What makes Saskatchewan unique? – 10 Cool Features 🇨🇦

double rainbows over Lake Diefenbaker, rural Saskatchewan
Lake Diefenbaker – Olivia Kulbida

Heading out to the middle of the prairie, this is Saskatchewan’s time. A Canadian province known for flat open terrain and farming, this place definitely has a lot more specialties than milk and bread. Read a quick profile and then enjoy about 10 cool things that make Saskatchewan a unique place.

SASKATCHEWAN: Quick Profile

Canadian Provinces and Territories map, saskatchewan highlighted in red
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road map of Saskatchewan
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Flag of Saskatchewan
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Cities: Regina is the capital; Saskatoon is the biggest city

Location: the middle of the three Prairie provinces in the interior of central Canada, far from any oceans; it borders the U.S. to the south

Read more: about Canada; about Manitoba

Climate: mostly humid continental (humid hot summers and snowy cold winters) with Subarctic climate in the north and some semi-arid steppe (dry plains) features in the southwest; the weather usually comes in extremes with particularly warm summers and intensely cold winters throughout; weather can be very windy with tornadoes and storms being fairly common, although Saskatchewan gets more sunlight than any other province

Environment: mostly prairies and plains in the south with some highlands; mostly boreal forests and taiga to the north with over 100 thousand lakes, Lake Athabasca is the largest; some tundra in the far north and some large areas of sand dunes

Name: it was once a part of Britain’s North West Territories; named after the Saskatchewan River, from the Cree language meaning “swift flowing river”

1. Because of Grasslands National Park

landscape of Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan
Cypress Hills – Erik Lizee / Eriklizee

What is it?:

Grasslands is a national park in southern Saskatchewan near the U.S. border. It preserves lots of prairies and rolling Great Plains landscapes, as well as the range critters.

Places and features:

Wildlife and hiking; Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, with some highlands and collections of dinosaur fossils

2. Because of Moose Jaw

mac the moose statue in Moose Jaw, Canada
Mac the Moose – Lisa

What is that?:

While not a literal Moose Jaw, this place is a small city in rural Saskatchewan. Despite its size, it has a nicely infused natural landscape and some unique experiences throughout.

Places and features:

Tunnels of Moose Jaw, tunnel tours that explore parts of the city’s underground past such as prohibition and Chinese immigration; Wakamow Valley, urban park; the Western Development Museum, exploring how the West was won; Mac the Moose, a giant moose statue; Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa, a luxurious spa with a big geothermal pool

Discover: Tunnels of Moose Jaw tours; Temple Gardens

3. Because of Regina

prince edward building in Regina, Canada
Prince Edward Building – Grahampurse

What is it?:

Well, Regina (Reh-jai-na) is the capital and one of the main cultural hubs in the whole province. The city hosts several events and festivals along with some beautiful urban scenery. It may not be the most populous city in Saskatchewan, but it doesn’t miss by much

wascana lake and park in the wascana centre, near central city Regina
Wascana Lake – Tintaggon

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Places and features:

Saskatchewan Legislative Building; RCMP Heritage Centre, dedicated to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with festivals and service ceremonies; the Government House; MacKenzie Art Gallery; Royal Saskatchewan Museum; Saskatchewan Science Centre; Wascana Centre, a huge urban lake with an even bigger park surrounding the city center and provincial buildings; Hotel Saskatchewan, offers historic interactions with a step back into the prohibition era; Victoria Park

4. Because of Saskatoon

Bessborough Hotel & South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon
Bessborough Hotel & South Saskatchewan River – Kyla Duhamel

What is it?:

You know! Saskatoon is the biggest city, or most populous I should say, in the province. Similar to Regina, it offers lots of cultural and culinary attractions mixed in with a beautiful natural landscape.

Places and features:

Forestry Farm Park & Zoo; Remai Modern, a cooly-designed modern art gallery; Western Development Museum, the largest of these in Saskatchewan; Ukrainian Museum of Canada, documenting Ukrainian heritage in the nation and one of the biggest ethnic minorities of Canada; South Saskatchewan River, a scenic river that runs through town, it shelters riverside green spaces like Rotary Park and Kiwanis Memorial Park; the Delta Bessborough Hotel

5. Because of the Trans-Canada Highway

yellow flowers cultivating in the qu'appelle valley, southeast Saskatchewan
Qu’Appelle Valley – Kjfmartin

What is it?:

This is basically what it sounds like. Within Saskatchewan, the Trans-Canada Highway takes drivers across pretty sweeping landscapes and through some interesting towns and provincial parks.

Places and features:

Qu’Appelle Valley, a stunning valley area with lakes and places like Echo Valley Provincial Park and Fort Qu’Appelle; Moose Mountain Provincial Park, several other towns and parks along the way

6. Because of its Unique Lakes

jackfish lake pier, Saskatchewan
Jackfish Lake – Kyla Duhamel

What are they?:

Saskatchewan, like much of Canada, is known for its many, many lakes. With so many of them, this province still has some that stand out from the rest.

Places and features:

Little Manitou Lake, a lake with a high salt concentration that allows for floating, it also hosts a resort and spa nearby; Lake Diefenbaker, an artificial lake or reservoir with interesting rock formations, cliffs, and a long shoreline; Jackfish Lake, with nearby Cochin Lighthouse (in the middle of the prairies!)

7. Because of Historic Towns & Forts

tipis in Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon
Wanuskewin Heritage Park – Travis Wiens

What are these?:

Historic towns and sites like forts are important places where the past can be preserved. Saskatchewan has a lot of these places that share its extensive history.

Places and features:

Maple Creek, home to a frontier-themed B&B called Ghostown Blues and Fort Walsh, a historic mounted police fort; Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a cultural historic center near Saskatoon documenting over 6,000 years of First Nations heritage; Batoche, a stronghold town during the Métis rebellion, now a museum; Fort Carlton, a Hudson’s Bay fur trade post; the Battlefords, Battleford and North Battleford were important towns for the mounted police during territory days, home to Fort Battleford and, you guessed it, another Western Development Museum

8. Because of Sand Dunes

athabasca sand dunes near lake athabasca, canada
Athabasca Sand Dunes – Snappy Goat

What are those?:

Outsiders might not know that Saskatchewan is home to the largest sand dunes in the world that far north. Some are in the southern region, but the biggest dunes are a drive up.

Places and features:

Great Sand Hills, Canada’s second-largest; Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park, Canada’s largest dunes along the shores of mighty Lake Athabasca

9. Because of its Northern Wilderness

Sunset on the Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park Saskatchewan, Canada
Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park – Viktor Birkus

What is that?:

To the north of this province is a vast area of wilderness. This ranges from dense boreal forests to scattered taiga, from the many lakes to tundra and even sand dunes, as we just saw before.

Places and features:

Clearwater River Provincial Park, with waterfalls, rivers, and rapids; Prince Albert National Park, with controversial conservationist Grey Owl’s Beaver Lodge; Reindeer Lake; Lake Athabasca; Hunt Falls, powerful waterfalls up north

10. Because of its Culture

Saskatchewan is a curious one of the Prairie provinces. It’s smack dab in the middle of them, with its plains and open spaces giving it the feel of a giant field or farm. Sure, the plains played a huge role in the settlement of the region from First Nations down to Eastern European farmers, though English and Anglo-Canadian ID is dominant. And it’s notable how important the mounted police culture has been in this place.

The indigenous presence is comparatively big in Saskatchewan’s largest cities. Their cultures are preserved in elaborate galleries, historic sites, and even universities dedicated to them. Beyond that, these cultural centers help to preserve so well the building blocks of the province’s society. They make it clear where the modern place has come from.

Spikes in temperature and the harsh climate have molded its diverse residents into toughness and resistance. Previously a province that suffered hard economical times, Saskatchewan has been turning business around and making things more interesting for all. Whether passing through on the open highway or stopping to slide on some dunes, this grain basket of Canada has a lot of flavor for any taste!

**Thank you all for coming! I hope you enjoyed learning more about Saskatchewan. Tell us what you like about this place, and shout out if you’re from SK. Feel free to look at other posts on Cult-Surf or related posts in the Earth’s Face section. Take care and be awesome! Peace.

Gone Girl + society [2014] – What’s it say about us?

A small-town girl from the American Midwest disappears suddenly … and her husband is the prime suspect. Well, actually she’s a grown woman, but you get my point. This is the main plot of this post’s subject, Gone Girl. It was a book by Gillian Flynn that turned into a popular movie. It’s directed by David Fincher (for the movie nerds out there) and was nominated for a lot of awards too. By the way, this is part of a series where we (lightly) analyze English-language movies. If you like that sort of thing, there are more posts like this here.

The book cover of Gone Girl, novel by Gillian Flynn

We’ll look at what the movie has to say about American society at large, as well as some general themes of the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, there might be some spoilers, I can’t make any promises. You can find it on platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix, though it depends on your country or region. The trailer is up top in case you want to refresh your memory or check it out for the first time.

Movie Setting

What does the movie, Gone Girl, have to say about American culture or society? For starters, let’s look at where it’s set. The movie takes place mostly in a fictional town in northeast Missouri. It’s not far from the Mississippi River which forms the border with Illinois. Why is that important? Well, Missouri is a state smack in the middle of the USA. Southern Missouri is a lot more like the South in terms of culture and other ways, while the north is a bit more like the Midwest. Even being in the same country (in this case the same state), being in the Midwest shows a greater lean towards mainstream, heartland American values and identity. You can kind of see the difference in accents, where some people have stronger “rural” or Southern accents where others have a more typical American accent. I’ll explain a bit later.

A map showing the course of the Mississippi River in North America, the setting of Gone Girl
course of the Mississippi River – By Mulad at English Wikipedia

The Mississippi River is the longest, most iconic river in the country. We see big homes with green lawns, quiet streets with cul-de-sacs, and small brick-stone towns. This is all typical of an American city suburb. There are also some scenes that describe what the weather is like in much of the Midwest during the summer. You have people searching for Amy (the gone “girl”) in green fields full of bugs and sweating under the sticky, humid air. There are some scenes by the river or poolside that show us how hot it is. I don’t remember if there is a winter scene, but I feel like there was. Either way, the Midwest also gets extremely cold in the winter months.

Gone Girl is set in modern times, which is important for this next section.

The Media

Maybe you haven’t noticed lately, but the media, especially social and mass media, have been impacting lots of people’s behaviors. From liking photos to deciding whether or not to wear a mask, these platforms have a bigger impression on most of us than we might think. The news especially has a way of leading us into believing what the studio thinks. If they don’t think anything, they are good at making the situation a lot more dramatic than it is. Even before Covid (I know, feels like forever), lots of people were suspicious of mass media and the news. They have a habit of accentuating the bad stuff and pushing people to be more scared than they need to. I’m sure this happens almost everywhere, but Americans have a long history of being suspicious of the government and any other entity that has too much power.

A large crowd of protestors walking through the city streets, representing the retaliation against Nick in Gone Girl
the town coming after Nick – by Alex Radelich, Unsplash

Still, this precaution doesn’t keep most of the town along with some of the investigators from believing that Nick (Ben Affleck’s character) really killed his wife. The news repeats this accusation and fires up conflict at a time when Nick’s involvement isn’t really suspected. This plays on our society’s recent growth in protecting women’s rights and protecting women in at-risk situations like domestic violence. Although this is a very real problem across the globe, the story shows how some women take advantage of this movement toward equality. There are those who intentionally try to harm the image of a man. There have been lots of scandals in recent years of women doing exactly this, as a matter of fact.

The fact that the community starts to turn against Nick after seeing the news sheds light on their innocence. There is a general perception that people from the city are sinners and those from the country are saints. That’s meant figuratively, but in Gone Girl, you can see how much of the community was influenced by the news. They were manipulated into the version of the story that would get more views, higher ratings. Another example of this is one of Amy’s (Rosamund Pike’s character) friends who jogs regularly and talks with her. Amy recognizes her innocence and tricks the woman into trusting her, steadily turning the woman against Nick. These people live a more relaxed, quiet, and routine suburban life. They don’t come across many bizarre situations like this very often. In the end, they don’t know what to believe or what to do about it.

Community

A rural town in the country with green hills and forests in the background, a yellow school bus running down the main road, a community like in the movie Gone Girl
small Midwestern community – by Louise Tollisen, Unsplash

Besides them turning against Nick, we also see how tight-knit this community is. This is a common feature in small towns across the country. People really look after each other and talk with one another when passing on the street, which isn’t as common in big cities. Other themes about the characters’ behaviors are the unhappy couple trying to fake a perfect marriage by putting up a false face of unity. Amy is robbed by a traveling couple with guns. This sheds light on the somewhat loose gun laws in certain states and the hardships many people in rural America face. This can go to the point of committing serious crimes on one another. This touches on gun culture being stronger in the American interior too. Missouri actually has a fairly high crime rate and lots of underprivileged areas. This reality is shown in a few scenes too.

Crime & Violence

This is essentially a crime-novel-turned-crime-movie. A cocky big-shot lawyer, constant snooping by the police, and investigators being quick to decide what happened before the case is closed; these are all common tropes in the crime genre. If you watch CSI or Law & Order, you know exactly what I mean. One thing that’s very apparent, especially near the end of the movie, is the high level of violence and bloodshed. Gone Girl isn’t really a violent movie, but it has a big bloody moment towards the end.

This touches on how common violence is in American moviemaking. I don’t want to say that we all love blood and guts (some do), but from our movies, you’d think so! There is also the theme of a couple staying together “for the baby,” which Amy sneakily tricks Nick into having. She uses her pregnancy in the end to trap Nick into their marriage. This is another note on the manipulation some women perform over men in their complicated relationships. To be fair, she manipulates pretty much everybody in this movie.

A small light sky blue woodshed with a small garden and trees in the background, a symbol of the woodshed in Gone Girl
a creepy woodshed – by James Frid, Pexels.com

The “Woodshed”

Besides small-town family values, heartland America identity, and rural/suburban naivety, there’s one last theme that’s really interesting. If you want, you can read more about this here. The woodshed is where Amy leaves her secrets, and it’s where Nick eventually finds out what’s happening. The woodshed represents a common part of many American homes where a family might store things they don’t use often. It can also be an unexpected symbol for how a figurative “mess” builds up during a relationship, then gets pushed deeper into the “shed.” There’s a related phrase in English: “come out of the woodwork.” This means that something comes out of hiding and into the light from an unexpected place. Basically, it becomes clearer. This seems like a funny way to show this idea. The truth comes out of the actual woodwork, or rather, the woodshed.

Last Thoughts

That’s all, everybody. I hope you enjoyed this look at Gone Girl and some of its themes, meanings, and cultural insights. It’s a story about relationship issues, lies, manipulation, and a whole lot of media interference. Even though Nick cheated on his wife, Amy did a lot more than expose him for it. She kind of ruined his life, not to mention forcing him to keep a marriage he was all but done with. This movie is reminiscent of a TV crime series, and it shows us why those programs can be addicting. Some of the most outrageous and deviant crimes happen out in the country where it seems like no one is watching. But boy, did we watch this one!

Please comment if you agree or disagree with parts of this post. What other ways does Gone Girl touch on true or stereotypical parts of American society? What about society in another country? Share your thoughts, my wonderful reader! And take care out there.