Journal of a Canadian Immigrant

Carrot River - Tuesday, February 4, 2003 by: Sandra McIntyre

I have now been in Carrot River Saskatchewan for six months. I am applying for Permanent Resident status. (Here's a link to Citizenship & Immigration Canada's site.) since arriving in August, whenever anyone asked

"Do you like it here?"

my rather flip reply has always been,

"I love it, so far, but ask me again in February!"

Well, here it is, February, and I am still loving it here, but now I have a better idea why.

This Sunday morning, about 8:30 am, I was awakened by the doorbell. Throwing on a shirt, I staggered, sleepy-eyed, to the back door. There stood our neighbor, Nellie, from three doors down, and I could tell immediately she was distressed.

When I opened the door, she immediately apologized, and I eventually got it that she was locked out of her house. Not just locked out, but frozen out. She'd locked the door behind her, when she took her dog Molly out for a walk, and when she returned, on turning the key, she heard something break inside the lock, and couldn't turn the key.

Sunday morning in small town Saskatchewan, you're on your own, except for your neighbors. Businesses are closed, except for a gas station and confectionary. Nellie called the gas station, but they had no one to send, so she was referred to a person's phone number she didn't know. I could tell she was uncomfortable calling someone she didn't know, on a Sunday morning, and she was becoming increasingly worried about her dog, still out in the cold, used to being warm in the house.

Having had some experience with replacing door hardware, I offered to help, but only after I had my morning coffee. I offered her a cup, and proceeded to sip myself more awake. Preparing to go outdoors in the Saskatchewan winter morning still requires some thought on my part. New to this part of the world, I still have to remember BEFORE I go out that I must cover my head, wear mitts, and make sure my scarf is wrapped, but still loose enough, to cover my face, if there is any breeze. Hey, I'm from California, where sandals and a t-shirt are usually enough, all year 'round...

I grabbed my tool kit!

Nellie said that the last time her lock had frozen, the person who finally got her door open had used an axe to break the doorknob off. Good thing she'd seen it done before, because while I may have experienced replacing door hardware, I have never wielded an axe, and I wouldn't have thought to use the blunt edge of the blade, as Nellie did. ( I thought the only part that "worked" was the blade edge! )

Two strokes later, the knob was dangling from the door. I pried the knob off, and then used a round file from my tool kit to turn the lock mechanism and open the door.

Success! Poor Molly, the dog, had even stopped whimpering and dancing at the end of her leash, by this time. I was nearly as glad as Nellie was, to get the short-haired, shivering Lab back indoors, where it was warmer. I was glad, too, to warm my hands up, a bit, as I had removed my mitts to finish removing the door hardware.

Nellie asked what did she owe me for helping her out, and I said, "Just your friendship." Besides, it made me feel strong and capable, a real Saskatchewan Prarie woman, to have successfully wielded tools and helped a neighbor out of difficulty.

I'm feeling more at home, here, everyday.


Sandra McIntyre



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