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Report 1739: Six Weeks in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC where English Tourists Don’t Get to....

By Eleanor from England, Summer 2009

Trip Description: Report of a six week trip to Canada - including the parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia the English tourists don’t get to visit from May to July 2009.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - Canada

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 9: Arrival in Canada, Elk Island and Ukrainian Heritage Museum

photo by Eleanor

Disking the field - Ukranian Heritage Museum

This originally started as three to four weeks but rapidly grew to six weeks as I did more research. We did all the arrangements and booking ourselves as we couldn’t find an agent in UK who got into the areas we wanted to go or if they did were going to book us into the usual tourist hotels which we didn’t want. We wanted to meet Canadians and see the real Canada, not other tourists.

We have done a web site with all our pictures and information about the places we visited and where we stayed. It can be found in the sidebar under Photo Albums.

The report that follows are my personal thoughts about an amazing trip.

We booked a hire car through Enterprise as this was the only company who would cover us to drive on gravel roads.

We flew into Edmonton and had three nights based in Fort Saskatchewan. We decided on Fort Saskatchewan rather than Edmonton as we knew it would be quieter and would avoid navigating around a large city in a strange car. A sensible decision.

Being used to UK road signing it took me a long time to crack navigation in Canada. Even with a good map, route finding can be a nightmare. Signs (where they have them) were small, not easily seen and often on top of a junction.

We visited Elk Island National Park. At the end of May, the buffalo herd were easily seen from the bison loop road. By end of July they had disappeared into the further reaches of the park. We liked Astotin Lake area and there were several easy trails to do there.

We spent a full day at the Ukrainian Heritage Museum. This is a reconstruction of an Ukrainian village from the 1920s. The houses are nearly all original buildings, which have been moved and rebuilt there. The history of the families has been thoroughly researched and all the staff are in role for the 1920s. They have learned their parts thoroughly (down to the accent and broken English) and are completely in role. They are working the land, cooking, cleaning as if it was 1920. It is a bit disconcerting at first as you feel very much as if you are inviting yourself into someone’s house and stopping them from working. You also have to work a lot harder at asking questions. They can tell you all about the family history, where they came from in Ukraine, how many of the family came across, how long it took to get established and details of 1920s life. But you can’t find out anything about what happens next.

We went into one of the sod houses where the family had only been for a month. This was the first house to be built as it could be put up in a few days. Life was very much ‘on the edge’ and you suddenly realised how thin the line between success and failure was. There were two children and their job was to look after the family cow and stop it from wandering. The family could not afford to let the children go to school - they were an essential part of the work force.

All the women had ‘Nora Batty’ wrinkled stockings (that may not mean anything if you aren’t from UK as it refers to a character in the TV series “last of the Summer Wine”) and I was dying to find out how they held the stocking up but didn’t like to ask. It was too embarrassing and personal question to ask a stranger. It wasn’t until we were in the church, which is the only place the interpreters are not in role that I could find out the finer details of their underwear.

This was a fascinating day and we learned so much about the way of life, problems facing immigrants and how they were overcome. Chance to see inside a grain elevator was a highlight and to find out how it worked.

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