Lafleche Centennial, 100 Years of Awesome

June 29, 2013
Lafleche sunset panorama
I’ve been at the Lafleche 100 celebration on Canada Day long weekend. There were few people my age who I knew, and many of the oldest generation who I grew up with has passed away in the past decades. Cliff Day, who I remember from even the 1980s, passed away in May of this year. Homecomings can be like that, reminded of how everything has changed from my perspective. It’s still been worth going, and I’m headed back on Sunday morning.

Lafleche hockey rink centennial panorama

I arrived with Dad, as the 11am parade was winding down. On the side street, where some WWII veterans in golf carts had finished driving through the parade, I heard one exclaim to the other, “We made it.”

Lafleche Centennial

The lady at the registration desk recognized Saskboy when I put it on my name-tag. She didn’t remember what she’d read, but recalled it upset her.

I’m off to bed now, and I’ll pick this blog up tomorrow.

June 30
Got roped into going to church with my parents, before the pancake breakfast. The breakfast was good, it was self-serve, so I got enough to eat. Then I helped a Radio-Canada journalist get some photos and interviews he needed.

Lafleche Centennial

Lafleche Centennial

Lafleche Centennial

Dark Sky Preserve at Wood Mountain

Dark Sky Preserve Sunset

I found a new way to appreciate my home town through the eyes of astronomers this weekend. Also, I used the astronomers’ telescopes, which is a great way to look from their perspective on the universe. Wood Mountain is the gateway to the East Block of the Grasslands National Park which is designated as a Dark Sky Preserve. The Park and the RASC Regina branch had Peter McMahon from SkyNews Magazine come out to check out the park and give a presentation.
Dark Sky Preserve

As the presentation ended, uncommon noctilucent clouds lit up on the northern horizon, illuminated by the set Sun.

Noctilucent Clouds at Dark Sky Preserve

RASC had people from Regina, Saskatoon, and even Port Hope, ON attending the star party.

As everyone was eagerly photographing the clouds, I saw a satellite zooming up from the west, and it was soon confirmed to be the International Space Station. It made another pass an hour and a half later.

Dark Sky Preserve
I lost count how many satellites I saw. There was a binary pair, someone explained were US Military. There was an Iridium, known for its magnificent flare overhead. And I saw a meteor too.


The skies stayed perfectly clear for the next two hours, then some clouds and fog rolled in just before it started to rain around 2am Sunday morning.

If the rain on the tent hadn’t been so noisy, then these Leopard frogs would have been the noisiest background noise.
Leopard Frog

Meadowlarks sing very loudly and distinctively. I enjoy imitating their tweeting with a whistle.

I’ll be going on next year’s Dark Sky Preserve tour of southern Saskatchewan, that’s for sure! The weather looked rainy from Regina, but it cleared up as soon as Saturday afternoon hit in the Park. The campers who tried Friday night too, ended up a little rained on, near Val Marie. You never know what the weather will hold until that hour hits.

Deer-Tour Around Saskatchewan

Glentworth, SK

Saturday’s road trip through the mist and fog yielded me the best wildlife photos I’ve ever had the privilege of shooting. Some photos from the earlier part of the trip I posted on Sunday morning.

RM Waverley

Unsafe Water

Glentworth, Saskatchewan

Glentworth, Saskatchewan
-Glentworth, SK

Less than a few kms north of Glentworth, just turning toward the highway headed for Lafleche, we saw two herds on different sides of the road. They waited patiently as the humans in the car took many, many photos.

Glentworth, SK
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Mini Solar Tour in the Fog of Wood Mountain and Glentworth

I went on a road trip Saturday with my friend Adam K., down to my parents’ place, and his grandparents’ farm. On the way around southern Saskatchewan, we saw close to 150 deer and antelope, a snowy owl, a dozen hawks, a handful of Canada Geese, smaller birds, two dead raccoons, and the final resting place of four children who passed away in 1919 (Spanish Flu maybe?).
Ukrainian Catholic Church

To Moose Jaw
The road into Regina was ice, and the road to Moose Jaw was quite a bit better, but still partly covered in a thick layer of ice. There was a semi on the eastbound highway that had done a 180, and blew open its trailer door, strewing boxes across the ditch at Belle Plaine.

We filled up in Moose Jaw, then ate at the Steakhouse in Assiniboia (we had waffles). The GPS kept trying to convince us to turn off the paved road instead of going to Limerick. We went to Limerick, I took a couple photos, and on through flooded Flintof and dry Wood Mountain we continued. Many deer were along the way, and the misting rain continued through the trip after Moose Jaw’s southern hills.
Flintoft turn

Hawk landing
- A hawk about to land

After second lunch we strolled around the various energy and heating systems my parents had installed for their home.
Solar Hot water panel mount

Solar PV

Convincing SaskPower that a generator ring/link was a good idea for a Saskatchewan power meter, took some convincing. Fortunately Dad is persistent.

Wood Mountain elevator

Ukrainian Catholic Church
- 1925 built Ukrainian Catholic near Glentworth, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church

More photos next time of the animals who made this print:
Deer tracks

Transportation: Where to go, and how to get there in #YQR

Most of my speech as heard in the video above, and posted to my Regina politics blog:

I’m very pleased to have been asked to speak at Campion College about transportation issues. I got my Computer Science – co-op degree from here a decade ago, and I never imagined at the time that I’d wind up the President of a different sort of “co-op”, the Regina Car Share Co-operative. At the time, I had no idea that “car sharing” was even a thing. I’d heard of car pooling of course, but they are different. It wasn’t until I returned to work at the UofR, that I got an email about a group of people holding a pot luck supper in Regina to discuss forming a “car share”, and I thought that sounded like maybe a good way to use a car without the unpleasantries of maintaining one. A few years later, I was chosen to help guide a remarkable group of volunteers who make organized car sharing possible in our city, as it is in almost every other major Canadian and American city today.

Why am I interested in transportation? Well, I’m interested in nearly everything, but where curiosity meets reality is on the streets. Nearly everyone in the world has a daily need to move about the farm, town, or city they live at, and so modes of transportation are essential to how and where we live. If transportation isn’t timely or fun, people don’t enjoy where they live as much as they should. I don’t think car repair is fun, and feel dealing with SGI is about the worst thing that could administratively happen to someone (short of being charged with a crime). So I’ve set out to make transportation both timely and fun for myself, and it just so happens that I need to make it that way for the people around me too, in order to be successful.

Another big reason I’m interested in transportation improvement, is that it’s a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. These are not small, or easy problems to solve, but our little daily actions collectively point our society in either the right or wrong direction. Right now, Regina is unquestionably pointed in the wrong direction, and among our collective actions pointing us there is how we get around every day. Since public talks are always more fun with interaction (I think so anyway, because otherwise I tend to get sleepy especially if the speaker has a mono-tone voice like mine,): How many people got to University today by themselves in a motor vehicle? How many car pooled? How many took the bus? How many biked or walked?
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Winter in Saskatchewan

When it’s too cold to explain, photos will have to do.
Wood Mountain December Sunset

Christmas Tree

Deer at Wood Mountain

Sundog at Lakenheath, SK

I don’t go to church anymore, and didn’t want to long before I stopped going. This year I was invited to two different Christmas church services, and ended up going to neither. When I do go, it’s out of respect for my family’s traditions, and end up socializing with people I would otherwise not see day-to-day. Most of the time I cannot bring myself to support what I feel is such a waste of time, money, and effort to support religious institutions that do far less good than they promise and would have us believe they do.

The new Nigerian priest for the part of southern Sask. where my parents live, became lost when trying to drive to church in Glentworth on Sunday. He wound up in a town about 30 minutes away, then called for directions and arrived about an hour late. There was a fresh coat of snow everywhere, the road included, so it must have been a bit of an ordeal to go from +30 to -20 in the span of a month, and become lost where the closest farmyard can be 15km from any given point on the road. He was oriented for Christmas Eve evening service at least. The roads have not been kind to priests in the past year; Father Carrigan, a priest that served Wood Mountain and Lafleche, passed away from a highway collision.

Mrs. Klein

2003 Grandma 150-5065_IMG
One of the oddest things about death is that there’s no way to reach that person by their usual phone number. We can call people in Antarctica, in space, in Tehran, on the toilet, or flying through the air. We can’t call people on the phone after they are passed on, however. It’s just another unfortunate, gut-wrenching reality when it comes to death. The feeling of being apart when they aren’t here, that used to be resolved through phoning, just wasn’t solved by Bell and probably never will be by anyone else.

My Grandma, who was 93, passed away today after a difficult week for her. I visited her yesterday, after medical people helped to stabilize her, and she was able to have simple conversations. She had trouble eating yesterday, was literally tired of being old and said as much with, “I’m too old for this.” Her body agreed with her, the following day. She was expertly cared for, and as comfortable as possible in her final years.

Life isn’t easy not being able to see very much, and she had to give up playing card games on the computer, and emailing people (which she started doing in the mid-90s on a Compaq 8086 then IBM 486 my Dad and I helped set up for her and Grandpa). Macular degeneration can take a hike, by the way. She had to move out of her house many years ago, and was getting by at the lodge in Lafleche for a while, walking downtown to get her mail even. This past year she’d had some small strokes and lost some of her short term memory, and had to move to the Foyer in Gravelbourg. Her mother had lived there for a time in the early 1970s.

I’m thinking about a lot right now, obviously. There’s a lot to consider. While I’m sad, I’m also trying to remember that my Grandma had a good, long life that can be celebrated, with plenty of family to remember her fondly. My Grandpa’s death was sudden and not really expected, and this death is sort of the exact opposite. There’s still a numb feeling, having heard the news, and knowing it will hurt as I contemplate everything.

Stories she’s told me stick out right now, and I feel I have to write them down again so I won’t lose them. Like how her parents met (re)hanging laundry; our family’s connection to Napoleon; how her older siblings were told she blew in on the cold February wind. Or how I may have had a different name if she hadn’t been in Africa while I was born, since I was born 100 years after her father’s birthday. She’d have suggested my parents choose my Great-Grandfather’s name, although my Mum wasn’t too keen on that option it turned out anyway.

So now I just have memories of my Grandma. How she enjoyed gardening; our trips to the casino; her vegetable barley soup; how she liked to provide ice cream for her grand kids, and how I got to return the favour by delivering some to her in the Foyer in August. She had a life well lived so it’s better to celebrate her long, fulfilled life than to mourn her death.

ADDED: Online condolences.
Here’s a bit more about being blown in on the wind.


While at the Hoover Dam, we were told there were no tours available. We later found out it was not a technical issue and there was a VIP in a limo that had gone by while we were in the visitor centre. President Obama was visiting, on his way to the debate in Colorado.

We then got a bad tip that the Grand Canyon was only two hours away, but in a small bar in Chloride we found out the closest point was a lame bus tour that doesn’t allow photos, so we salvaged the excursion by continuing to Wilson where we found a cheap motel and continued to the Canyon in morning daylight.

Photos of Gravelbourg, Fir Mountain, and Wood Mountain

Here’s a sampling of why you’d want to take a drive south of Moose Jaw sometime.
I left Wood Mountain on Sunday afternoon
Wood Mountain

Drove by Fir Mountain not too long later.
Fir Mountain

Arrived in Gravelbourg under an hour later, after passing Thompson Lake and Lafleche too. Dodged a few potholes along the way north of Lafleche.
Saw the familiar water tower in the distance

Had supper and ice cream at the Snack Shack. It had been renamed Junction 101 for a while under different owners, but later switched back under other owners who used the familiar name.

Gravelbourg is probably best known for its cathedral, or its french speaking population.

I should have taken this photo, by the train station (that is now a private house), in black and white

On the way up to Moose Jaw, I stopped at the Old Wives Lake historic roadside pull-off for some sunset photos. I don’t remember if this one is false colour or not, but it’s pretty close to what it looked like
Old Wives Lake
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Folk Festival Saturday

Some more photos from the Wood Mountain Folk Festival, with videos to come when I send some to YouTube.
Wood Mountain Folk Festival
Little Miss Higgins

Wood Mountain
The backdrop over the audience

Wood Mountain
Scene from that hill

Wood Mountain
Scene on that hill

Wood Mountain
Sunset from that hill

On Sunday, my Mum and I helped out at the pancake breakfast, moving tables, serving, etc. Dad contributed some solar powered lighting for the info booth the night before, so we picked that equipment up too. The “green” stage was powered by 4 solar panels, and had a backup cooking oil generator which they never needed to fire up while I was there.