Open Space: so common, so unique

As a prairie publisher I enjoy every opportunity I get to travel the prairies, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. It's big sky country, and there's not a lot of traffic.

We took the opportunity of travelling to Regina, Saskatchewan, several weeks ago to launch Are you serious? A family's devastating encounter with brain injury at the RCMP Centennial Museum in Regina, which is located at RCMP Depot, the training centre for our national police force. We had a successful launch and met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom had served with the RCMP in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, as did our principal author, Barrie Nowell.

After playing two gigs with our band from University days on the weekend, we left Regina and drove to Rouleau, Saskatchewan (about a forty minute drive) to see the set for the hit CTV program Corner Gas. It's Canadian: it's about a small town in Saskatchewan: it's a great hit across the nation: and if you're still reading this and have not seen the program, tune in to CTV each Tuesday starting October 5 and enjoy what I think is the best TV comedy produced in this country in the past thirty years (I know: I can't think of any others either, but this one is good).

Corner Gas has done wonders to boost the local economy, in terms of both economics and Saskatchewan pride. Waiters in our hotel in Regina, local farmers and others told us about their friends working as extras on the series. Most people we talked to were at first surprised that people in other provinces enjoyed the show: but they then told us their stories about visiting the site and about the filming that had just concluded for the season.

Saskatchewan is hosting various other film projects, including a movie directed by Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python fame.

Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta is big sky country. Europeans and people from other parts of the world - people who have travelled extensively - love the sky and the space. They see the prairies as unspoiled and open, with just the amount of amenities necessary for a comfortable life, but without the problems of large urban sprawl where one drives from city to city without seeing countryside between them.

A friend in Saskatchewan told us about someone with a bed and breakfast operation in southern Saskatchewan who received a call from a European travel agency. 'What colour is the sky?', asked the agent. 'Blue,' was the response. 'Great. We'll send people.' And they did.

Watch the skies in Corner Gas. Then, drive to the southern prairies and try to keep your eyes on the road: the skies are just as big and blue as they are on television.

Come and visit us on the plains. You might wish to stay: but don't tell your friends why. We need a few more good people out here, but we don't want everyone from Toronto to move to Regina or Rouleau (otherwise known as Dog River in the TV series). We need our space.

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