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Tompkins: a place in the sun
FTLComm - Tompkins - Thursday, April 20, 2006

When ever you talk to a realtor or a geographer they regard all things in relation to where they are; "location, location, locations". I have often pointed out that the prairie perspective, the point of view shared by people of the great central plains reflects very much the geographical and perhaps even the scenic environment in which they find themselves.

When people journey across Saskatchewan along the TransCanada highway they are often a bit overwhelmed with the monotony of the Saskatchewan landscape. Of course this is an illusion as the highway transverses the province only along a specific belt but it is understandable when people figure that the place is empty and without any interesting scenery. Early one morning, when there were still passenger trains travelling across Saskatchewan I woke up to the sad muttering of two elderly ladies in the seat ahead of me as they looked at the bleak flat lands from Davin into Regina. "Such a shame" said one and the other replied with a lament of her own wondering what possessed the people there to have cut down all the trees.

West of Moose Jaw the country side is pretty confusing as you pass through the hill country west of Parkbeg then the salt lake at Chaplin, the swallow but vast water south of Mores then launch up some hills near Rush Lake. Not at all the still flat lands seen around Regina. Swift Current is in a modest valley and beyond it the highway wends its way along the south side of the Great Sand Hills. By the time you get to Gull Lake the dried dusty country side looks pretty crisp. Gull Lake is in the midst of an oil field with pumps on both sides of the highway and off on the ridge of hills to the south are the tireless white sentries gouging energy from the ever passing wind.

Rising from Gull Lake the hills are more pronounced and the highway snakes over one crest to another with every road north heading directly into the tumbling inch deep topsoil covering the dunes. Half way between Gull Lake and Maple Creek is Tompkins with ranch land to the south its own set of wind mills and always a dry wind filled sky above .

This set of pictures shows the country side looking East as you travel from Tompkins to Gull Lake. They were taken with the sun behind us Tuesday early evening and the one above shows a train heading up hill going West out of Gull Lake.
Remember we are looking East in these pictures and the one above shows an oil battery and the Gull Lake Saskatchewan Wheat Pool inland terminal.
These three image, the one above and the two below illustrate that enormity of the endless prairies stretching out toward the West as the country slowly rises toward the foothills in Alberta and eventually the Rocky Mountains.
This was one of the most deadly stretches of road in Saskatchewan before the TransCanada was finally modified to a four lane highway. It always seems odd that this is usually about as green as this country gets often the only difference between summer and winter is the shade of brown.

But Tompkins is a jewel with almost every street, no matter how small, paved and most of the town has side walks. The home owners take enormous pride in their property with elaborate yards and a common sense of civility about the place. These fifty-four images were taken around 5:30 to six on Tuesday afternoon and in them you can see the sky which imprints on everything, the wind which is always present and you can see people making the best of their surroundings as the golf course was busy, gardens were being tilled and a meadow lark singing to the passing breeze.

Timothy W. Shire

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Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006
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