Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lethbridge to Medicine Hat to Moose Jaw to Regina by Margaret Ullrich


Waking in Lethbridge thirty-eight years ago was a good thing.
We had slept well the night before.
Supper at a normal hour, no paint fumes, no more mountains to drive through.
Lethbridge in 1975 was a quiet town, with half the population it has now.

The mild chinook winds were making Alberta quite comfortable that February.
We drove 51 km northeast to Taber, the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 36.
We just wanted to get to Regina as quickly as possible.
So we didn't take any time to see the sights.
Maybe, in hindsight, we could've spared some time.
Traveling through Alberta was a really easy drive.

On to Medicine Hat on the Trans-Canada Highway, the eastern terminus of the Crowsnest Highway, and the South Saskatchewan River.

The name "Medicine Hat" is the English translation of 'Saamis' (SA-MUS) – the Blackfoot word for the eagle tail feather headdress worn by medicine men.  
In 1883, when the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Medicine Hat and crossed the river a town site was established using the name from the Indian legends.

Medicine Hat has 2,512 hours of sunshine per year, quite a change from Vancouver.
It also has large natural gas fields.
Rudyard Kipling said it has "all hell for a basement".
We just kept driving through to Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan doesn't get half as much notice as other Canadian provinces.
Which is a shame.
It has played a very important part in Canada's history.

Saskatchewan was the home of John Diefenbaker.
He was the 13th Prime Minister of Canada (1957 – 1963).
Okay… Diefenbaker was born in Neustadt, Ontario, on September 18, 1895.
But, in 1910, the Diefenbaker family moved to Saskatoon so that John and his brother Elmer could attend high school.

Saskatchewan was also the home of Tommy Douglas.
Okay… Douglas was born on October 20, 1904, in Falkirk, Scotland.
His family emigrated to Canada in 1910, settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

What was it about that year 1910?

In 1944 Tommy Douglas became premier of Saskatchewan.
Under his government, Saskatchewan became the first province to have Medicare.
That's government-funded mandatory universal medical insurance.
Canada's pride and joy!!

Under Douglas the government of Saskatchewan brought in groundbreaking measures:
Equality of education for all.
Collective bargaining for all workers including civil servants.
First Arts Board in Canada.
First to introduce a Farm Security Act in North America.
First to grant the right to vote at age 18.
First to introduce the 8-hour work day, the 5-day work week, and paid holidays.
First Small Claims Court in North America.
First Bill of Rights in Canada.

In 2004 Tommy Douglas was voted “The Greatest Canadian” in a national CBC Television contest.
Among the nominees were Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Terry Fox.

And let's not forget Tommy's daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, who married Canadian actor Donald Sutherland.
Their son Kiefer Sutherland portrayed Jack Bauer on the Fox series 24, and won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Satellite Awards.

Let's hear it for Saskatchewan!!

We soon drove through 218 kilometres to Swift Current. 
A survey of 100 cities by Meteorological Services of Canada shows Swift Current has the third most sunshine (a yearly average of 2,374 hours), the fifth clearest skies and the least smoke and haze in the country.
Also a very nice place, but we just wanted to get to Regina.

Another 170 kilometres and we were in Moose Jaw.
Moose Jaw is in south-central Saskatchewan, on the Moose Jaw River.
After the previous two days, we found it to be flat and extremely cold.
The chinook winds which made Alberta comfortable didn't reach Saskatchewan.
We were surprised that such sunny places could be so cold.
I mean, compared to the snow-capped mountains, shouldn't we have been warmer?

Bits of trivia…
Residents of Moose Jaw are known as Moose Javians.

The intersection of the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek was chosen as a site for the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose construction was significant in Confederation of Canada.  The water supply there was perfect for steam locomotives. 

Marked on a map as Moose Jaw Bone Creek in an 1857 survey by surveyor John Palliser two theories exist as to how it got its name: 
One is it comes from the Plains Cree name moscâstani-sîpiy meaning "a warm place by the river", thanks to the protection from the weather the Coteau range provides.
(Also the Plains Cree word moose gaw, meaning warm breezes.) 
The other is that the Moose Jaw River is shaped like a moose's jaw.
Take your pick...

After driving another 77 kilometres we were in Regina.     
Regina is the the capital city and the second-largest city in Saskatchewan.

Named after Queen Victoria, it started out as Pile o' Bones, a humble tent settlement on treeless plain near a small, winding creek. Today it has an urban forest of more than 350,000 hand-planted trees, an extensive park system, and major attractions. 

Residents are proud of the city they've built, and welcome visitors warmly with handshakes, helpful advice and genuine smiles.

All we met were the motel and store clerks, but they were nice enough.
Thanks to the none stop driving, we got there early.
Our room didn't have a kitchen.
No problem - a KFC was down the street.

We were quite relaxed after having driven about 770 kilometers.
It had been a cold, flat, uneventful drive.
While eating our chicken dinner in our room we watched the news.
Then we watched Hansel & Gretel on CBC.
All in all a very nice night in Regina.

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