Canada is not filled with Bullwinkles and Do-Rights

For the record, Canada is falsely depicted in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Don’t get me wrong, that is a GREAT bit of animation and humor. The Dudley Do-Right is a great hero in spite of his bumbling efforts. Nor should you believe the depiction of Mounties from the Canada Pavillion in EPCOT. The RCMP are not rescuing helpless maidens from train tracks. Don’t get me wrong, the WOULD rescue one but the maidens here in Canada are brilliant, strong and independent women – at least the few million ones I personally know. I know for a fact the RCMP are smart, strong, professional and I am thankful every day they protect us.

For those of you not in the know, RCMP stands for Royal Canadian Mounted police. They only wear their Red Serge on special occasions. You will not see them riding around on horse back in their dress uniform any old day. It is only on special occasions, like if the Queen comes to tea or if a member gets married (which I am proud to say I will witness this September!)

During my Big Adventure to Saskatchewan, I had the privilege to visit the RCMP Heritage Centre. Regina is home to the RCMP training facility. I toured it and I haven’t had the same surge in pride since I went to Vimy Ridge in France.

I went with ChatterBox and Godmother – not Fairy Godmother, she is different. It happened to be Graduation Day for the latest Cadets. They were walking around in their dress uniform showing their families where they trained for the last 6 months with their Regiment. You could see the pride on the parents faces. This is a tremendous deal. The RCMP have a long and honoured tradition here in Canada, and now those graduates will be privilege to join those who had valiant careers before them.

While we were in the Center itself, Chatterbox went to solve some forensic mysteries – and did. While I was watching her examine bullet markings I had a real sense that this may be the start of something huge for her. I had a flash-forward moment of her part of the civilian forces in a forensic lab somewhere in the future. She could do worse, the RCMP are world renowned for their blood spatter identification and solve mysteries for other police departments world-wide. Not too shabby for a country of 34 million.

We took the tour of the barracks and training facilities because, who are we kidding, it all started there 139 years ago. Canada is 145, so what the heck did we do without them for 6 years? Canada was in chaos I tell you, CHAOS!

The highlight for me – other than  fire hydrant #11 ( said to my Godmother, the tour was worth the price of admission to Saskatchewan and there it was #11 agreeing with me) standing in front of the parade square at the RCMP memorial when a new Graduate in her long skirt and surge walked by the memorial and saluted. THAT was a powerful moment. Pride swelled within me knowing that Respect is still a value upheld by Canadians.

Although you can find Squirrel and Moose Street in Banff, Alberta – it is not anywhere in the RCMP HC. We saw Street signs that were named for fallen members. On the sign was their regiment number. In 139 years, 222 RCMP members have fallen in the line of duty. There were parts of the training facility civilians did not have access to. Rumors are to be had, and out of privacy and respect I will not share what is beyond the walls in the name of training. Let’s just say the amount of intense training that occurs during the 6 month time where 32 cadets live, eat, sleep and study in the same room every minute of the day leaves me safe and secure in their ability. The RCMP would be considered elite police force. Pride does not even begin to express the feelings that were conjured up while seeing these graduates.

Next time you drive west to visit the Rockies, or East to visit the Hockey hall of Fame, stop in Regina to visit this amazing place of history and honour.





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The Edmonton Tourist’s Really Big Adventure

Somewhere around spring time, ChatterBox asked me how come we never go East. In Canada that typically means Ontario. “Down East” means Toronto. The Maritimes – the East Coastal Region of Canada, which is truly “East” are never called anything but The Maritimes. I live “Out west’ which is funny because British Columbia is west of Alberta. They are called BC interior or west coast. Odd I know by that is how things work around here. So when I said to ChatterBox “East is too far to drive and I don’t want to go there again. I would LOVE to go to the Maritimes but that is some serious cash for flights. Maybe after our Eastern European trip.”

“No Mom, East to Saskatchewan. We never go to Saskatchewan.”

True, we never go for several reasons:

  1. It’s flat – and I mean flat – Flat Stanley flat.
  2. It’s filled with Rider fans – not cool when you are an Eskimo fan.
  3. They don’t have a Hockey Team. They have jr. teams – and it is some great hockey – but…no NHL
  4. It is cold in the winter and HOT in the summer. There is no shade in Saskatchewan that a farmer didn’t plant himself.
  5. Did I mention flat?

My family came from Saskatchewan. My Dad born was born in Regina and he always said, “What the hell do you want to go to Saskatchewan for?” I figured he would know, he was born here. But ChatterBox wanted to go. I did a mother/son trip last year and maybe it was time to do a mother/daughter trip this year. So I called my Godmother – not “fairy godmother” she is a different person – and asked if we could come to Regina for an extended weekend.

She said OF COURSE! I believe it is in the standard issue Godmother handbook that she can’t refuse me. So we made plans to go to Regina, Saskatchewan, capital city of said province. I always like to think “Go big or go home”.

To make this trip more exciting, (because really – do you remember what my dad said?) We decided to plan a Big adventure. We were inspired by this: Warning * this is hysterical and don’t be drinking coffee while watching. Hang in there until 1:47

With this in mind, we planned a trip of BIG THINGS. If nothing else, it would be fun. So off we went on our really Big Adventure!

First stop, Mundare Alberta. Home of Stawnichy’s garlic sausage. Quite frankly, the best you will ever eat. It is now just called “Mundare Ukrainian Sausage” by people in the “know”.

We laughed like 12 year old boys. Really, who thought THIS would be a good idea? We were off to a great start. 9:00 and we had the giggles. Next stop Vegerville, Alberta home of the giant pysanka.

A Pysanka is an Easter Egg decorated with layered dye. They have it down to an art form. Various symbols on the egg represent the symbols of Easter and the Ukrainian Culture. They are quite beautiful and labor intensive.

I was expecting bigger, but it was nifty. We passed by some bales of hay and one was wrapped in a Big Rock Beer lable. That was big but we couldn’t stop on the highway. Then we saw a farm sign that said Beef Jerky for sale and it was surrounded by cows. Obviously the jerky is fresh – I wasn’t going to wait for it though. I was disappointed, but then I thought back to Mundare and once again was happy.

Now it was time (11:11 am to be exact – 11 was very prominent on this trip. So prominent that Chatterbox was beginning to think it was creepy) to head to Lloydminster, Home of the Alberta/Saskatchewan Border. It is in a town? City? All we wanted was a Tim Hortons, did we find one? Eventually but seriously – what kind of town makes you SEARCH for a Tim Hortons? How very unCanadian. While driving thru the centre of town we saw these giant red markers pop out of the pavement. We parked at Arby’s and went to have a closer look.

There was an entire street of these things incase you did know you were about to cross into another province.

While we were standing astride of the border one foot in each province. We noticed this:

The dude couldn’t move the boot before spraying for road work? Seriously? Is that another union workers job to move debris?

Moving east we planned to eat lunch in The Battlefords somewhere overlooking the North Saskatchewan river that runs through Downtown Edmonton – thought it would be cool to see the river somewhere other than the head waters in the rocky mountains. There was not a rest stop insight. We got lost in the middle of Nowheresville, Saskatchewan – yet had cell service for the first time since leaving Edmonton. The road sign said “MountainView Road”. We looked around and thought “Are you freakin’ kidding me? Where is the Mountain?” We are born and raised a couple of hours from the Rocky Mountains, some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in the world. I am pretty confident I could recognize a mountain if I saw one. This is not a mountain:

But it IS the North Saskatchewan River that COMES from a glacier in the mountains, but not a mountain. It’s barely a valley. However, it was still beautiful.

ChatterBox noticed that this place could have been where mole babies are buried. HUH? It was a reference to Fringe, and after the long and very frightening explanation, I am talking to Chatterbox’s papa about never letter her watch that show again…yikes.

We drove all the way to Saskatoon thinking we would stop and shop or poke around to see this “city” on the prairies. We googled a shopping center and figured we would go there. It was on 1 Avenue. We went to what we thought was 1 Ave and it was I Ave. The west has alphabet avenues and the east has number avenue. WHO DOES THIS? 1 & I look too similar – how do people find their way around? We gave up. We decided to go find the worlds largest Postage Stamp, in Humbolt. My grandfather came from there and it was about 1 1/2 hours from Saskatoon. It was 3, so we figured sounds good to us. We found the right road, asked dead great grandpa to ead the way. For some reason, all the roads I got on would not let me got straight. This is SASKATCHEWAN where STRAIGHT was invented. We kept having to turn and each time ended up on Hwy 11. (again with the 11) Hwy 11 leads to Regina. Obviously Grandpa didn’t want us to go to Humbolt. Follow the 11 Tourist, was what he kept saying (which is ODD because my gramps always bragged about the awesomeness of Humbolt and thought we should go and see the picture of his mom in the museum.) We gave up. Clearly we needed to get to Regina on the 11.

We past a handful of stores that all had 11 somewhere in the name and ChatterBox was starting to be freaked out. Obviously we were meant to be going this way, and that is when I saw it. The most beautiful Big Thing in my life,

The cup was bigger than my car. It was a joy to behold. Apparently in Davidson, Saskatchewan coffee is an important part of daily living. I found my roots.

Number 11 hwy is also known as the Louis Riel Trail. All along the was are giant Metis men with a Red river cart.

Okay, now it was 4:11 – obviously someone was telling me I needed get rolling (quit with the nagging already dead grandpa).

The further south we drove the flatter Saskatchewan got. ChatterBox suggested that Canada need to put a pleet into Saskatchewan so we could time warp over it. Obviously J.J. Abrams has a big influence in her life.

We see a sign that said “Welcome to Regina” except Regina was missing. This is the CAPITAL CITY OF SASKATCHEWAN and there was not a skyline of buildings to see. What kind of crazy voodoo was this place? It was so flat that I could see Edmonton to my right, Toronto to my left and and if you squint you could see dolphins frolicking in the gulf of mexico for crying out loud. Where was Regina? Didn’t matter, we had arrived! 6:11 by the time we found the A&W where ChatterBox needed a veggy burger and a rootbeer. Next stop, my GodMum’s house. I hadn’t spent any significant with her since I was young. We stayed awake while Chatterbox slept, drinking a REALLY BIG bottle of wine. It was lovely. We made plans to head to go to Coner Gas in Rouleau the next day – but that is it’s own story – and Moosejaw the following day.

Moosejaw, home of the Snowbirds (The Canadian Airforce Precision Flying team) Mac the Moose and The famous Tunnels of Moosejaw. Did you know Al Scarface Capone Had his hooch made there? Then he would bootleg it to Chicago. Me neither, it was cool. Moosejaw was a charming city.

The city market was happening on main street – not a farmers market like I expected in Farm Country but quaint none the less.

I stepped into a shoe store and tried on my first pair of Vibrams

These puppies were very comfy – I may buy some once I get home to the land of no Provincial Sales Tax.

Then I saw some brand new goloshes, overshoes and rubbers. I haven’t seen these since I was a kid and my dad and grandfather wore them to work in the winter to save their dress shoes.

On the Prairie, rubbers mean a whole different thing. I couldn’t believe this blast from the past. It felt like I had set my Delorian for 1974.

My really Big Adventure isn’t quite over, off to the home of the RCMP. I am sure I’ll see more Big Things…I’ll keep you posted.