OK mister –you have some
explaining to do, I thought to myself.
All roads lead to Saskatchewan –I swear.
Over the last several years, no matter where I’ve ventured, there’s always someone, or something, from my beloved province.
When my son and I were in Hawaii on a press trip, we thought that we had travelled to the ends of the earth and had gone a substantial enough distance from our roots so as not to have any connections at all. And we were mostly right. No matter where we went — the booming metropolis of Honolulu, the quiet shores of Oahu’s north or the raging coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii itself — we could hardly find a Canadian, let alone a Saskatchewanian.
On the beach we met visitors from Australia who told us about city life in Melbourne, we ran into delightful college girls from Utah who challenged us to a sandcastlebuilding contest and we shared a catamaran trampoline with a family from Holland. These fellow tourists would nod politely when we said we were from Central Canada –clearly not having a clue what a Prairie province might be. The rare one knew where Vancouver was, but we quickly stopped mentioning the name “Saskatchewan” for fear of getting that blank look that had now become the norm.
But then, we made our way to Kualoa Ranch where I had one of the most delightful “Saskatchewanian” reunions that I have had to date. The owner of the ranch, a rather unlikely looking cowboy with tanned skin, an American accent and a decidedly “city-looking” pair of shoes, introduced himself and asked where we were from.
“Canada,” I said.
“Where ’bouts?” he asked.
“Oh, Central Canada,” I replied, keeping it vague on purpose, as I knew this Hawaiian cowboy or “paniolo” could not possibly know where Saskatchewan was.
“Alberta?” he asked.
Wow, I was impressed. This was as much geographic knowledge as we had encountered throughout our entire two-week trip.
“Close,” I said. “We’re east of Alberta.”
“Oh, Saskatchewan,” he replied, with such clarity and precision of emphasis on the “Sask” that I swore he had to have lived here at one time.
This guy pronounced our province’s name better than any Torontonian or Vancouverite I’ve run across, slurring the “wan” so well that it sounded nothing like the “wOn” so often found in the dialects of those from British Columbia and Ontario.
“Have you been?” I asked, despite my bewildered state.
“No, no –never been.”
OK mister –you have some explaining to do, I thought to myself.
“Actually, we have a horse here called Saskatchewan,” he said, again pronouncing our province’s name as if he had been born in Moosomin or Midale.
As it turns out, it is Saskatchewan the horse who was actually born and raised in our Prairie province. Apparently, this extremely busy tourist ranch, which is home to over 100 horses, finds that some of the best-trained animals come from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
So, Saskatchewan the horse was plucked from his Prairie roots at the tender age of three or four, trucked by semi to a U. S. port and shipped by boat over to this spectacular oceanside ranch in Oahu, Hawaii.
Later in the day, we got to meet the towering chestnut quarter-horse who is as trustworthy as they come. The calm creature sniffed at us as if he recognized the scent of Saskatchewan’s crops on our clothes.
We gave him an enthusiastic pet, promised to bring greetings back home for him and thanked him for teaching the Hawaiian paniolo how to so eloquently pronounce “Saskatchewan.”
I swear –no matter how far you think you’ve gone to distance yourself, all roads lead back to Saskatchewan.
Christalee Froese writes from Montmartre, Saskatchewan and welcomes comments at [email protected]