Friday, 29 June 2012

On the Prairies, English gentlemen

Between the iPhone getting confused by the proximity of the Manitoba border (more on that later) and general sloth, I got off to a late start today. However, my goal for today was Redvers which wasn't that far. In fact, I deliberately made decisions to increase the journey time.

The first of these was to look up the Cannigton Manor Historic Provincial Park. Cannington Manor was set up in the 1880s to be a place where young, English gentlemen would learn how to farm the Canadian West in genteel conditions. Almost predictably, these remittance men spent more time socializing than learning about farming. I'd read about the place in a book about Saskatchewan Alice had lent me. I had envisioned the place as an example of Victorian grandeur on the Prairies. The first place on the list of places seemed to confirm the notion. The Humphrey/Hewlett house seemed to confirm my opinion. While I couldn't enter, the floor plans of the three story structure included at darkroom!

However, when I got to the town site and was able to enter one of the structures, I was disabused of my notions. It was a reproduction of one of the houses that one of the few of the gentlemen who stayed that did it. It consisted of a two story structure which had no internal divisions! The original had been in use until the 1960s with no electricity! Part of me wonders what sin the man had committed in England that he wore such a hair shirt for the rest of his life.

My conclusion was that the young men from England might have spent a lot of time socializing, fox hunting, etc. but that they lived in relatively rustic conditions. It puts a different spin on things.

The place also made me appreciate just how rich my great grandfather had been in comparison. Robin Hill was much more luxurious than these tiny shacks, yet it was built only thirty or so years later. It also had the advantage of a railway nearby and motor transport, two things denied Cannington Manor.

After leaving the park, I headed South to my old friend Highway 13 and the village of Manor (which was connected to Cannington Manor). It lacked an open restaurant so I opted to head West for 13 km to Carlyle which I knew had a restaurant for lunch. This decision was influenced by the fact that otherwise the day would be quite short, as Redvers was only 31 kms to the East of Manor on Hwy 13.

Anyway, tonight is my last night in Saskatchewan. I get to Manitoba and Souris tomorrow. As someone who is fluent French, I tend to pronounce "Souris" as "soo-ree". However, the Saskatchewaners seem to say "soo-rees". I don't know who is correct.

No comments: