Slightly over a year ago, I set my pioneering eyes west and moved to a place that would not have been my first choice for relocation. You see, I have always desired to live near the mountains, unwind near the sea...upon first glance, the vast open - and I mean open - prairie of Saskatchewan seemed to lack visual poetry (not to mention a decent shopping mall). However, looks can be deceiving and it has been over the past year that I have redefined what it means to feel at home.
Here then is a list of what I love (and hate) about Saskatoon:
People say 'hello' to each other in the street: Modern life is a strange thing. Our reliance on technology has made us collectively indifferent to what it means to be part of a society. The simple gesture of having a stranger warmly say "hello" while en-route to work can change perspective for the entire day. In Saskatoon, this still happens. And I love it.
Boom Town: There's an energy in the air. A ~*spirited energy*~ if you will. It has recent immigrants like myself salivating over opportunity at every turn and the older generation complaining about change at too rapid a pace. Commutes apparently now take 20 minutes instead of 10.
Spadina: A beautiful, meandering drive along the North Saskatchewan River that includes such sights as The Bessborough Hotel and the Mendel Art Gallery.
Donairs: Before moving to Saskatoon, I had never heard of the culinary masterpiece otherwise known as a donair. Yes, it's basically a pita (and I've heard of those)...however, the donair takes it up a notch with meat marinated in a special blend of herbs, spices and magic sauce. It is beyond delicious.
Canada's Worst Drivers: I've been to parts of the world where the changing economic tide has only recently made it feasible for the middle class to own a vehicle. And yet, their skills behind the wheel are vastly superior to what can be found here in Saskatchewan. I'm not even joking when I state that I fear for my life most days when walking the three blocks to-and-from my workplace. Pedestrian crosswalks are a nuisance; red lights a mere formality. Canada's Worst Driver could easily film the next ten seasons in this province alone. Sadly, it's not surprising that the top story on the evening newscast is often another road fatality.
Mainstream Media: I'm a newshound - I can't start my day without reading the morning newspaper (or online equivalent) and during the dinner hour, the friendly faces of various CTV news anchors help me digest the day's events. In Saskatoon, however, I often feel left in the dark. I have no idea what's going on most of the time as the StarPhoenix isn't remotely interesting and news telecasts often only show feel-good stories. I suppose this isn't too major a complaint...Winnipeggers are just accustomed to hearing stories of crime and murder on a nightly basis. How am I supposed to feed my paranoia?
High House Prices: Calgary has more affordable housing than Saskatoon. They've also got a mountain vista, an efficient public transit system and an IKEA. Just sayin'.
Not dog-friendly: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign stating 'No Dogs Allowed'. I live downtown and it seems there are few places where I can walk my pooch without risk of getting fined. Despite breaking the law on a daily basis, it hasn't happened yet...but I do get the shifty eyes from people who fail to say "hello". I think they're just too polite to arrest me.