Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prairie Paradise

I'm still savouring my recent trip to Saskatchewan. Its opulent simplicity feels like a feather bed for the soul. It seems fitting to quote David Bouchard while I illustrate my impressions of the place where my ancestors eked out an existence with the volatile climate. I discovered that when the wind storms blew away the soil on my great grandfather's farm he and his wife and three children walked away from the land they had tried to tame and he took up the trade of a stonemason at the age of 55.

They started their life again by making their home in a silo on the Shackleton farm just outside of Kennedy, Saskatchewan. My great grandfather found work with the stonemasons constructing the Moose Mountain Resort. He also worked on many of the stone structures that furnish the popular resorts such as the Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper tourist centre.

My grandmother soon realized there were few opportunities for her and she moved to Vancouver in 1938. My grandfather Shackleton followed her out West and proposed to her when he stepped off the train in Vancouver. He always emphasized that he purchased a ticket to ride inside the train rather than 'ride the rails' as many were forced to do in order to find employment.

We are the only branch that came out West. My entire grandfather's Shackleton family has remained on the prairies. We returned this month to celebrate my Great Aunt's 100th birthday.

I took these photos on the road between Esterhazy and Yorkton~just before I received a speeding ticket!

Words by David Bouchard, "If You're Not From The Prairie"


ms toast burner said...

What an interesting family history, Kathreen. It's often very humbling to hear the stories of ancestors... imagine your farm's life blood blowing away! Unreal...

It's refreshing to see someone else 'get' the prairies. So many people I know just see flatness and equate it to boring. Their loss! The prairies have a magic that's all their own and I love it.

My sympathies on the speeding ticket... it's really hard not to speed when you can see soooo far ahead of yourself!

Kathreen said...

I guess there are different expressions of beauty. The mountains stun you with majesty. The prairies lure you with the calm sweep of unending patterns of colour.

Anne.D said...

Nice pictures. Simple but going to the "essential". The feeling is strong for me.

And I very much like the combination of your pictures with the writing. Once enhances the other; they do that without "disturbing" each other.

I also love your blue whale skeleton picture.

Kathreen said...

Thank you Anne

The prairies are refreshingly simple. The blue whale experience was astounding. I'll revisit the whale project later this year to discover the progress they're making on the reconstruction.