You have to drive this province in order to appreciate its size, topography and diversity. In the last couple of weeks, I drove to Rama, 266 kilometres north and east of Regina in the parkland with many bluffs of trees and rolling land and a few days later to Ponteix 269 Kilometres south west in ranch and large farms country, treeless, virtually flat except for creek valleys.
Rama is the site of St. Anthony’s Church, a grotto in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes and a statue commemorating St. Gianna patron saint of the unborn. The event celebrated in the grotto the first annual mass for the unborn.
Ponteix celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Sours de Notre Dame Auvergne from France.
Both places have their own form of beauty. The grotto beside St. Anthony’s church was handbuilt and gives the impression of being natural; there is no grotto in Ponteix but the brick twin-spired church dominates the skyline. The interiour is cathedral like and was recently re-decorated. Ponteix is also known for a huge statue of Our Lady of the Prairies on a hillside north east of town looking over the town.
The two communities are integral to Saskatchewan’s mosaic. Rama is largely polish, Ponteix is largely French. Both heritages were recognized in the events celebrated. Following the Rama mass, the community spontaneously broke into a traditional Polish song used for birthday and anniversaries wishing Father Marian Gil a happy 25th anniversary. The mass in Ponteix had our Archbishop opening in French, using French in some parts of the mass and the choir sang several hymns in French.
Both visits re-enforced the knowledge that Saskatchewan is the most diverse province in Canada, both in the cultures represented and the topography. Neither English nor French, what are recognized as our two founding cultures, dominate in Saskatchewan and our topography has all the natural features Canada has to offer. Except for mountains, you say, well, yes, we do have what aviation maps consider mountainous territory in the Cypress Hills. The highest point in the hills is the highest point in Canada between the Rockies and the Laurentiens. What about deserts? We have two (despite Osoyoos’ B.C. claim to have the only desert in Canada); the Great Sand Hills North West of Swift Current and the Athabasca sand dunes on the south shore of Lake Athabasca in our far northern reaches. And of course there are the prairies, parklands, Canadian Shield and a few other smaller features.
Yes, our winters can be harsh and summers sometimes unbearably hot, although I don’t complain much about the heat anymore, but there is much to celebrate and appreciate in this land of the swift flowing river (Saskatchewan).