September 9th, 2007: Yup – we’re on the road again, and as I write this I have no idea if I will be able to send it out.
We left Tuesday afternoon and drove to Mozart where we had coffee with Laurie at the Mozart Co-op Store. We admired a chess set that Laurie had made, using combinations of nuts, bolts and washers to make the various men. I gather it’s quite popular with the coffee crowd there.
Then we went to Yorkton and stayed at the Yorkton City Campground, just west of the city on Highway #16. It’s small, only 54 sites, but they are among the nicest sites we have seen – level, shaded and private. We highly recommend it.
Next stop was at Whitewood, where we had a nice visit with Joe Ashfield of Whitewood Trading Co. (an antique store). Joe used to be editor of Whitewood’s weekly newspaper and as such was acquainted with Barry Needham of Wynyard. Joe still writes a weekly column. He knows everybody and everything about Whitewood – indeed, about all the towns along #1 Highway – and is well worth talking to. He told us that a year ago, a prospective buyer would have a choice from 20 or 25 residential properties in the town; this year there might be two. Properties are being bought up by people from Alberta, and also by long distance truck drivers, looking for a better place to raise their families.
From there we went to Bear Claw Casino north of Carlyle. While there, we ran into Shirley and Lawrence Lemieux – Shirley lived with us for awhile in the early ‘60s while she attended high school, and has kept in touch ever since. We had supper with them at the Casino.
We stayed overnight on the Casino parking lot, plugged into power (by permission). Next day we drove down to Lemieux’s place north-west of Alida. Nothing but oil wells – that was all we could see looking out any window. Lawrence doesn’t have mineral rights on his land, but still gets a pretty nice income from each well. We had a great visit, including a tour of Lawrence’s beautiful old cars, mostly from the ‘60s to ‘80s, and mostly driveable and immaculate.
From there we drove straight through to Souris and settled into a very nice site in their Victoria Park Campground. It is a major campground, with over two hundred sites. Beautifully treed, so almost every site has shade. Lots of playgrounds, hiking trails, a swimming pool in season, and excellent showers and toilets. Plum Creek, a scenic little waterway, almost encircles the park so most sites overlook the creek. There is a short walk to town, though quite a hill to climb. The campground is full pretty well all summer; I suspect it makes Souris a tourist destination.
A lot of my growing up was done in Souris. My grandparents lived here, and my uncle and two cousins still do. We summered there sometimes, and any time there was a disaster in Winnipeg, such as a flood or epidemic, we got shipped off to Souris. My grandparents had a summer cottage right on the banks of the Souris River, across from the town, and Grandpa had an old rowboat. Anyone caught chewing gum had to give it up to patch holes in the boat. When I was about four, I decided to take my little sister, Liz, for a ride in the boat. Unfortunately, my rowing skills weren’t too well developed and I had no control over the boat, so we drifted down the river towards the dam. My grandfather spotted us, made a mad dash for the dam and caught us before we went over. My memory has blocked out whatever chastisement I received, but I am sure it was severe. Grandpa’s patience was finite.
Souris is famous for its swinging bridge, knocked out by floodwaters and ice several times but always rebuilt. It’s a beauty. We weren’t allowed to ride our bikes across it, but sometimes did. I should have known better, because Grandpa always walked across the bridge going to and from his office, and one time I met him halfway across. More chastisement. I don’t think I could sit down on my bike seat for awhile after that.
At the corner of the two busiest streets in Souris we came upon a peacock, (below) picking away at something on the sidewalk and ignoring people passing by. Souris has a bird sanctuary and apparently at one time it imported some peacocks. The peacocks had little patience for the chain-link fence around the sanctuary and adopted Souris as its own preserve. Traffic just waits for them, or finds a way around. When they get tired of town life, they go back to the sanctuary and fly over the fence.
From here, it’s on to some small towns or former towns in south-western Manitoba. This is fun. Don’t know when we’ll get back home.
Many people have asked if we are sick, or dead, or just getting lazy, because our column wasn’t on our Greenwater Report site for several weeks. We did miss a week in there, but mostly it was because our server was on holidays so didn’t post the column. She should have been back in early September so by now it is likely right up to date. If it happens again, go to http://ensign.ftlcomm.com/, Tim Shire’s e-magazine, and you will likely find it there.