Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Big sky country

Prairie storm brewing near the Sakatchewan/Alberta border

I am writing this post, believe it or not, standing in Amynah's parents' basement workroom in Edmonton, with the computer sitting atop the clothes-dryer, as it is the only room where I can be assured a decent wireless signal while not keeping her awake with my typing. Such is life on the road.

Ottawa to here was a heck of trip - three days on the road, fifteen hours a day behind the wheel. My Dad graciously volunteered to help with the driving. Northern Ontario is a lot bigger, and a lot more French than I'd expected. Manitoba was exactly as flat as I remembered. I saw Cobalt Ontario for the first time - that being the small northern mining town where my parents started their married life and produced my older sister. I also saw a lot of other towns, villages, hamlets and lakes I'd never seen before.

The school where my Dad taught in Cobalt, Ontario

Canada is a country to challenge the imagination of any cartographer: how many names for geographical features can you come up with, after all? I imagined some poor soul at the end of a long night, staring at yet another blue blob on his map - "Long Lake taken? Broad Lake? Mary's Lake? Oh to heck with it, just call it Fish Lake and be done with it." My imaginary cartographer had really hit the end of his tether by Saskatchewan, when he named the Qu'Apelle Valley which I believe roughly translates as the "What do you call it" valley.

I have an awesome story about my visit to Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, but it will have to wait: but all of you in Europe receiving postcards from me in the next few days should pay particular attention to the cancellation stamp.

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