Boom and Bust in a Prairie Town


Highway 13 in southwestern Saskatchewan is officially known as the Redcoat Trail but it might be more correctly called the Ghost Town Trail. Drive west from Assiniboia and you are hard pressed to see many of the towns that used to exist along that highway. Now that almost every grain elevator is gone, what is left seems to disappear into the landscape. A few houses and trees. Possibly a church. Maybe an abandoned school or garage. Maybe a falling-in rink. Perhaps a gas station alongside the highway. Nothing more. Continue reading “Boom and Bust in a Prairie Town”

Dempster Highway Blues

(The Dempster Highway runs from just outside Dawson, YK, to Inuvik, NWT. It is 750 km of bone-jarring, mind-numbing, tire-shredding gravel road. So, why drive it? Because it’s there. Because the scenery is spectacular. Because driving it bestows some kind of perverse badge of honour. That’s why.)

I drove the Dempster Highway
In Twenty-seventeen.
It is the meanest highway
That I have ever seen.

I’ve got the Dempster,
Driving Dempster Highway blues.
It’s a long and lonely highway,
I’ve got those Dempster blues.

The first day I was lucky,
I made a hundred miles.
The second day I had to stop
The tundra was on fire.

The fire was a-ragin’
The smoke, it stung my eyes.
I didn’t mind because it choked
Mosquitoes and black flies

Continue reading “Dempster Highway Blues”

The New House


(In 1917, my grandfather, Abe Hanna, moved the homestead one mile across the section to just north of the village of Meyronne, SK. There, he built a new house and barn. Here’s how Abe recorded the move in his diary.)

June 27: Commenced digging new cellar

July 11: Dug out foundation for barn

July 18: Commenced putting in concrete for cellar wall

July 28: Put in cement foundation for barn

August 3: Put cement floor in cellar in pm

August 6: Messrs Leadly and Hisey with four men commenced building barn

August 7: Put curbing in well in am. Carpenters commenced raising framework of barn at 10:30

September 10: Put in [barn] cement floor in am [this went on for several days]

September 29: Carpenters arrived with tools at 9 pm Continue reading “The New House”

Who Are We?

We are complex, complicated people, the intersection of DNA, place and family – both Nature and Nurture.

Some – geneticists, psychologists, neurologists, behavioural scientists, anthropologists – try to plumb that intersection through their studies; others – artists, musicians, writers – through their art. So far, all they have learned is what we already know – that we are complex, complicated people.

These stories – some fact, some fiction, some a bit of both – are my attempt to understand what has made us who we are, what I am.