Prairie West School Division: A Rural Legacy
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 29 October 2008

In spite of no technology or teaching aids other than a blackboard (chalk allotment was one piece per day), students and staff have fond recollections. The school became the hub of the farming community. Dances, church services, recruiting meetings during World War 1, fowl suppers, Christmas concerts, and summer picnics took place at the school. Many teachers were young women teaching on permit. Some left after a short time, being unable to manage the responsibility and isolation of their teaching positions. Neighbourhood bachelors, eager to change their marital status, anticipated the arrival of the new teacher. Blumenhof School #4089 added a second classroom in the 1940’s. As the new foundation was being poured, the students threw the school strap into the cement. At King’s County School #4428, students used thistles to build forts. Part of the entertainment was setting fire to your rivals’ fort!

Emry’s Dream: Greystone Theatre in Photographs and Words
Thistledown Press / 27 August 2008

Current Greystone Theatre director, Dwayne Brenna – known to many as a writer, actor, and “Eddie Gustafson” on CBC SK Radio — has orchestrated a history of Greystone with essays and black and white archival photographs that reveal the theatre’s finest hours — and some of its darkest – in “Emrys’ Dream:
Greystone Theatre in Photographs and Words.”

Thistledown Press / 17 July 2008

Svoboda by Bill Stenson Published by Thistledown Press Review by Chris Istace $ 18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-30-0 Svoboda, by Victoria, B.C. author Bill Stenson, is a story of assimilation, providing a strong overview of how one Doukhobor family came to be as Canadian as their neighbours. Vasili Saprikin grew up in the midst of the tumultuous early history of the Doukhobor’s struggle to maintain the way of life they wanted to bring to Canada from Russia. A communal people, their settlements in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia were being assaulted by governmental attempts to assimilate the Doukhobor people into the Canadian culture of the 1950s. The Doukhobor’s response to this pressure developed into a pacifistic faction and a violent one. Learning from his grandfather, Alexay, Vasili stood outside these two factions while being taught to be proud of his heritage, regardless of how the circumstances of his culture changed. This was a challenge after the boy was whisked away from his single mother, Anuta, to residential school, where he was introduced to a conventional North American education and lifestyle. Vasili came to enjoy being educated and living the life of a standard teenager, however negative his experience at the residential school…

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements
THORO / 2 July 2008

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements by Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson Published by THORO Publishing Review by Chris Istace $22.95 ISBN 0-9734313-0-X There’s something quaint about the way communities are named in Saskatchewan. Whether the names honor heroes or villains – local or foreign – a geological feature, or a historic occurrence, each community and the stories behind their naming are a significant part of their histories. Their names say something about both the people who settled there and the generations that followed. Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson seek to establish how much of an influence the “people of the pen” – writers, poets, journalists, scientists, historians, composers, artists, and others – had on the people of Saskatchewan with The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements. Working in the vein of Bill Barry’s “People Places,” the Thomsons outline the lives and times of the writers and artists who had their names etched on maps and highway signs throughout Saskatchewan. The authors pay particular homage to the communities in the southeast area of the province, which they have labeled “Writer’s Corner”. This zone includes a box on the map that runs from Moose Jaw, south to the U.S. border,…

Frontier Farwell

Frontier Farewell. The 1870s and the End of the Old West by Garrett Wilson Published by University of Regina Reviewed by Tim Tokaryk $19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-193-2 The hoof prints have long since gone. The imprinted sand and clays quickly re-shaped by time, returned to a landscape dominated by natural grasses and sagebrush. But in cluttered archives and journal scrawlings their imprint remains. The impressions, ideas, hopes, and simple need for survival of the people of Canada’s West are newly amalgamated in Garrett Wilson’s Frontier Farewell, The 1870s and the End of the Old West. In this heavily researched volume, Wilson suggests that this period was pivotal to the shaping of the prairies and Canada as a nation. The Dominion of Canada, fearful of annexation by U.S. expansionismwas incensed in the marking of its territory, particularly along the seemingly arbitrary line of the 49th parallel: a line that didn’t follow any topographical relief or structure, a line determined in a country across an ocean. Despite what was decided in the mother land thousands of kilometers away or in the nation’s eastern capital, which seemed like another world in and of itself, the reality of determining the right course of action had…