Saskatoon, we’re proud to call you home.

Posted by Marlinee on Jan 12, 2011 in Work |

I spent two winters in Saskatoon (the only time measure that depicts the full reality of the experience) because I got a job at the Saskatchewan Research Council that paid a ridiculous amount of money. I maintain that anyone can live anywhere for the right monetary reward, but usually after about a year you forget why you thought it was such a good idea. That was pretty much the case with Saskatoon.

Not that it had absolutely no redeeming qualities. The South Saskatchewan River that winds through town looks quite nice during the two weeks that resemble summer. The summer I was there, a huge flock of pelicans arrived and spent their northern vacation on sandbars in the middle of the river. This was probably one of the biggest events to ever happen in Saskatoon that didn’t involve tractors, so it attracted quite the crowd every day until they flew home to Texas.

I lived in downtown Saskatoon, such as it is, in the highest building in town – a new 12 story apartment building, where the first three floors were an above ground parking garage because the frost line prevented subterranean parking. It wasn’t too bad though, and it was walking distance to my job on the University campus across the river.

The purpose of the SRC was to conduct applied research to enhance economic activity in the province. Naturally, a lot of activity was devoted to agriculture, and many of the researchers were farmers or came from farming stock (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This was indicative of most of the population. They had found jobs in the city, but went home to the farm just about every weekend. The sidewalks rolled up at 5 each night, and on Saturday and Sunday downtown was mostly a ghost town. This did not bode well for any kind of social life outside of people I met at work.

Fortunately, as I was in charge of the Information Centre (aka library), I did meet a lot of people. One of them was Bobby Gimby’s nephew, who was conducting research into the effects of potash super cooling on winter wheat (or something like that). He was in the library a lot, which I thought was because he always wanted to read the Agriculture News when it was hot of the press. However, it turns out he was also interested in the librarian.

One day he phoned me at home and asked me out for a Saturday night date. Even though this was on a Friday, since my social calendar wasn’t overflowing, I agreed. I then looked at the paper to see what kind of entertainment might be available and accessible without sidewalks. As luck would have it, a country band I knew from the Ottawa Valley was playing at some dive on the outskirts of town. This was fantastic, for a couple of reasons. I could see some friends from home and I could safely ditch my date if necessary.

On Saturday, Mr. Gimby arrived to pick me up, apologizing profusely that his truck had broken down and we’d have to figure out another way to get to the bar. Since it was early enough in the evening, there were actually a few cabs dodging the tumbleweeds in the centre of town, so that solved the immediate problem.

We ended up having a great time, and I was the proud recipient of an autographed copy of the band’s new single (very creatively recorded in English on one side and French on the other). I don’t remember the name of the song, but I still have the record somewhere (alas, but no longer the mechanism to play it). However, it was rather late when we decided to go home, and a cab was not an option. Instead, we hitchhiked, apparently not at all an unusual way for people long out of high school to get from point A to point B in Saskatoon because we got a ride pretty quickly.
That was just about the pinnacle of my Saskatoon social life, if you don’t count the annual SRC picnic and hoedown. The latter event was unfortunately marred by someone stealing the bicycle I had used to get there, but that’s another story.

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