Saturday, September 3, 2011

A day in Saskatoon

Saturday August 15th, 2011 was day 41 of the Share the Road, Share the Ride Motorcycle Awareness Conga and I spent the day with fellow rider Terry Hartshorne of the Saskatchewan Lonewolves.

Terry took me for a ride down along the river. The one street had such a huge canopy of trees shrouding it, you almost felt like you were in the country. We went to the river and Terry explained to me that there was a berm built in the South Saskatchewan River that is considered extremely dangerous because of the under tow it creates.

Saskatchewan RiverHe toured me around town pointing out different buildings and sites and then we went to his mom and dad’s for lunch – a feed of green tomatoes –which I had never had before and fish with corn.

Boom Town at the Western Development Museum
I ate so much I thought I was going to burst! After a wee bit of a visit, Terry and I decided to take in Boom Town at the Western Development Museum.
The fair was on so getting there was a bit of a challenge as traffic was super heavy, but it was so well worth the effort!

From the minute you walk into the museum you are completely transported back to simpler times.
Bank of Nova Scotia
Bank of Nova Scotia
 Every display mimicked the times and the eras they represented.  The street of Boom Town had it all, a restaurant, hotel, pool hall and barber shop.  The meat Shop cracked Terry up! The sign read – The home of Fresh Killed Meat!  The Fire Hall was really cool, filled with great examples of hand pulled and horse pulled fire trucks. The Black Smith Shop was another of my favourites.

Dry Goods Store
Dry Goods Store
The Watch Repair Shop/Jewellery Shop was filled with fine examples of cuckoo clocks and watches of the day. Some were truly fine pieces!

I spent a good long time in the Newspaper Office marvelling at the old type setting equipment and the primitive and yet effective way they used to communicate. The other place I got a charge out of was the Bank of Nova Scotia. Somehow I could see an old scene running through my head from some old western – you know, the robbers enter the bank – the horses tied up out front, ready to spirit the robbers away!
Watch Shop
Watch Shop

The jail house was pretty cool. It featured an RNWM Police officer and his desk and sleeping quarters. The cage that served as a jail cell parked right next to the officer’s desk!

The Dry Goods Store was filled with all kinds of old shoes, spats, Mary Janes…my gawd, that I even remember those things! You could buy a suit or a dress among other things here.
Chinese Laundry
Chinese Laundry

RNWM Police
RNWM Police
The pharmacy, the doctor’s office and the Chinese Laundry were all such interesting and intriguing displays. You felt like this town had been abandoned and found the way it was left.

The Steam EnginesThe shelves stocked and the antique automobiles and horses that were in the street, the buggies (some of them were just incredible, in such good shape), all combined, they left you with that surreal feel of actually being in a ghost town. 
But the shops of Boom Town were just the beginning. The Steam Engines and evolution of the train display was mind blowing. The enormity of this indoor display takes your breath away. They cover so many “generations” of the train. 

A Sod House
A Sod House
The Dirty Thirties Display took me straight back to memories of the photo albums and the stories shared with me by my dad, and his parents, my grand parents.  The old tractor buried in the wind swept dirt, the simplicity and harshness of the times. The stories of failures and triumphs, rickets and scurvy were all brought back to the fore of my memory.  The thirties were so hard on everyone, but the farmer in particular had it extremely hard and this series of displays depicted more stories so similar to the ones shared with me by my family members.

The Dirty 30's
The Dirty 30's
 The Eaton’s Catalogue house display was a curious one. Because my grand father was a carpenter he had built every home he and grandma ever lived in, this was something I don’t remember hearing of, buying your house out of a catalogue.

I learned that from the early 1900's until the late 1930's, catalogue homes were very popular in rural western Canada. The T. Eaton Company was one of several companies that provided plan books and drew plans for houses. The materials were shipped by rail to the nearest community and then hauled to the site for construction. The house that bears the T. Eaton plan # 674 had a catalogue price that included shingles, lumber, doors, mouldings, windows, paint, nails, hardware and building paper ranged from $1577 in $2049 in 1916!
The total price of the house depended on the extras that were added on. For the sum of $146.00 more you could add a "Hot Air Heating Plant" and for $180.00, a complete "Plumbing Outfit". The basement concrete and interior finishing were also extra.

A home with brick veneer could cost $8000 to build in 1917-1918.
Some of the extras that were available were a Delco power plant, a central vacuum, a septic system, a dumb waiter to the larder, a laundry chute and a separate stairway to a bedroom for the hired help. It was an education reading about the different kind of houses you could buy and the extras you could get with them…

The displays on agriculture and the history of the tractor were all as impressive as the others. You walked into a display and a recording came on explaining the history of the dirt house, the farmer’s wife and how hard her job was. Or you would hear the story about the evolution on the tractor; you could take a burn in the combine simulator, it sure gives you an appreciation for all who learned and evolved to provide us with the modern equipment we have today.
Tractor in the museum 
The evolution of the automobile was incredible, from the old buggy’s by companies like John Deer to Cadillac’s and old Ford’s. There isn’t a gear head alive who wouldn’t love this part of the museum’s displays. I could have spent twice the amount of time there that I did!
Automobiles in the Museum

It was already 5 o’clock and time to leave the museum behind. Both Terry and I commented to each other how enjoyable that had been. It was a great way to spend 3 and a half hours! We rode over to Uncle Barley’s and had a visit with Mustang Ani and then since Terry had offered to BBQ for supper, we rode back to his place and I visited with the dogs – two rescue pit bulls and three birds. The Amazon Grey Parrot was HILARIOUS. The things that bird could say! None of it bad, but he was a closet talker, he’s wait until you were leaving and say – See you later! By now…

After a good feed, Terry rode me back over to the hotel. I got my bike packed up and ready to go because in the morning I would be riding with the Canadian Legion of Riders in North Battleford.

If you are interested in visit the Western Development Museum & Boom Town in Saskatoon:
2610 Lorne Avenue South Saskatoon, SK
Canada  S7J 0S6

Tel: (306) 931-1910
Fax: (306) 934-0525
Web Site:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 16 - Saskatchewan, a place of many surprises….

 I arrived at my hotel – the Comfort Inn in Swift Current on Monday July 18th, and met up with Junior and his friend from Ontario. One of my sisters from the Ontario Chrome Divas, Terry, had told the guys where I was staying. They had attended Sturgis North and were on their way home to the Greater Toronto Area.

It was wonderful to meet these gents and share a few stories and some laughs.

The Swift Current Comfort Inn is a wonderful hotel that is located close to WalMart and many other amenities like Tim Horton’s. The staff is very friendly, and it seems to me that no matter where you stay, the staff make or break the visit.  Like all of the Comfort Inns, this location has a great continental breakfast and free internet. The rooms are spacious and clean and if you forget something like conditioner or a comb, the front desk staff is quick to help out.

Try them out for yourself the next time you find yourself in Swift Current, I am sure you will appreciate the many features that make this property rider friendly – the staff being one of the best features they offer!

1510 South Service Rd. E.
Swift CurrentSKS9H 3X6
Phone: (306) 778-3994
Fax: (306) 773-9312

Here is the link to their Rider Friendly Business Association® Phone Book ad on our web site:

After sharing breakfast and a few laughs and some conversation with the guys it was time to saddle up and head out. I decided to check out some of the small communities that I have ridden by in the past and I am so very glad that I did.

Day 16 of the Share the Road Share the Ride Motorcycle Awareness Conga!

The first stop was in Herbert, a very small town that has seen better days. 
The CP Rail Museum was what I wanted to see.  Herbert has another claim to fame as well – it is the home of Don Wittman of CBC Sports!

I had gone to the WalMart in Swift Current to exchange my new camera – the lens had quit retracting, and when I got to the museum I discovered the battery needed to be charged, so while I was waiting for the camera to charge I partook in a Mennonite tradition called Faspa.  Faspa is a light luncheon, traditionally served between lunch time and supper time – a coffee break if you will.  A Faspa includes buns, sandwich fixings like sausage and cheese with pickles, a beverage, coffee, tea, juice or water and a home made piece of cake or some other pastry.

While I was having my Faspa, a kindly old gentleman by the name of Bill Redekop asked to join me. Bill was a councillor for Herbert and for 20 years he was also the mayor of this little town.  He offered to take me through the museum and he regaled me with many interesting facts and stories. He also shared with me that the love of his life, his wonderful wife had MS and was in the hospital in Swift Current and that after the tour he would be heading there to go see her.  This 86 year young man had so much to share and the pride he feels for this little community was so evident as he spoke of its history.

The museum is filled with the history and artifacts of the region and its relationship with CP Railways.
One of the best stories Bill shared with me as we walked through the various exhibits was the one he told me while standing in front of the old jail cells. It appears that in 1923, a mother who was visiting Herbert and was expecting her baby needed a bed and the small hospital had none, so the doctor arranged for her to have a bed in the basement of the town hall in the jail cells. 

Bill Redekop telling the tale of the jail
Years later, that baby, Henry Bergen came back to visit Herbert to see the cell he was born in and expressed to Bill that he was often very embarrassed to be called a jail bird by his parents as he grew up!

The time I spent in Herbert with Bill was so rewarding and it is my hope that the next time you find yourself riding the Trans Canada through this area – you will stop in and experience this small museum and town and its warm and generous people.

After a rewarding visit in Herbert, I got on my bike and headed to the next small town, Morse

I had heard that their museum was a very interesting place to stop and folks – it is another little gem tucked away just off the Trans Canada highway.

The Morse Museum and Visitors Centre is housed in the very majestic 1912 built school house.
When you first walk in you see the information on the bird sanctuary and are greeted by the friendly staff that will walk you through the museum and its offerings. 
While I was there a tour of Asian visitors were taking in the splendours of old in the Victorian Parlour.
Victorian Parlour

This museum is crammed full of artifacts that make up the towns history and it is also an art gallery featuring the works of many local artisans. There are two levels to the museum and every room is filled with incredible displays including the black wedding gowns of the dirty thirties. 

Yes, that is right, wedding gowns in the thirties were mostly black – as a former florist this is a tidbit I already knew!  Why is that you ask? Well, in the thirties many women could not afford a wedding dress and so old dresses were dyed and revamped – the other reason, white fabrics were very expensive and hard to keep clean and the dress could then serve many other purposes later!

There are also fabulous displays of wool spinning wheels, old rifles, antique dentist chairs and hospital equipment. There is one room dedicated to old appliances like the washing machine and its evolution not to mention stoves, fridges, irons and other every day items we now take for granted that back in the pioneer days were worth their weight in gold.  Some of the other wondrous items in the museum are old pump organs, Victrolas and juke boxes.
The staff here is well versed in the history of Morse, what it meant to be a pioneer and the birds of Reed Lake and are eager to share with you their love of their town. It is an absolute must see.

The next stop for the day was Indian Head, the location of the TV Series Little Mosque on the Prairies. I happened to arrive as they were in the middle of filming the last episodes. 
The TV Series will not be renewed.  
One of the last days of filming for the final episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie

Indian Head is a lovely town and Saskatchewan’s provincial winner of the Communities in Bloom competition. The old homes here are stately and truly throw you back to a time of genteel and relaxed ways. It is also the new home of Valhalla Tattoos and Antiques.
RJ of Valhalla Tattoos

RJ and his wife have created a wonderful place for their business here. The tattoo portion of the shop is very clean and sterile and the antique side is filled with old signs and other unique collectables.

RJ took me for a tour of the town. 
What a pretty place. It is no wonder it was chosen to film the TV Series Little Mosque on the Prairie!

Victorian style homes with park like yards is why this town won the Communities in Bloom competition for Saskatchewan! What a gorgeous little town!
The temperature in southern Saskatchewan was 39 degrees and it was time to get on the bike and head for Brandon where Kirk Van Alstyne from the Manitoba Ride for Dad and a Winnipeg City Police Officer was meeting me to ride me to Winnipeg.

At Whitewood Sk, just before the Manitoba border, I stopped for fuel. As I entered the parking lot which was a sand pit I went to use my back brake only to discover I had none!
When I was in Penticton I had stopped in at CG Customs and had Jay tighten my new drive belt. 
At that time he had rerouted the breather hose and the filter for my air breather and sadly had not lifted the hose high enough and the filter had rubbed a hole in my back brake line. 
Nothing was open in Whitewood so I headed for Brandon very cognizant of the fact that I had no back brakes – it sure changes your riding style!

Next stop – Brandon Manitoba!