Many times I have declared that I wish I had a buck for every time I have driven the Trans-Canada highway between Winnipeg and Regina. Once the snow is on the ground, that should be at least two bucks.
I did the roundtrip again just a week ago, narrowly dodging an early winter bullet. Southern Saskatchewan has already received more snow that they had all last winter, and southern Manitoba is not far behind.
I feel a lot better about the journey since I invested in a proper set of brand new winter tires a year ago. More than ever, I believe that Quebec has the right idea in making such equipment mandatory.
My father, the Boy from Balgonie, told me stories about what it was like during the Canadian version of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. His words came flooding back as I watched the Ken Burns documentary on PBS.
What happened in Saskatchewan and the rest of the prairies was depressing and frightening, but it paled in comparison to what happened on the Great Plains in the U.S. Older friends in Regina told me that the PBS show was just too painful to watch. I had never heard the terms dust blizzard and dust pneumonia before, but both existed in the dirty thirties in Canada and the U.S.
The streetlights were regularly turned on in Regina at 3.30 in the afternoon because visibility was so limited by the choking dust and dirt. Dad told me about people gleefully standing outside and getting soaked to the skin when the sky finally delivered much-needed rain.
He did not tell my tender young ears about families he knew of where someone starved to death, or took their own lives out of shame and despair in that terrible time. We should not forget those people, and we should watch the work of Kens Burns, no matter how hard it might be.
I’m Roger Currie
You can listen to Roger Currie’s commentary by clicking on the link below: