FTLComm - Saskatoon - February 6, 2000

The clear morning light and a cloudless sky present the perfect backdrop for the vapour from the University of Saskatchewan's heating plant to catch the golden shades of the winter sun.

Saskatoon is one of the most attractive cities in North America with its river, many bridges and a collective sense for the dramatic use of stones, the University is a focus of pride for the people of this city. In many ways the University is as symbolic as it is reality both for what it represents and what it is as a part of the community in which it resides. A large number of students, the faculty and the massive infrastructure needed to
support such an institution
produces a clearly identifiable Saskatoon mindset. It is for the most part an arrogant and somewhat condescending view of the world, but it is their view, and looking at the atmosphere around the campus, one can see the years and history that has gone into creating this collective symbol of this city.

Built on the banks of the Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon has a skyline, unlike Regina that just has a line, or a sky, but not both. Saskatoon's downtown has some imposing buildings but its commerce is mostly a thing of the past. Like so many other urban areas the real economic activity takes place in the suburban
shopping centres.

However, the view from any of its bridges is impressive and gives its residents good reason to be proud of the ambiance created by such an interesting setting. The river is lined with a series of the most wonderful parks that provide for outstanding opportunities for every citizen to stroll, jog, cross country ski, or just sit around in a place of beauty. It is to the credit of the city's planners and government to have both created this atmosphere and to have continued to support it with excellent maintenance and constant upgrading.

The River itself is a living organism of sorts as it rises and falls with the demands in electrical power that increase and decrease the flow of water into the river an hour's drive away at the Gardener Dam. This year it has not frozen over but a wide channel continues to flow along with ice pans and pressure ridges. But as a backdrop for the park system it is perfect, because of the
constantly changing scene
that is produced by the living river.

The street that runs along the West side of the river from downtown toward the North is Spadina and along it are some of the most elegant and interesting houses in the city (see today's pictures of some of these homes) Perhaps best of all, is that this water front enjoys the morning. The full sky and the cheerful sun own this part of the city each day until mid day and everyone
can experience this unobstructed

A modest fog over night had decorated much of Northern Saskatchewan Saturday and in these pictures you can see the frost on the trees. This magnificent example was in a Park far up along the river and seemed like a really big sparkling gem as the ice crystals merge in the brilliant sunlight to produce a single entity.

This park area was experiencing a steady flow of people as they jogged through on the cleared pathways, walked along with their dogs, or were on cross country skis, enjoying the gentle rises and falls of the river side trails. Only a few hundred feet from a series of town houses and condominiums, only a couple of vehicles were in the small parking lot, as most people simply walk across the street into this great recreational area.

"What is that noise?" I asked this lady sitting on a park bench.

"Oh, its just the city." she replied pleasantly, " highways, trains, cars, there are no factories or anything in this area, just the city."
"Somebody should turn it
off" I grumbled because the serenity of this place was disturbed by the constant rumble, low pitched and omnipresent. "Perhaps it is the river valley that concentrates the sound." I speculated and she nodded.

"I just like to sit here and enjoy the sun." she said as a young couple came toward us with two self propelled fur balls wearing socks. The dogs eagerly greeted the lady's terrier and went through their ritual of checking on identity, sex and potential. Released from their leashes all three dogs blasted around putting their name tags on the trees and shrubs and bouncing against one another in the fluffy snow. The lady and the young couple went through their
identification ritual about dwelling locations and expressed their enjoyment of being outside in the great weather that had blessed their city. Without the dogs, no doubt this encounter and social exchange, would never have taken place and we all gained from the experience and interaction.

Its funny how we set up our environments to bring us together and keep each apart. I had visited a shopping mall and set off to find a washroom. A maze of corridors lead to the appropriate rooms but all of these hallways were lined with mirrors creating illusions and confusion. There was even a curved mirror at an intersection to let you see the confusing mirror images around the corner. I decided to snap a picture of the scene but it is as confusing and the real thing.

My last image in looking at Saskatoon is a bit of an enigma and that seems completely appropriate. Having never lived in Saskatoon and only wondered what made people who live there, or who have gone to school in that city, so over bearing, I have been curious to find out just what it is that makes Saskatoon, Saskatoon. I am not
sure I have the answer, or that I am even on the right track, but it looks to me like there is a seriously complex connection between the University, the river and the people who decided long ago to settle here. Saskatoon was originally settled by a group of temperance people, folks who were against hard liquor and what not, many people attribute this legacy to being part of the definition. For now I am going to stick to the university and the river.

Strolling around the Education building on campus, I came across this the psychology lounge. Keep in mind that it is now the fifth of February the Chinese New Year and yet this lounge still has its Christmas tree and Christmas greeting. The fact that this is the psychology lounge in the education building must have some hidden meaning, I am going to have to work on that, but if you have any ideas, I would enjoy hearing them.

Timothy W. Shire