The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements

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, east to the Manitoba border, north to the Trans-Canada Highway and back to Moose Jaw. Many of the communities here are named after “people of the pen”, famous, infamous, and lesser known.

Written with the casual air found on coffee row in most of the towns and villages they highlight, The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements profiles such luminaries as Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, and Wolfgang Mozart; Canadians like John Dafoe and Robert Service, and less famous figures like James Isham and John Ridpath.

At 164 pages, the book is a quick escape for readers with a taste for history and biography. From the book-opening authors’ note that pays homage to the elevators that used to dominate the Prairie landscape, to the town by town profiles, the Thomsons use the book to carry on the heritage of both living and long-dead communities.


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