Days Gone By

Boom or gloom?  A drive through the back country roads and small towns in Saskatchewan, Canada, would suggest that life here is far from booming, which is in stark contrast to media reports of a growing economy with potash mines opening up in several places and immigration from provinces like Alberta and British Columbia picking up at an increasing rate.  What I hear on the radio is one thing, but what I see with my own eyes is something completely different.

Wherever I drive, there are abandoned farm houses, tilting metal silos and rusty obsolete farm equipment lying in the tall untouched prairie grass that is the backdrop of many yard sites.  Fields of grain or grazing cattle replace the driveways and private family backyards which once brought life to the land.

Most of the farmland is still being worked primarily with wheat, canola, barley, and lentils, and of course, cattle, but the trend is for families to now enjoy the benefits of an urban lifestyle in cities like Saskatoon and Regina with owners driving daily to the farm to look after the animals and crops.  As a result, what were once beautiful old homesteads and well-maintained barns are now crumbling reminders of days gone by.

I was told by an official from one Regional Municipality that the number of working farms in his south central district alone decreased from 300 to a mere 90 in the last five to ten years.  Evidence of a diminishing country way of life can easily be seen in the small towns and villages that dot the countryside along the highways of Saskatchewan.

On some farm acreages, the only reminders of another way of life are the antiquated wooden grain elevators that still stand proudly but alone in the fields.

One prominent reminder of days gone by is the number of antique cars and trucks that can be seen lining the grassy fields and dilapidated barns.   People in this province have an obvious fascination with and respect for this part of their heritage.

One local farmer told me “To wreck an old car is the same as wrecking an old farmhouse – there’s just too much history to destroy and then it’s gone forever.”  There are numerous antique car shows, auctions and car dealers that buy and sell these old relics and actually make a living doing it.  Most of the cars and trucks here in Saskatchewan get refurbished and recycled until sometime down the road these clunkers reach their final resting place in a forgotten prairie burial ground.

But with all the gloominess aside, there leaves only this.

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8 Responses to Days Gone By

  1. Shanomi says:

    Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments on “Days Gone By”. I apologize for this delayed genetic response but I’m having difficulty accessing the internet where I am parked with my RV. I’m looking into internet options. Please be patient with my replies and email responses. I really appreciate all of your great feedback. Seems living full time in an RV sometimes has its drawbacks. And PS – please don’t worry about me if there is no blog activity on my part for a few days. Blessings to all.

    • wind dancer says:

      Another one of your great writings. I do love to read them and I have forgotten how great they are beings that I have drifted away from them. This ranch life does keep me busy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful shots of what will become history. Life as we knew it is changing all across Canada, not just on the prairies. I predict we will start up the little farms across the land and do an end run around Monsanto. They did no favours for the wheat crops either, all have been genetically modified and we are no longer eating the wheat products of the ’50’s and ’60’s. Time to rise up!!

  3. Peg Widdes says:

    Beautiful/sad pictures from your mind’s eye. Good to know that you are continuing your amazing adventure and sharing with friends the good/the bad/the ugly along the way.
    Safe journey.

  4. Bob & Carole says:

    Great to hear from you ! Enjoy reading your commentary a wonderful descriptive photography.
    Take care in the wild and unpredictable weather.

    Bob & Carole

  5. Margaret says:

    So happy to read that you are ‘on the road’ and well – I was worried when ‘we’ hadn’t heard from you in quite a while – the disturbing weather patterns brought to mind your travels –

    your pictures and descriptive commentary is very, very, interesting – I see turning a problem into an opportunity – for ‘hollywood’ -or profit driven car dealers, to purchase all the antique cars for the movie production world, etc., the 50’s are groovey again –

    the farmland and once proud homes, of very hard working people, should give an opportunity to architect students to study, history buffs, the list can go on – we, collectively need creative minds to work with all three levels of our grid – for the mutual purpose of honouring the farm history-to grow our food locally – to protect our very survival!

    WOW sleep well – happy to know that you are a-ok

  6. Anonymous says:

    A dying culture of what was once thriving farming communities. I guess the word thriving might not be a word the farmers would use because I am sure they had some very difficult times but it is their history. One not easily forgotten when families have lived off the land for generations. Very sad. Life as our parents knew it in any province just does not exist any more.

  7. Bev Campbell says:

    Hi – being from a prairie farm there is another aspect of the grain farming that adds to the “gloom” – all those canola fields are from Monsanto GMO seeds and the wheat is now all hybridized – not at all like the wheat grown not so many years ago.
    So those flowing fields of grain are a huge problem in many ways. This is something I wrestle with constantly. Traditional farmers (like my 4th generation farm family) have all been brought into line and have to tow that “Monsanto” line. I will not follow in this vein and will make some hard decisions that will go against their “grain”. Not easy being the dissenter in a rural community.

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