UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Family reunion, Saskatchewan style

The clan comes together under big Prairie skies

By Carolyn Pogue

We’ve just celebrated my father’s 100th birthday. He died in 1999, but 40 of us gathered from around Canada and three other countries in his honour for a sunny week in rural Saskatchewan. I never asked Dad what he considered sacred, but my guess is he would have said land and family.

My sister and brother-in-law, our hosts, planned for months. They’d had outdoor compost toilets built. They drew maps to show where to erect our tents in their spacious yard. They had mapped out the horseshoe pitch, croquet wickets, bollaball court, Crokinole and Scrabble tent. Saskatchewan is called the Land of the Living Skies. Our hosts had even listed times for moon rises and sun sets, and had us out of our sleeping bags to see spectacular Northern Lights at midnight.

Other plans included menus, teams for meal preparation and for a nature-centred scavenger hunt. My team consisted of a four-year-old, a niece just home from three years in Seoul, our Yellowknife nephew and great-nieces from Hong Kong and Mission, B.C. The menus were built on a quintessential 100-mile diet: their own organic garden, with eggs and meat from down the road.

Ed Sullivan would have been impressed with our concert. We sang O Canada in two languages, then the anthems of Korea, Spain and China. Fifteen dazzling performances followed. My brother and a three-year-old told knock-knock jokes. My husband threw caution to the wind and played a harmonica as six-year-olds danced. A Rubik’s Cube was completed in three minutes; the Koreans hilariously danced to the music of Psy. Skits, puppets, songs, whistling, poetry and boxing demonstrations rounded out the show. Fireworks ended the night.


Three cousins at the dugout. Photo by Carolyn Pogue
Three cousins at the dugout. Photo by Carolyn Pogue
One day, we picnicked at nearby Manitou Lake, known for its healing waters. We floated in the mineral waters at the spa, walked the village streets and shopped for provincially made arts and crafts. Saskatchewan, like Newfoundland, gives terrific support to local artists, craftspeople and food producers.

Overlooking Manitou Lake, an old-time dance hall reigns supreme. Danceland is one of the few left in Canada still boasting a springy horsehair floor. After a catered meal, we formally celebrated Dad. We began by singing God Save the Queen, just to give the under-50 crowd a taste of how it was done “back in the day.” We also marked family members’ successes, such as graduating kindergarten, receiving the Queen’s Jubilee medal, passing a driver’s test. When the live band began to play, we put on our dancing shoes and joined the hundred or so locals and tourists on that famous floor. Later, some went to watch their first-ever drive-in movie.

Some events were planned: our daughter’s all-ages water quality workshop with specimen minnows, frogs and water bugs provided by the kids; our nephew’s harmonica lessons, the baseball game. Some events were surprises: my brother proposed marriage to his partner. The week sped by.

My father didn’t have an easy childhood. His parents divorced when he was seven. He lacked a proper winter coat for the long walk to school. He struggled through the Great Depression, too. But these experiences made him strive to be a good father and to contribute to community. His grandchildren knew he always had time to listen. Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks.
Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Environment

Song leader, police and gate blockers in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Photo by Kimiko Karpoff

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

A faith leader reflects on protesting the pipeline with the Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation.

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Society

June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.

Environment

May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.

Faith

June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.

Justice

June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.

Columns

May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.

Editorials

June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image