Alberta.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
We spent the weekend in Jasper. Spanning 11,228km² it is one of Canada's 42 National Parks and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is possibly one of the most beautiful spots in Canada to take a hike and has over 1200 km of trails! For anyone looking to have a true Canadian experience with wildlife at your cabin door-step Jasper is the place you want to visit.
Monday, 9 April 2012
We stopped in for a morning at the ranch with our new friend Rob Purdie. He and his wife, Lynda, are the 5th generation family members to work and live on that land just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. Not only does Rob know this land better than anyone, but he knows the animals just as well. He roped and had a horse who'd never been trained following him in minutes!
He passes along his vast knowledge of life on the ranch to his children, grandchildren and people like us who take the time to stay at the wonderful bed and breakfast him and his wife run out of their modest home in the hills. Rob told us that a weird day would be a day that he didn't get on his horse!
You can check out the website if you are interested in staying on a real ranch or just enjoying the company of two very kind and interesting hosts at www.rolynhills.com.
We stayed in a campground just outside of Calgary - this picture above was one of our neighbours. We then enjoyed a breakfast and a walk along the riverfront of the city.
One thing I can tell you for sure: the urban and rural sectors are very different!
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Banff is a lovely mountain town full of tourists, but if you look a little closer it is also a place filled with wildlife. We saw elk, deer and a coyote during our first few hours in Banff! Apparently there are some roads closed off parts of the year just because they are so full of travelling wildlife. Not to mention the lakes, mountains and natural attractions like hoodoos to see as well. It definitely won't be long before I'm back visiting Banff again.
Friday, 6 April 2012
We've finally crossed the BC border! As much as we are sad to leave such a beautiful province behind us, we are motivated as the first part of our journey is complete.
British Columbia was amazing! There may be no beauty like it in the world. Between the endless shorelines and massive trees of the Island; to Vancouver's harbour, beaches and funky neighbourhoods; to the lakes, vineyards and ski hills of the Okanagan; to the rivers and trails of the many small mountain towns along the way: BC is a place that every Canadian should see.
Thursday, 5 April 2012
So I lied - Revelstoke was not our last stop, or at least it was meant to be our last stop but then we discovered the town of Golden, BC and we just had stay in this province a little longer!
Golden is a town of just over 4000 inhabitants nestled between 3 mountain ranges, 2 rivers and 5 national parks! The people are incredibly friendly, to the point that many have already come over and introduced themselves, including the Mayor! It is obviously a strong community of people who enjoy nature all year long and appreciate the beautiful natural amenities in their own backyard!
This actually is not the first time I've heard about Golden and it's friendly residents. My sister-in-law Mariska and her friend Mark were biking through BC years ago and their bikes broke down in the middle of the mountains. They decided to hitchhike into the nearest town. A couple from Golden picked them up, brought them to their home, made them dinner and offered for Mariska and Mark to stay the night! The next morning when the pair woke up they found breakfast on the table and their bikes fixed in the driveway! To top it all off this couple even got their friend to open his bike shop and hook them up with some boxes for the bikes so that they could take the bus that afternoon! That's Golden, BC for you!
Needless to say, it was not a surprise to find out that many residents of Golden were people who broke down on the highway, came into town and never left!
Monday, 2 April 2012
We're on the road again and have our last stop of BC - Revelstoke! A tiny little railway town surrounded by massive mountain peaks and a ton of snow! It's North America's highest lift-serviced ski mountain at 5,620 feet!
We were reminded to take our time and enjoy the ride as we stopped at nice lakes along the way. We saw a sign for Eagle River Golf Course and just as we drove by two eagles flew overhead and landed at the side of the river. We quickly turned around and grabbed our cameras just in time to see the Eagles soar down and find their lunch!