Saskatchewan: Background information when reading Canada

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Canada

by Richard Ford

Canada by Richard Ford
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  • First Published:
    May 2012, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Beyond the Book:
Saskatchewan

Print Review

The vast prairies of Saskatchewan, where one can easily be "unimaginably bored" are the perfect setting for Richard Ford's Canada. Bordering Montana and North Dakota, it is one of two Canadian provinces that is completely landlocked (Alberta is the other one) and has no geographical features distinguishing its boundaries. It is over 250,000 square miles (over 650,000 square kilometers) - almost the size of Texas. The province's name has its origins in the Plains Indian word, kisiskatchewan, meaning "the river that flows swiftly"; a reference to the Saskatchewan River.

Interestingly, the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan province is named after the saskatoon berry, which is often used by the province's aboriginal people in making pemmican. Pemmican is a kind of meat dish made with fat drippings and protein that uses saskatoon or other berries as preservatives and to add flavor. The dehydrated version is considered a good snack to have on long hikes.

map of Saskatchewan South Saskatchewan River saskatoon berries

Many Canadians think "wheat" when they think of Saskatchewan - the vast, undulating prairies are perfect for growing all sorts of grains and cereals (barley, rye, oats), oilseeds (flax, canola, mustard), and pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas, peas). In fact, agriculture is one of the primary economic vehicles in the province - it grows 54% of Canada's wheat, and according to the Government of Saskatchewan, it contains 44% of Canada's total cultivated farmland.

The province's most famous residents might well be The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), originally known as the North West Mounted Police. The Mounties have their training academy in the city of Regina, Saskatchewan's capital, and the academy churns out over 1,000 new graduates each year.

canola flower field in Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian goose

The prairie landscape and woods attract millions of geese and other waterfowl every year - which makes Saskatchewan a prime spot for hunting waterfowl. In Canada, Dell works as an assistant for American tourists who visit during hunting season in early fall. Guided game-hunting excursions are quite common in Saskatchewan and attract many out-of-towners. According to the tourism board, "Permission to hunt on private land must be obtained in the southern portion of the province. Saskatchewan has several parcels of land that have been purchased for hunting by the government and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation."

Did you know? Saskatchewan has a town called "Love" which holds an annual "love" festival as part of its Valentine Winter Festival. Events include sawing, nail driving, hatchet throwing, pillow fighting, arm wrestling and a power saw competition!

Saskatchewan River image by Dean Shareski
Saskatoon berries image by Meggar
Canola field image by Nas2
RCMP officer image by Robert Thivierge
Canadian goose image by Daniel D'Auria

Article by Poornima Apte

This article was originally published in May 2012, and has been updated for the January 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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