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Southern Saskatchewan

Big sky and lone trees... the forgotten land of southern Saskatchewan

A TRIP BY BRAMWELL RYAN

SEPTEMBER 22-28, 2010

Itinerary Sept 22  -­‐  left  Winnipeg  drove  to  Moose  Jaw,  slept  in  car  in  Walmart  parking   lot Sept  23  -­‐  shopped  in  Swift  Current,  drove  to  Cypress  Hills  park  (west  block),   drove  to  Cypress  Hills  East  block,  camped  overnight Sept  24  -­‐  toured  Fort  Walsh,  drove  to  Grasslands  National  Park,  camped   overnight Sept  25  -­‐  toured  GNP,  hiked  70  Mile  Butte  and  Eagle  Butte,  camped  overnight Sept  26  -­‐  hiked  into  backcountry  in  GNP  (Timbergulch  trail),  camped   overnight Sept  27  -­‐  hiked  out  of  backcountry,  drove  to  Estevan,  slept  in  motel Sept  28  -­‐  drove  to  Winnipeg,  via  Turtle  Mountain

lorem ipsum dolor met set quam nunc parum

2009


Oakshela

Abandoned A forgotten  land.  Abandoned  long  ago  to  weeds,  scrub  and  bugs.  The   early  settlers  who  gave  up  their  westward  push  in  this  area  put  roots  into   ground  hard  enough  to  crush  their  dreams  and  their  seed. And  this  hard  scrabble  place  cowering  under  the  big  sky  continues  to   demand  solitude  and  more  forsaking.  The  hamlet  of  Oakshela,  13  km  east  of   Grenfell,  is  a  graveyard.  Home  to  four  houses,  ten  people  and  a  scrapyard  of   old  cars,  truck  trailers,  cabs  and  tanks. “There  used  to  be  a  school  here,  a  post  office  there  and  lots  of  families,”   says  the  old  man  who  abandoned  his  job  on  the  pipeline  due  to  a  leg  injury.   Now  he  tends  the  ruins  of  his  patch  of  earth,  left  behind  by  his  kids  and  his   neighbours.  He  drives  the  hamlet  in  a  golf  cart,  bumping  along  what  was  the   main  street  but  is  now  a  wide  path  of  grass.  He  manicures  the  lawn  road,   tending  his  memories. Oakshela  was  even  abandoned  by  the  church.  The  German  language   Lutheran  building  is  now  busted  and  broken;  the  entrance  piled  high  with  bird   shit  and  the  sanctuary  a  storage  room  for  old  school  desks.  “It  used  to  be  quite   a  place,”  says  the  old  man.  “But  it’s  gone  now.  All  gone…  but  us.”

All gone  but  us...

Key trip  stats  -­‐  2,650  km  |  total  cost  $600  |  6  days All  photographs  by  Bramwell  Ryan  |  dispatches.ca


Forsaken


Pass through

Swift Current  is   the  pass-­‐through   town  of  the  sea   of  grass  called   the  prairies.  Far  enough  from  Winnipeg  and  Calgary,  it’s  a   destination  only  as  a  stopping  point.  No  one  wants  to  visit   the  town,  they  only  want  the  Tim’s,  the  Co-­‐op  gas,  the   casino  or  the  motels.  They  want  somewhere  to  slow  down   on  the  hurtle  across  the  Trans  Canada. Swift  Current  is  like  Calais  in  France.  The  end  of  the  line  for   trains  from  Paris  and  the  port  aimed  at  by  ferries  from  the   UK.  No  one  wants  to  visit  Calais  –  it’s  a  pass-­‐through  town. The  loneliest  jobs  in  the  world  –  working  the  local  tourism   desk  in  Swift  Current  and  Calais.

There are  no  lies  in  this  land.  It’s  too   hard  a  place.  But  it  is  a  land  of   questions:  why  are  you  here?   Perhaps  the  purpose  of  your  life  is   over  |  did  you  live  up  to  your  moment?

Profile for Bramwell Ryan

Southern Saskatchewan  

Photos and writing from a recent trip

Southern Saskatchewan  

Photos and writing from a recent trip

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