Tag Archives: saskatchewan

The Lonesomes #6 – Luke’s Truck

Snapshot 1 (06-07-2012 9-37 PM)

Click the pic to watch The Lonesomes #6 – 2:19

Luke’s Truck

A father commemorates his son’s birthday in a vehicular way.

Reid Dickie



I bought that Chevy half ton from Steve Twerdun. Me and Mary had just got hitched and we needed solid farm transportation. That Chev was a fine piece of truck. People noticed me when I drove it into Marshallville back when it was shiny and new (PAUSE) and I was shiny and new.

Luke, our first born, was conceived in that truck. It was a hot day in late August and me and Mary were drivin’ home from seeing her parents about an hour away. We stopped for a pee by the road when a prairie storm come up with thunder and lightning. It rained hammers and nails. We couldn’t see to drive so we had wild sex in the steamed up truck by the side of the road.

The next May when Mary went into labour, she woke me at three in the morning. We got two-thirds of the way to the hospital in town and she gave birth, right into the tote bag she had her clothes in. Luke just slid right out of her and into the bag. So he was born in that truck, too.

Seventeen years later on an August night Luke drove the truck into a soft embankment, uprooting a tree which came through the side window impaling his head. He died in the truck, quivering at the end of a broken branch. (PAUSE)

(STARTS TO SOB) I leave Luke’s truck up there to remind me and the sky what happened. (TRYING TO GAIN CONTROL) He’d a bin fifty years old…today. (SOBS)


Character Backstory

This deep memory piece aspires to be a great country song loaded with irony and poignancy. An elderly man, 33 years after his son’s death, still grieves every day for his lost child. The old truck, slowly sinking into the prairie atop a rise, harbours his most significant memories starting when he was first married.

The first three paragraphs are delivered almost happily as he recalls the events of the story. In the first paragraph he sets the scene and remembers the shiny, new truck with delight but a bit of sadness creeps in when he says “And I was shiny and new” indicating his advanced age.

The second paragraph he delivers a little sheepishly but with enjoyment of the memory of the day Luke was conceived. The third paragraph again is a pleasant memory if somewhat surprising for the birth in the truck and the ease of it all.

The fourth paragraph is matter-of-fact, deadpan as if he is trying to hold back the emotion of the event. He is still stunned by it. The stark image of his impaled son is followed by a pause so the audience can realize Luke was conceived, born and died in the truck they are seeing. How horrible!

The final paragraph is the kicker. The truck is his personal memorial to his lost son, the object that still connects him every day with Luke. His voice is clogged with emotion as he speaks the second last line. After a pause, the last line is charged with cruel memory as he reports the special nature of the day. The pause between “fifty years old” and “today” and the way “today” is delivered are the keys to the story’s success. He has a hard time getting out the last line before he breaks down and sobs after the story is over. It’s an emotionally charged ending that shouldn’t feel manipulative but honest and sincere.

Since the background sound will only be the sound of the prairie wind whispering through the grass, this has much potential to be maudlin. I want to avoid that. I want the audience to see that although it’s a sad story and he is still heartsick over his loss, there is an underpinning of acceptance of how life is.

Dennis Scullard  gave a superior performance as the still-grieving father expressing his deep and incurable sorrow, just emotional enough. Dennis is evolving into a very good actor and his roles are getting larger. Watch his demo reel.

Luke’s Truck contains the first mention of Marshallville which looms large later in The Lonesomes once we get to town life.


Location Information

This old half ton was a familiar site to me from my sacred site tours as it sits at the bottom of the rise below the buffalo effigy in extreme southern Saskatchewan, again about a mile from Montana.

I love how the truck dominated the landscape while deteriorating comfortably into the prairie soil. I shot it twice on two separate trips, once with the hood open and once with the hood closed. 

The truck belonged to Ralph Rasmussen who grew up on the family homestead just below the buffalo effigy. I met Ralph several times on my trips and have written about him on my blog. He told me his interesting history of the sacred site as well as his family background in the area. Ralph has since passed away but his truck still sits atop the same rise where he parked it years ago. Other than my use of his old truck, the fictional story of Luke has nothing to do with Ralph Rasmussen.

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Filed under Prairie People, The Lonesomes, video art

The Lonesomes #5 – Prairie Fire

JULY WEST 2011 067

Click pic to watch The Lonesomes #5 – 2:28

Prairie Fire

Wildfire races across the open prairie toward a homestead.

Reid Dickie



I ‘member Papa and I standin’ after sundown and watchin’ the red glow far off in the distance. I was skeerd and I think Papa was a little skeerd too. The next night the glow was even closer. In the mornin’ we all could smell the smoke.

Papa got the team out and ploughed a wide circle round the house, the barn and haystacks. We filled everything we had with water: barrels, troughs, pots, pans, kettles, pails, basins, jars, even the chamber pots. We soaked brooms, grain sacks, sheets and anything we could find that sopped up water and could be used to beat back the fire.  My big brother Ivan pumped water so long that day his arms was swole and sore by the evening.

After dark we all stood and watched the fire comin’ straight toward our farm. The prairie grass was so high the fire ate it like it was breakfast. I can still hear the loud roar of the fire. We was lucky. Just when we started to beat at the flames, the wind changed direction and sent the fire across the ravine, away from us. Burned out half our wheat crop though.

The other thing the fire took was the outhouse. It was tinder-dry and it took but one spark to set it on fire. It was gone in no time. Mama and us kids talked Papa into digging the new outhouse closer to the house. Mama had to tickle him to get him to agree.

When we was lookin’ for things to fill with water, we even used the pretty teacups Mama brought over with her on the boat. There was only two of them and one got broke. (PAUSE) Mama cried.


Character Backstory

Raging prairie fires were a frequent danger for pioneers after the buffalo were extirpated and the prairie grasses grew tall and dry in the summer heat. Often fires could be seen approaching for several days across the flat land. It was an all-out battle to prepare for an oncoming fire: from ploughing a wide fireguard around the property to collecting water and gathering materials to beat back the flames.

This story is told from the perspective of a bright eight-year-old girl who lives with her family on their prairie homestead in 1899. The girl’s English is colloquial giving the piece an atmosphere of the era when children’s education was often secondary to farm work. She recounts the story with increasing wide-eyed fear but comfort from having her family around her. There is palpable relief in her voice when the wind changes and their farm is saved. Things lighten up considerably with the outhouse story and we think everything is going to be okay.

Reality rears its head again in last paragraph when one of the two teacups gets broken and Mama cries. The irony and the happy/sad balance is maintained. The broken tea cup was a dramatic and poignant afterthought.

Once again, Nora Nordin-Fredette did an excellent job bringing the fearful little girl to life.


Location Information

This lone abandoned farmhouse atop a rise in southern Saskatchewan was the inspiration for The Lonesomes. I had driven past it dozens of times over the years and everything about it was mysterious to me. It seemed to cry out for an imagination to commemorate its hardships, its joys and fears, its life and death.

It is located in extreme southern Saskatchewan along Highway #18 in the Missouri Coteau near the Big Muddy area. The symmetrical little house with its four dormers was familiar to me from my trips visiting sacred sites in Saskatchewan.  One year turkey vultures nested in the house and when I drove by a vulture was perched on each of its dormers like elegant gargoyles.

I took a guided tour of the area in 2011 from Tillie Duncan, an elderly lady who’d lived her whole life in the region. She explained the house was built in the late 1890s and the family had to bring wood across the border from Plentywood, Montana, about a mile away, because there were no trees in this part of the country.

Combining live action with my still photos of the house the place looks vulnerable enough to suit the prairie fire story I had in mind. The close-up moving pan across the facade details the intricate decay of the old house.

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Filed under Prairie People, The Lonesomes, video art

The Lonesomes #3 – Windmill

Snapshot 1 (12-02-2014 2-45 PM)

Click the pic to watch The Lonesomes #3 – 1:55


A pioneer farm boy reveals his secret about the new windmill.

Reid Dickie



The day they come to drill the well for the windmill is a day I will never forget. Cummy McCharles drilled the hole with his old Lyons-Dominion well driller that ran off a steam engine that sounded like the enda the world and smelled bout as bad. The engine poured out steam and smoke.

A bit of grass caught fire from the driller and we hadta use buckets of trough water to put it out. Lucky for us that’s when Cummy hit water and shut the contraption down. Mama said Satan was operating the gears inside of that well driller.

The water gurgled up right away. It was cold and sweet tastin’. The next day, Mr. Levon came and builded the windmill. He was the first guy round here who builded those things and it took him but one day to have water for us. We needed a few days to get usta having this tall thing in our lives, in our yard. No more primin’, no more pumpin’! Us boys couldn’ta bin happier. 

I can see the windmill out of the bedroom window and that first night it was the full moon. Moonlight flashed between the wings of the windmill and danced like diamonds in the room. The windmill gave me two of its wings and we flew together through the deep blue night with just the stars to guide us. We still do that when the moon is full.

Sometimes I dream the house is surrounded by fields of sweet smellin’ yellow flowers but when I wake up it’s always the same old black dirt full of ruts and dung.


Character Backstory

The innocence and complexity of childhood unfold in this little yarn about an extra special day.

The year is 1906 in a rather desolate location surrounded by a few fields freshly cut from the hard prairie ground, new soil for the old ceremony.

The boy is 10 years old, his voice hasn’t changed and he expresses a continuous tone of amazement at what happened that day. He can hardly contain his excitement at the event yet he doesn’t speak quickly. Instead he is still in awe of the events he describes. It’s a slow dazzle.   

The boy is wholesome but poorly educated and has significantly bad English. This is an intended part of his charm, along with his odd enthusiasm, to illustrate the era. He needs to drop every “g”, use all the sloppy shortcuts and misuses of words as written. He is typical of children of pioneer families who were required to work more, school less.

As he recounts the story, we learn, in his innocence, he has great respect for his parents although Papa goes unmentioned. He reports on the religious nature of his mother. The first three paragraphs have enthusiasm and the thrill of experiencing something for the first time.

During the fourth paragraph, he becomes more wistful and his voice takes on a whispery aspect, as if he is sharing a secret. He tells of the windmill’s wings and flying through the blue night but this is NOT a dream. This communion with the windmill on full moon happens regularly. He is not trying to convince you this happens, he is simply telling you what happens.

Finally he mentions a dream he has that moves from sleep to waking using the sharp contrast between “yellow flowers” and “ruts and dung.” Although pioneer life had its exciting moments, like getting a well drilled, the hard fact of the ruts and dung remain the daily course of their lives. The excitement he felt at the start turns to enchantment and winds up resignation to his life. Yet he knows there is more, much more beyond the farm, but, for now, the windmill  is his escape route.

Cummy is short for Cumberland McCharles. Mr. Levon is my homage to Shawn Colvin. The boy shows completely different forms of deference to the two men by using their first or last names. This is a reflection of his father, the only hint of him in the piece.

I caught Allan Palmer, the young actor who voiced the Boy, just before his voice changed. He did a fine job of expressing the excitement and enchantment of the boy’s experience. More on Allan here and here.


Location Information

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a windmill that was still reasonably intact, working and close to a tumbledown barn or house. Most of the windmills I found were in towns, part of museums or just the support structure without any wings.

I was visiting the buffalo effigy, a frequent haunt of mine in southern Saskatchewan south of Big Beaver, when along the gravel grid road leading to the site I saw this little old house and its dilapidated windmill. The wavy ripe grass and the heat simmer brought a small majesty to the place. I shot it from the side of the road knowing the almost-hypnotic grass would contribute greatly to the prairie imagery.

The actual spinning windmill was next to a new barn on a working farm in southern Manitoba. That’s about as specific as I can get location-wise. I used the yellow canola crop around the farmhouse to accentuate the boy’s fantasy and also his reality.

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Filed under Prairie People, The Lonesomes, video art

Four Docs

Reid Dickie

I’ve been pillaging the Winnipeg library system’s terrific collection of DVDs for recent documentaries and have four to recommend to you. I’m sure you can find some or all of these on the internet.

Gasland by Josh Fox Wanna see a guy light his tap water on fire? Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a dangerous and earth-killing technique that oil and gas companies all over North America use to release natural gas from shale deposits deep underground. A combination of water, sand and over 900 chemicals under enormous pressure is pumped into the shale, fracturing the rock. Trouble is, without any oversight, the drillers pollute the groundwater of area residents with natural gas and chemicals causing dire consequences. On the Canadian prairies, fracking is used extensively in southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan. It would be interesting to look at the groundwater purity in places like Waskada and Melita, MB and Stoughton, Carlyle and Weyburn, SK today and see what happens to it over the next year or two. Click the pic to watch a preview of Gasland.

Buck by Cindy Meehl Buck Brannaman is an American “horse whisperer” of sorts. Raised by a violently abusive father, Buck bucked the typical imitative lifestyle of the beaten-young and lived the opposite life, one of compassion, love and understanding for people and animals, especially horses. We follow Buck as he travels to various four-day horse-training workshops and we encounter the people and horses he meets and tames using his gentle technique which he teaches to the horse owners. We get to listen to Buck’s country philosophy delivered with humour and true wisdom. As Buck says, “Often, instead of helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” I was honoured and humbled to spend ninety minutes in the presence of someone as highly evolved as Buck Brannaman and you will be too when you watch it. Click pic to see preview.

Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy When Linda and me first got together in 1977 we made all sorts of art including street art. Our outdoor work included putting fancy decorated bras on the “breasts” of fire hydrants, postering neighbourhood telephone poles with paper collages and so on. (You can find out much more about our early art efforts on my DTC Art page.) The spirit of street art has grown since then to the degree that one of the genre’s most shadowy figures, British graffiti artist Banksy, has made an Academy Award nominated documentary on the topic. Banksy tries to give us some direction here but this film twists and turns until you’re not sure who or what it is about. Fascinating glimpses into the lives of Shepard Fairey (OBEY) and Thierry Guetta whose role changes as the film progresses. Overall a statement on art beyond post-modernism demonstrating that the distance between graffiti on a brick wall in an alley and on the wall of a cocktail-muzak art gallery is very short. There is some indication the whole movie was a hoax, a prank by Banksy. Decide for yourself. Click pic for a preview.

Catfish by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost After a discussion on the veracity of the internet, my friend Kenn recommended Catfish to me. Thanks Kenn! Here we find a nice Jewish photographer who starts to buy art ostensibly painted by a little girl over the internet. Soon he meets her older sister, again over the internet. They talk on the phone, exchange pictures, check each other out on Facebook and he starts to fall in love with her. He desperately needs something to believe in but gradually things about her don’t add up so he and his filmmaker friends decide to visit her in Michigan. That’s as far as the trailer takes you and I’m leaving you there too. You’re on your own for the rest of this fast-paced eye-opener. I didn’t have much sympathy for the gullible photographer who seemed incapable of any kind of critical thinking, dumbed down and fully in the sway of Born-Yesterday Syndrome but I was richly entertained by the film. The upshot: Believe nothing you read on the internet, including my reviews, unless you can personally verify it, which in my case you can by seeing the films. Click the pic for trailer.

Four non-docs I recommend: Red State is a departure for that Kevin Smith and the antidote to Clerks. Tyrannosaur is a powerful British film completely peopled with despicables. The first season of British crime drama Luther features the incredible Idris Elba in the scary title role. Pirate Radio is a nostalgic romp that includes one of the best Beatles homage moments ever.

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Filed under Art Actions, Diversions, Film, Linda, Love

It’s Grasslands National Park Day on ReadReidRead

Reid Dickie

For the second year in a row, February 1st is Grassland National Park Day on my blog. This year I’m offering two new videos, one of prairie dogs in GNP and a video tour of The Convent Bed & Breakfast in Val Marie, SK on the edge of the park.

Grasslands National Park is an enchanting place. Features of the park include its recent designation as a Dark Sky Preserve, in fact, the darkest Dark Sky Preserve in Canada. Critterwise, GNP is celebrating its first wild-born black-footed ferrets. The park reintroduced black-footed ferrets without much success until last year when, for the first time in 70 years, a wild black-footed ferret was born in Canada. Watch a park video of the ferrets.  

Another reintroduction to Grasslands National Park is plains bison. For the first time in 150 years, a herd of plains bison now numbering about 250 head are part of the prairie ecosystem. Adaptable and comfortable, the plains bison population is increasing quickly with about 75 calves expected to be born in spring 2012. The herd has increased from the 70 bison first released in 2005.

Read posts from last year’s Grasslands National Park Day.

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Filed under Critters, grasslands national park, Heritage Buildings, Natural Places, Saskatchewan

The Convent B&B, Val Marie, SK

Reid Dickie

I’ve spent more glorious nights at The Convent Bed & Breakfast than any other lodging on my prairie travels. Its appeal is powerful and pleasant, relaxing yet stimulating at the same time. The combination of a serene old building and the caring owners creates a peaceful and rare experience. The picture above is The Convent’s charming dining room overlooking Grasslands National Park.

Val Marie (pop. about 130) is located at the western end of Grasslands National Park and features the park office and visitor centre. It’s about an hour south of Swift Current off the Trans Canada Highway. Few accommodations for travelers exist in the little village making The Convent even more precious. An actual convent used as a teaching facility into the late 1960s, the Ducans converted it into a bed and breakfast in the late 1990s. They retained many of the features, such as blackboards, chapel including confessional and woodwork from the original building. Take a video tour of The Convent inside and out with me by clicking on the pic below.

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Filed under Accommodations, grasslands national park, Heritage Buildings, Old Souls, Saskatchewan, Spirit

Prairie Dogtown in Grasslands National Park

Reid Dickie

For sheer cuteness and adorability it’s hard to find a rodent more fitting than the black-tailed prairie dog. Largely extirpated from most of their habitat which extends down into Texas, the prairie dogs in Canada are safely preserved in Grasslands National Park. Several easily accessible dogtowns dot the park and you won’t be disappointed with the shenanigans of these cute critters.

Prairie dogs are a keystone species, meaning they are often the main course for several other species in their habitat. In GNP prairie dogs are preyed upon by newly-reintroduced black-footed ferrets, prairie rattlesnakes, swift foxes, ferruginous hawks,  golden eagles, badgers and coyotes. Burrowing owls nest in old prairie dog burrows. It’s a cozy relationship. Click the pic and spend two minutes in dogtown.

You can find more information on prairie dogs elsewhere on my blog like here and here

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Filed under Critters, grasslands national park, Parks, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan

Happy Birthday Joni Mitchell

“I learned a woman is never an old woman.” Joni Mitchell is 68 today. Her recent years have been plagued by Morgellons Disease, which she claims to have overcome. Joni has halted her career to spread the word about Morgellons. Since the medical establishment has gone to great lengths to deny the existence of Morgellons, its cause must be a great, common and vastly profitable evil, likely genetically-modified foods or a nanotechnology experiment gone awry. Here are some other things on Joni’s mind: “Everyone I know has attention deficit, and they say it with great pride. It’s a bad time to be right.”  “I assume there must be some kind of genetic thrust. My two grandmothers were very different, but both of them were frustrated musicians.” “I’ve got 50 different tunings in the guitar.” “The more decadent a culture gets, the more they have a need for what they don’t have at all, which is innocence, so you end up with kiddie porn and a perverse obsession with youth.” “There are things to confess that enrich the world, and things that need not be said.” “This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms.” “My favorite line in all of literature is Rudyard Kipling’s monkey: “My people are the wisest people in the jungle, my people have always said so.” “When the world becomes a massive mess with nobody at the helm, it’s time for artists to make their mark.” Pictures of Morgellons fibers.


Filed under Momentous Day, Music, Prairie People

Pictures of an Amazing Year

Reid Dickie

This is a sample of my first batch of 2011 travel pictures. Taken in the Big Muddy in southern Saskatchewan, an enduring symbol of hard pioneer life still stands atop a rise surrounded by crop.

I have uploaded the first 56 pictures from my various travels over the spring and summer onto the DickToolCo page on Flickr. They include shots of Vancouver in the spring, a series of cityscapes of downtown Winnipeg taken from the rooftop of the Fort Garry Hotel in mid-May, flood pictures of Brandon, Melita and the flood protest rally held at the Manitoba Legislature in June. During Doors Open I took a series of pictures of the Ukrainian Labour Temple in north Winnipeg. I always snapped pictures during my many trips to Souris covering the flood. Plus several shots from my July travels in Saskatchewan. Some of the pictures are along the right hand sidebar on my blog. All my pictures are here. Enjoy!

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Filed under Art Actions, Blog Life, Day Tripping, Flood, Heritage Buildings, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg

Castle Butte Video Report

Reid Dickie

I have written about Castle Butte in the Sacred Places series and felt it required a video homage. My short report tries to capture the uniqueness of the butte.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Natural Places, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Spirit

Good Night Weyburn!

Reid Dickie

Day into night in a prairie city

Time lapse out my second floor window of the Canalta Hotel in Weyburn with service road, Highway 39 and CPR train tracks all lined up against the sky. As night descends on the prairie city, running lights and headlights flicker like sparks in the dark.

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Filed under Diversions, Prairie People

Shining a Light Into Hidden Places

 Reid Dickie

This summer I have sat on desolate hilltops, communed with Spirit and received guidance and healing. I have slept in the deepest coulee next to a burbling stream dreaming my life into existence while Spirit danced through the trees. I have travelled in trance to the Lower World deep in the earth and to the Upper World high above the treetops, meeting helpful and engaging spirits everywhere. My awareness spans more worlds now than ever before in this lifetime. My imagination builds, integrates and transcends the dream that is my life as it flows seamlessly day-to-day, evolving quickly now, slowing sensibly then quickening again.

Being given the three stone tools at Pine Cree Park, which became tools for me to use in my re-enchantment of the world (part of my current job description), was a significant turning point in this life, in my being. The process of the stones’ passage through my life was pure and well-defined and my purpose intensified. The stones told me to tell you the story of how I got them and what I did with them. I am a messenger. I suppose I’ve always been a messenger of one sort or another: on radio and television, through art, writing and blogging. I’ve been well-trained for my current role. I don’t have a beat-you-over-the-head message. I have a here’s-what-happened-to-me message. Finding the three stones at Pine Cree Park is another chapter in my story of shining a light into hidden places, seeing what’s there then showing and telling you what happened, of bringing home the mystery and the ecstasy.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, Sacred Places, shaman, Spirit

Journeys of the Heart, Journeys of the Soul

Reid Dickie

“Do not think you will necessarily be aware
of your own enlightenment.” – Dogen

My new life purpose has been revealed to me with great clarity during my travels this summer. In a few words, one part of my current life purpose is to learn and be hurled into new experiences then to report what happened with honesty, without proselytization. That is what this blog aims to achieve.

Another part is helping other Old Souls find their clarity, their purpose. Spirit has given me three incredible Old Souls whom I am honoured to assist with their life work. All men, of various ages spanning two decades, my “suns” as I have come to call them, bring vast richness, comfort and energy into my life. I thrive on that and I am grateful everyday for their presence in my purpose.

Wind and rain sculpt the soft sandstone of Castle Butte in southern Saskatchewan

Most Old Souls spend much of their life soul building; for some, life is only about soul building. This is another part of my current purpose. The long trips into the Saskatchewan hinterland have given me the stimulus, the space and the solitude necessary to reclaim my humanity, to proceed with my personal evolution in a world dead set on stealing my humanity from me. Since shamanism begins at Nature mysticism and moves outward from there, my time surrounded by raw Nature enchants my soul, quickens my evolution and drives my purpose. I get healed! I get happy!

People I encountered this summer have surprised me with their understanding and  acceptance of my spiritual needs. I think of octogenarian tour guide from Coronach, SK, Tillie Duncan, who told me she meets people all the time who do ritual at these places so “you’re not the only one, Reid.” I was heartened to know that bit of information and humbled by her gracious silence while I did my small rituals.

At Jack’s Cafe in Eastend, SK, over a long breakfast as I scribbled in my journal, I noticed a 30ish local couple across the aisle eying me repeatedly. When they rose to leave, she came over and said to me, “Are you a cop?” I smiled and said I wasn’t. “Well, you got something, some kinda power.” Her husband stood behind her, nodding and smiling strangely. “Do I make you nervous?” I asked. They agreed I didn’t. She sputtered a bit and said, “You make me feel…” She was grasping for the word and surprised herself it was so simple. “You make me feel happy!” We all laughed and I told them it makes me happy to make them happy and to have the best day they’d had in a long time today. I’m sure they did. He kissed her as they were leaving, giving the old town codgers gathered in Jack’s for their morning coffee something else to gossip about.

Weathered farm house built about 1905 in Big Muddy area of southern Saskatchewan

I get enormous satisfaction knowing that I have incited several people to travel to sacred places this summer, to personally explore themselves within the context of ancient aboriginal holy sites. For some, it has been life-changing. I hope to get permission to share a few of their stories with you on my blog.

I plan to keep the mighty Avenger for a few more weeks as I have a long list places to visit and record around Manitoba. Thank you for watching my videos and being my passenger on some of my travels. Many more miles ahead, the curious and the arcane await us. Stay tuned! Be happy!

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Filed under Blog Life, Day Tripping, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Soul Building

Chris, Buffalo Effigy, June 2011



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Filed under Family, Natural Places, Old Souls, Sacred Places, Spirit

Marshall Family Cemetery

Reid Dickie

Halfway up the side of wind-swept Big Muddy Valley in extreme southern Saskatchewan sits the Marshall family cemetery. Forty-one people, all related to James Marshall, are buried there. He was a member of the North West Mounted Police and, later, one of the first large ranchers in the Big Muddy district. The view from the cemetery is marvellous as the valley stretches for miles in both directions. Join me there on video.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Local History, Pioneers, Saskatchewan

Three Days in Eastend – Crazy Horse Camp

Reid Dickie

Day Three 

On Day Three, I have breakfast of eggs easy, rye toast and coffee after coffee at Jack’s Cafe on Eastend’s main drag. Lots of elbow room out here in southwestern Saskatchewan. Eastend‘s main street is wide and roomy yet still takes up just one-eighth of the sky. I thank Sharon Butala for reminding me about the sky thing. The red man and the white man clashed and co-operated around here and the places still sing their history. Sitting Bull and his people camped near Eastend, Chimney Coulee holds deep local mysteries that history barely touches and the spirit of Crazy Horse haunts a flat area on the valley floor. Watch is my short video report on Crazy Horse Camp.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, grief, Local History, Natural Places, Old Souls, Prairie People, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Spirit

Three Days in Eastend – Chocolate Peak

Reid Dickie

Day Two

Day Two in Eastend finds me standing before this pretty house. Author Wallace Stegner lived in 20 places in eight states and Canada, one of them being Eastend when he was a child. His little house, well-maintained and loved, is now a local tourist attraction and houses resident artists. Stegner’s autobiography, Wolf Willow, is the seminal work about the prairies, much of it youthful remembrances from the Eastend area. A worthy and honest read. In 1972 Wallace won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with Angle of Repose. Here’s an excerpt from Wolf Willow about how the prairies feel. 

“There was never a country that in its good moments was more beautiful. Even in drought or dust storm or blizzard, it is the reverse of monotonous, once you have submitted to it with all the senses. You don’t get out of the wind, but learn to lean and squint against it. You don’t escape sky and sun but wear them in your eyeballs and on your back. You become acutely aware of yourself. The world is very large, the sky even larger, and you are very small. But also the world is flat, empty, nearly abstract, and in its flatness you are a challenging upright thing, as sudden as an exclamation mark, as enigmatic as a question mark.”

The SW Quest for Art & History is a self-guided tour of various historic and artistic places in southwest Saskatchewan, the Stegner house one of its stops. Their website gives you the entire tour.

On Day Two, Today Eastend offers us some recent and geological history wrapped into the same site, Chocolate Peak, situated just outside of town. I won’t spoil the sweet treat. Find out what I mean by watching my short video report.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Local History, Natural Places, PRAIRIES, Saskatchewan

Three Days in Eastend – T. Rex Discovery Centre

Reid Dickie

Day One

It’s Day One of my three-day stay in Eastend. The little town of Eastend, SK is located in the eastern foothills of the Cypress Hills, tucked into the wide and beautiful Frenchman River Valley. Eastend has a vast history which they have traced back to the dinosaurs with the local discovery of a T. Rex skeleton back in the 1990s. What sets Eastend apart is how they have developed their extensive and varied history into a blossoming tourist industry. Glacial landscapes, aboriginals and settlers, historic events and recent discoveries have been put into perspective, developed and now bring new interest and tourists to the town despite its out-of-the-way location.

 Actually, Eastend has two very good highways serving it: Hwy #37 from Gull Lake and Hwy #13 from Shaunavon. Eastend is less than a hour off the Trans Canada Highway, south of Gull Lake. I have visited Eastend regularily since the mid-1990s and watched them create an international image. The T. Rex Discovery Centre, an amazing building set right into the valley wall, opened a few years ago and offers state-of-the-art museum technology and methods to demonstrate the significance of the finding of the T. Rex skeleton. It’s a little bit of heaven for dinosaur lovers. To give you an idea how thoroughly Eastend has adopted the T. Rex as its power animal, there is a street leading to the Discovery Centre called T. Rex Drive. Next to the Centre and halfway up the valley wall (location, location, location) a new housing development is underway called T. Rex Heights! Though I didn’t shoot inside the Centre, here is my video report on the building and its spectacular location.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Local History, Natural Places, PRAIRIES, Roadside Attractions, Saskatchewan

Dusk in Val Marie, Saskatchewan

The Antonioni cottonwoods (watch Blow-Up!) nuzzle the prairie breezes leaving symphonic rustles hanging in the late afternoon air. Nuance consumes nuance. I am mostly naked, cooled by the day as I am heated by the wine. The second floor balcony of The Convent is close to heaven. Linda occurs! I am a blessed being, lucky times infinity, living that same dream in the middle of now here, an exclamation point on the endless prairie! This is what dusk in Val Marie looked like that night.

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Filed under Accommodations, BEAUTY, Heritage Buildings, Linda, Prairie People, Saskatchewan

Bull Snake

Reid Dickie

Out on the Saskatchewan prairie on a ridge above the Big Muddy Valley, I encountered a bull snake. Huge but not venomous, it was coiled and formed into the S-shape of more dangerous snakes. Enough to give me a good heart-pounding fright and bring me thoroughly into the moment, as I report in this brief video.


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Filed under Critters, Day Tripping, Natural Places, PRAIRIES, Saskatchewan