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Unexpected Misadventures to the Limestone Crevices

Northern Saskatchewan is nothing short of an enigma shrouded with mystery and surprise. One of these surprises is the Limestone Crevices, a prehistoric geological formation unlike anything else in Saskatchewan. I had never been there before, so I decided to go see them. However, every time I go to northern Saskatchewan, something bad always happens. Ever since my misadventure in Prince Albert National Park last fall, and my nearly fatal hike in Utah this past winter, I did everything I could to make this trip not only successful and safe, but punctual and non-life-threatening.

And I failed 90 minutes into it.

I have travelled to northern Saskatchewan a few times, and I always take Highway 11. Highway 2 is faster, but I am always meeting somebody in Saskatoon or veering over to the Battlefords. Highway 11 is ingrained into my muscle memory as the only way to go north. So, it is no surprise that I took Highway 11.

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It's Okay, I Missed My Grad Too

It has been ten years, but I still remember my teacher's face when I told her I wasn't going to grad. In disbelief, she triple confirmed that I was deliberately missing out on the biggest celebration in a student's career. I then triple confirmed that yes, I wasn't going. Then they called my parents. My parents confirmed it too. A month later there was another phone-call. I would be winning some awards at graduation – would I be there to receive them? No, I would not be at graduation.

In 2010 I made a decision to miss my graduation. This year, countless people are forced to miss theirs. The situation is different, but I'm here to say that it's going to be okay.

When the 2010 yearbook came out, I saw pictures of my high school friends at graduation, celebrating, cheering, and having fun. I would be lying if I said there was a void where I should be in those pictures, but there was not. I doubt many of my friends even remember I wasn't there that night. Some acquaintances even thought I moved away.

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An Unboxing Mystery from Mortise & Tenon

Mortise & Tenon, located at 2415 11th Avenue in Regina, is one of my favourite locally-owned businesses. They sell a plethora of knickknacks and trinkets, sourcing from both international and local vendors. When they opened, they wanted to be a signature trinket store like in other major cities, and they have succeeded.

I love shopping there, and even highlighted them on my blog a few years ago in my "What Makes Downtown Regina So Cool" article.

Unfortunately, like many other businesses, Mortise & Tenon was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to close their doors, change their business model and start doing curbside pickups. One of the best things about their store was wandering around and looking at and touching all the quirky items they found, and that was now impossible.

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Meet Your 2020 Saskatchewanderer

Leah Mertz became the tenth Saskatchewanderer in 2020, opening up a new decade in the Saskatchewander program. Much like past wanderers, she has a love for content creation, travel and a soft spot for Saskatchewan. Her journey in the program has been unique so far this year, so I sat down with her (virtually) and asked her a bit about the first half of herself and her time as the Saskatchewanderer.

First off, where are you from?

I originally grew up near Chestermere, Alberta, but probably around the time I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to leave. I went to university in Edmonton but it wasn't a good fit so I eventually moved to Vancouver and went to school there. I was there for 6 years and then moved to Montreal for 4 years. Now I'm living in Saskatoon and it's barely been a year, but it's already changed my life in many ways. I feel like I'm from all of these places in a sense; they're all a huge part of who I am. 

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Reviewing Authentic Ukrainian Christmas Chocolates

Merry Christmas in May! Now that we all live in a pandemic void where time does not matter and space is finite (because we are all indoors), I figured we could review Christmas chocolates in May.

Or, maybe it is because I just finally got around to it. Whichever you want to believe.

Last Christmas my friend, Kateryna, went back to Ukraine to see her family. When she returned, she brought me back some traditional Ukrainian chocolates. Some I had had before in my Experience Mosaic From Your Home article but several others were brand new.

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Signs of the Pandemic Times in Regina

This is a hard article for me to write. On one side, it is easy because I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking. On the other side, it is really, really difficult. It is difficult because for every "closed" sign on a door, there is a family without money, a table without food, a student without a job, a business without a profit and a future that is uncertain.

Even though the Premier of Saskatchewan has put out a 5-step plan to reopen the province, nothing is happening for at least another month. A lot of businesses, restaurants, shops and stores will never be reopened. Post-pandemic Regina will be quite different than just a few months ago.

I think it is fair to say that nobody will take for granted a festival, a concert, a sports game or any type of event ever again. Nobody will take for granted steady employment, a paycheque, a job or a future.

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Where to Stay and Hike in Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah is world-renowned for their stone archways, dynamic terrain and breath-taking sights. However, this park is only one of the many incredible parks in southeast Utah, belonging to the Southeast Utah Group (SEUG) of attractions. The park can be entered for $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle, with access for seven days. However, if you're looking to visit other nearby parts of the state, including other national parks, it would be more economical to get the SEUG Annual Pass for $55.

If you want to visit national parks in other states, or outside of the SEUG, it would be best to get the "America the Beautiful National Park Pass" which is $80 a year, or $20 a year if you're a senior. Seniors can also get the "America the Beautiful National Park" lifetime pass for $80.

There are several options on where to stay near Arches as well, with Moab only about ten minutes outside the park. Although it has a population of around 5,500, the town has everything you need, from restaurants to gas stations to hotels to museums and even a variety of outdoor hiking trails.

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My Deadly Hike to the Delicate Arch

Utah is known for a lot of things, but it's their national parks that make it world-renowned.  The state is not only home to Arches National Park, but also Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Fishlake National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Monument Valley, to name a few. It's a rugged, diverse, beautiful and deadly state unlike any other in the country.

Although I spent plenty of time in Salt Lake City, the reason for my trip was to explore Arches National Park midway down the state. For those who have ever been, the park is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Salt Lake City, and the highway will take you through blown out mountains, fields, small cities and old towns. If you have a full tank of gas leaving Salt Lake City, you should get to Arches without a problem. If you need gas, Provo, Spanish Fork, Price or Green River, among many other communities, all have gas stations. If you need to fill up before going back to Salt Lake, Moab is just a little south from the park and is the perfect place to rest and refuel.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks cost $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle to enter. These passes are good for seven days. If you want to visit other parks around southern Utah, it would be best to get the Southeast Utah Group (SEUG) Annual Pass for $55. This covers Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. If you want to visit national parks in other states, or outside of the SEUG, it would be best to get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass which is $80 a year, or $20 a year if you're a senior. Seniors can also get the America the Beautiful National Park lifetime pass for $80.

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Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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The Haunting of Kay's Cross

If you're looking to visit the notorious Kay's Cross in Kaysville, Utah, you might be tempted to just wander down into the hollow and see it for yourself. However, the cross is on private property and the owners aren't a fan of trespassers. Legend says that the owners will shoot you if they catch you, but they told me they would just call the police instead.

Either way, access to the cross is $20 USD, or $28 CAD, and they only take cash. It's a much cheaper option than a trespassing fine or a trip to the hospital so I recommend this approach.

However, a lot of people still take the risk and visit the cross without permission. Kay's Cross – or the remains of Kay's Cross after it was mysteriously destroyed in 1992 – has become a beacon for the paranormal, both for investigators and for practicers alike. My guide told me that Satanists often visit the cross and perform rituals. Once, he even said he encountered a dark entity while down there.

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24 Hours in Salt Lake City

I recently had 24 hours in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I really wish I had had more time. For those unfamiliar, Salt Lake City is the heart of Mormon country, and with this comes a lot of religion, history and lore. In fact, the Mormons – officially followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – have a major impact on all things Utahan. It's nearly impossible to walk around the city and not see some connection to Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, or Brigham Young, the man who lead the Mormons eastward from Carthage, Illinois.

Although I didn't have much time to explore the city, I noticed there was an overarching Mormon theme everywhere I went. This list only touches on a few of the places of interest I visited, so if you know of any more, please let me know about them in the comments below.

Towering over Salt Lake City is the Utah State Capitol. It was constructed between 1912 and ended in 1916. If those years seem like a strange time to be building a massive structure, keep in mind that the United States didn't enter the First World War until 1917. From 1912 – 1916 they had the resources and men to build something this impressive while the rest of the world did not.

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How to Detect Night Vision Cameras in an Airbnb

I've used my fair share of Airbnbs, and I can honestly say I like them more than most hotels. I stayed in an Airbnb in Montreal, in Quebec City, in Krakow, in New Brunswick and most recently in Salt Lake City. Each experience has been wonderful, the hosts have been great, and the rooms were fantastic.

But not everybody has had such wonderful experiences. Because Airbnbs aren't regulated like most hotels, there is the occasional issue with hosts making unwanted advancements on guests, or even occasions of hosts secretly filming their guests. In response, Airbnb is making strides to make the experience for guests safer and to prosecute hosts that take advantage of them.

That being said, people are still people and things still happen in Airbnbs, as they sometimes happen in hotels too.

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Is Jack Keaton’s Closed?

It feels like February is the month where a lot of my blog's plotlines are tying themselves up. First, there was confirmation from the City of Regina that the glockenspiel I was vying for will finally begin construction, then there was a major update on the cemetery walking tours (coming soon) and now there's something going on with Jack Keaton's. As interesting as this all is, I will be excited when my travel blog can go back to being about, well, travel. I'm sure you will be too. Thankfully we have some adventures at the end of the month that will be a nice change of pace.

For those who don't recall my episode with Jack Keaton's BBQ and Bar, about a year and a half ago (October 2018) I had an online disagreement with the owner of the restaurant. I was attempting to collaborate with them, but they decided to shut down all communications and essentially "ghost" me. After months of ignored emails, I wrote a negative review on their Facebook page, stating that the management was hard to work with. The owner replied and angrily responded, after a brief exchange of words, that I should "get off my ass" and come to his restaurant.

So I did, and I did a review on it and it was not a positive one.

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Taste-Testing Regina's First Jollibee

Although Jollibee was founded in 1978 in the Philippines, it isn't well-known in the West. Appearance-wise, it is a mix between KFC and McDonald's. Their mascot – Jollibee – is a red, anthropomorphic bee, inspired by the friendliness of Mickey Mouse. They have several other mascots too, much like McDonald's, but Jollibee is the main figurehead.

The restaurant opened its first Regina location (2830 Quance Street) in December 2019 and had people camped outside prior to opening day. I can't think of a single restaurant in Regina where this has happened before. Jollibee only has approximately 1,200 (no, I didn't miss a zero there) restaurants worldwide so for it to pick Regina is a testament to our city's diversity and the booming Filipino community.

I know many new restaurants have hiccups when they first open, so I gave Jollibeea little over a month before I visited. I ended up going on a cold, blustery winter night, and I wish I had gone in the daytime to get a better picture of the outside of the building. From what I could see in the pitch blackness, the building was white and grey with white letters on it. There was also a statue of Jollibee outside, welcoming people in, similar to McDonald's and their benches with Ronald McDonald. The statue really surprised me, as it isn't something a lot of fast-food restaurants have.  

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Review of the Regina Airport Hotel

I have stayed at the Home Inn Express twice in the past – once before going fishing, and another on my way to Lethbridge. Both times it was in Medicine Hat, and both times I had excellent service. The room looked the same both times so either I had the same room, or the visitor experience is universal.

Last year I had fellow blogger Jeanine, from Jsask's Mom's Blog, contact me and ask where she should stay in Regina for Country Thunder. Since the Regina version, the Home Inn & Suites – Regina Airport, is only minutes away from the airport, I recommended they stay there.

But, I felt a little guilty recommending the hotel. I've only been to the Medicine Hat variant, not our own, and decided I had to change that. I reached out to the hotel and arranged a room after the holiday rush was over for Jessica's and I's anniversary in early January.

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My 2019 In Review

With the twilight of 2019 upon us, I thought I'd recap a year of ups, downs, achievements, failures and lots and lots of blogging. To start things off, when I entered this year, I had the goal of making "Kenton de Jong Travel" my own personal version of Tourism Regina. After Tourism Regina and I broke ties in 2018, I thought I would take the opportunity to cover more local events and festivals without worrying about stepping on their toes.  

But, going forward into 2020 I think I will dial that back a bit. It wasn't received as well as I had hoped so I'll be looking at what to do different next year. For those who missed them, some of the local events I covered this year included:

I really wanted to cover The Trial of Louis Riel and Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures too, but both of those fell through this year. My trip to Coleman, Alberta also fell through, which is too bad, but hopefully, I can go next year.

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Reviewing Authentic Dutch Christmas Candy

It would probably astound you how many people pronounce my last name wrong. If they're spelling it out, they will probably spell it wrong too. Whenever somebody looks for my name up in a computer, it usually takes several attempts. Is there a space? No space? Try searching just "Jong"? I get weekly emails and letters addressed to "Mr. Jong" all the time. Potential employers even admitted they were surprised to see me walk through the doors, as I am as far away as an Asian man as one can get.

But in a small country on the coast of Europe, my last name is as common as North America's "Smith". In fact, "de Jong" is the most popular last name in the Netherlands, and I have a lot of extended family living out there. As fate would have it, earlier this year I was even lucky enough to meet one of these relatives while she was in Regina.

As a gift, I mailed her a FLAT Bunnyhug, and she mailed me back a box of various Dutch chocolates and candy. I've always enjoyed trying sweets from other countries, so I figured I would make an article about them.  

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What to See With 24 Hours in Calgary

It's been a few years since I last visited Calgary, but all previous trips were either with the Canadian Junior Football League (go Thunder!) or for various concerts. Although this time it was for my "day job", I still made sure to give myself some extra time to see the city before I left.

I've heard a lot about Calgary since high school. One by one I saw my friends move there and start new lives. Since I had some extra time to explore the city, I was interested to see what Calgary had to offer, and what made the draw so impressive.

Although Calgary was a nice city, it wasn't the best day to explore. The windchill was around -20 Celsius, the sky was cloudy, a snow squall was forming, and the streets were empty. (And I only had my phone camera with me, ouch!) My friend Muna, who was acting as my guide, told me that the city was in a recession and that a lot of businesses were hurting financially – although you wouldn't know it by all the high-rise buildings they keep constructing. I didn't see a lot of foot traffic when we were there, but it was also an ugly day out. What I was surprised to see, however, was although it was cold and windy, there was still a lot going on. We spent a bit of time on Calgary's main pedestrian shopping street – 8th Avenue Southwest – and we saw a mini outdoor concert, an Elsa and Anna cosplay and a half dozen enclosed firepits. These little firepits were burning freshly cut wood so the whole street smelt like a campfire.

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Christmas Gifts for the Traveller in Your Life

Is there a traveller in your life? Somebody who loves exploring new places, trying new foods, driving long distances for a picture and who will yammer on and on about their travels if you let them?

For the first time in Kenton de Jong Travel history I decided to put together a list of gifts you can get the traveller in your life. Many of these gifts I own, so I can testify that they are worth investing in.

Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you buy the products I recommend, I may get a little financial kickback.

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Must See Things for Your Toronto Bucket List

Toronto is one of the most vibrant cities in the world and is home to a mix of cultures unlike anywhere else in Canada. It is the personification of Canada's proverbial mixing-pot. Toronto is comprised of six different districts, each its own unique neighbourhood. Much like the people who live in Toronto, the areas of Toronto are just as diverse.

With so much to do and see, many travellers are overwhelmed. If you're in town or passing through, here are some sights near Toronto that should be on your bucket list:

Toronto is proud of its arts and has one of the most progressive music scenes in the world. In fact, it's impossible to visit the city without sampling this iconic music scene. If you are a musicophile and you want to take in a live music performance or opera in Toronto, you will want to visit the Roy Thomson Hall.

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Exploring Moose Jaw's Abandoned Zoo

Before you read this article and freak out over the amount of snow you're about to see, I want to clarify that I took these pictures last March. Moose Jaw had a lot more snow than they do at the time of publishing this. I just postponed the article to prevent you from any winter PTSD during the summer months.

The Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park opened in 1929 as a 540-acre zoo. It contained over 200 types of animals from across Canada and the northwestern United States. For almost eighty years the zoo was in operation, educating visitors on different animals and environmental preservation. It started with bison, bears and wolves, and eventually expanded to include more exotic animals such as lions. It was difficult to get numbers, but it had an average attendance of almost a million people per year.

All this ended in 1995 when the zoo failed to gain the necessary liability insurance. On September 28, 1995, the Environment and Resource Management shut down the zoo. In 1997 the zoo's property was sold to the City of Moose Jaw for $1, with the provincial government providing a $50,000 grant to restore the area.

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How To Get Inside Chernobyl's Reactor 4

When I visited Chernobyl in 2016, very few people had ever heard of it. Fast-forward to 2019 and Chernobyl is one of the fastest-growing tourism spots in Europe, thanks to the HBO mini-series Chernobyl. It has grown so much, so fast, that in July 2019 Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky even declared it an official tourism destination.

It's been incredible to see this location get the international recognition it deserves, but with it comes the question of what to do with Reactor 4 – the unfortunate reactor that exploded and radiated the area. The reactor is imprisoned inside the "Sarcophagus" and is now covered in the New Safe Confinement structure. This means that hopefully, no radiation will escape its fiery, burning pit.

But what if somebody wanted to get inside?

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The Horrors of the RCMP Heritage Centre's Black Museum

They say dead men tell no tales, but these ones do.

The RCMP Heritage Centre's Black Museum only opens for a couple of weeks every few years, with the last time being in 2015. I loved the museum and am disappointed every year that followed when it didn't open. I heard a rumour that it was opening this year after a four-year hiatus, so I reached out to the Heritage Centre and they confirmed the rumours to be true. A few days later, I was there, camera and notepad in hand.

The Black Museum opens with Oliver, a terrifying mannequin that once toured across northern Canada for Christmas shows. Although Oliver says he'll be your guide through the displays of horror that await you, you never have to see him again. However, some people say his eyes follow you as you walk around the room, so don't be surprised if you turn around and he's staring right at you.   

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Review of Inim Bala by Alchemy Prophet

I first met Matt Lay when I partnered with Paranormal And Supernatural Team (PAST) during a paranormal investigation of Boards n Beans last summer. I've heard about Lay in prior work with PAST, but it wasn't until that night that I met him and saw some of the technological wizardry he creates.

Lay has been creating music since he was a child, with his focus being violin and electronic keyboard. Many of his musical inspirations include The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Gustav Holst and Mike Oldfield. He's always had a love for music, although his life has often led him down different avenues of expression.

Lay's story starts in the 1980s when he lived in Mobile, Alabama. Lay was very open about spiritualism and didn't agree with the mantra of mainstream religion. However, he found the culture in the southern United States very restrictive with religion and spiritualism. He would move to the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia in 1989 for a fresh start. However, when he was setting up his new life, the United States fell under the "Satanic Panic". Lay found himself once again harassed by hate groups and ridiculed by local churches, many misunderstanding his ideas, teachings and lectures. This was a difficult time for anybody pagan in the United States.

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Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 2

Normally I sleep very well, but our night in Prince Albert National Park was rough. I woke up a half dozen times, each time curled up at the bottom of my tent, with both my arms on fire. I knew my arms were sore from the sixteen kilometres we canoed the day before, but the pain seemed much worse than normal. Had it been cold out, I would have assumed my muscles were cramping, but it was warm in the tent so that wouldn't make sense. I was too tired to understand why so I straightened myself and attempted to get some sleep.

I woke up to my alarm at seven in the morning. After a little tossing and turning and denial of the day ahead of me, I got up around eight when I heard Kevin getting up.

We brushed our teeth, splashed some of our drinking water on our faces and broke down camp.

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Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 1

It's been about fifteen years since I last visited Grey Owl's Cabin. I went with my elementary school's Outdoor Ed program when I was about thirteen, and the only highlight I remember was missing school when I got back because of the blisters on my feet.

It was also around fifteen years ago that I last paddled a canoe.

So, it's fair to say I wasn't prepared for the 40-kilometre canoe trip to Grey Owl's Cabin. To make sure I didn't lose my way or end up being bear-food, I asked my good friend Kevin Dunn, the former 2018 Saskatchewanderer, to come along with me.

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5 Fun and Budget-Friendly Travel Ideas

I don't know about you, but I could really use a vacation these days. After all the hustle and bustle of the summer, it seems there wasn't any time to relax. What's worse is that it seems whenever I have a chance to save up any money to get away, life throws me a curveball. For many, money and a budget is the key to making your travel dream come true... but it doesn't have to be.

Many people think that you need wads of cash to travel, but that isn't true. You don't have to save up tens of thousands of dollars to go on a vacation. Chances are you can make by with a couple hundred. I've talked about a few different ways to save money while travelling on this blog before, but here are a few other options you can consider:

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the trips you hear about are the only ones worth going on. Thinking outside the box is one of the best things you can do if you're serious about saving as much money as possible. You can start by looking at alternative destinations that aren't as expensive as others, although equally as enjoyable. For example, Ukraine is often cheaper than England, and Greece is often cheaper than Italy.

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Weyburn's Soo Line Historical Museum

Weyburn's Soo Line Historical Museum is a surprising gem of The Opportunity City. Inside the shell of a former factory, the museum embraces the city's colourful past -- both the things they are known for and the things they try to forget.

Like many Saskatchewan museums, the Soo Line Historical Museum showcases early snapshots of prairie history. I expected this going in, but what I didn't expect was a section about early Indigenous people. My reaction might seem unwarrented, but I couldn't think of another museum in Saskatchewan (besides the Royal Saskatchewan Museum) that has a section about Indigenous people. Not only was this exhibit a surprise, but it had a piece of history that I have never heard about before!

This piece of history referenced the Cree "Grandfather Rocks" – basketball-size stones with faces carved into them. These "Grandfather Rocks" were used by Cree medicine men to help carry spirits from this world to the next. Several of these stones were on display in the museum.

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Celebrating Summer with Regina's Summer Bash

If you've been driving around Regina any time the past few months, you've probably seen the signs for Summer Bash. At only three years old, this annual festival seems to be the talk of the town and has taken the southern community of Regina by storm.

This past summer, Summer Bash has rolled out five free movies, from July 4 – August 22, as well as a Summer Market on August 11 and their main festival this upcoming August 25.

Their main festival at the end of the summer is Harbour Landings answer to the Cathedral Village Arts Festival in May, which marks the beginning of summer. Because of the huge success of CVAF and its legacy in the city, Summer Bash is using them as a model to promote local businesses, vendors, musicians and artists.

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selfless in the Age of Social Media

Do you ever feel lonely? Or worthless? Or like you're not good enough?

There's a chance you're not alone.

More and more people feel this way each year, yet our network of people is becoming ever larger. We have a plethora of ways to share our opinions and thoughts, but it seems the more we share, the hollower we become. It's as if the more we put out there, the less we have to ourselves.

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Day Trip to the Cochin Lighthouse

I haven't gone on a major trip since my journey to Riding Mountain National Park last autumn, so I booked off a week to travel out west. However, things didn't work out as I had planned, and my vacation turned more-or-less into a staycation.

Thankfully, it wasn't all for naught. I managed to get away one day, and I did a couple of little day trips throughout the week too. The day I got away I wanted to go as far north as possible, and I chose the Cochin Lighthouse.

The Cochin Lighthouse is just north of the Battlefords and it is the only lighthouse in the landlocked province of Saskatchewan. It sits on the top of Pirot Hill in the village of Cochin and shines a light out onto the nearby Jackfish Lake – or as locals call it, the "Cochin Ocean".

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Visiting The Grave Of Canada's Largest Mass Hanging

I've wanted to visit the Battlefords in Saskatchewan for a few years now. As somebody who loves history, just to visit a city that once housed the capital of the North-West Territories is reason enough. I'm sure I've passed through the city when I was younger, but I've never had the chance to explore it as an adult.

My interest in both cities grew when I was doing research for my 2017 article, "6 Saskatchewan Cemeteries to Visit This October". One individual I interviewed for the article was Don Light of the North-West Historical Society. Light was tasked with the sensitive job of moving about eighty graves within The Battleford Cemetery. Relocating graves is always the last option when it comes to a cemetery, but in this case, they had no choice. The Battleford Cemetery sits on the edge the North Saskatchewan River, and the banks of the cemetery were slowly eroding. Had the graves been left undisturbed, headstones, monuments and caskets would start falling into the roaring river below.

Light and I had an excellent chat that day and he told me many fascinating stories about what they found when they were moving the graves. Some of the graves he had to move were Metis graves, all while under the supervision of police and Indigenous professionals. Many of these caskets had rotted and were open, and they found a plethora of Roman Catholic crosses and First Nation beadwork, a sign of traditional Metis culture.

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When A Swastika Isn't A Swastika

You probably clicked on this article because of the swastika. Many people feel strongly about it and believe that it is offensive to show any swastika, at any time, absolutely ever.

But the thing is, what if it isn't a swastika? What if it's a sauwastika?

"It doesn't matter!", some would say. A swastika is a swastika is a swastika. Well, not exactly. To start, the swastika, and its inverted counterpart sauwastika, have been used for millenniums by civilisations around the world. They have been used by the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Vikings, First Nations, Egyptians, Celts, Mayans, Greeks, Africans, and everybody in between. Some refer to it as a symbol of good fortune, while others say it is the symbol for the top of the earth, the centre of the universe or the passaging of time. The Buddhists recognise the swastika as the symbol of Buddha's footsteps. Where his teaching goes, so does good fortune and the swastika.

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Hitting Like A Girl at the Regina Fringe Festival

Where normalcy ends, fringe begins.

Every July, the Regina International Fringe Theatre Festival hosts five days of drama, dance, comedy, magic and theatre. This event brings in performers from around the world, and every show is vastly different from the next. This form of abstract thought is something that is so diverse – so orthodoxly perverse – that there are no limits to what it might create.

This is what Devon More's performance Hits Like A Girl intends to explore. Abstract thought is the very essence of creativity, but what happens if you lose the ability to use it? Without the boundaries of normalcy, there is no fringe; and without fringe, there is no normalcy.

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Win A Trip to the Strangest City in the World

Frank Albo is known to many as "The Dan Brown of Canada". He gained this informal title through his many decades of research, interviews and investigations into the secrets of the Manitoba Legislature. Through his work, he claims that Winnipeg was meant to have a much larger role in Canada – going so far to say that it was to be the "Jerusalem of the New World".

It may sound odd, but there are a lot of strange motifs within the Manitoba Legislature that otherwise wouldn't make sense. These include being the exact dimensions of King Solomon's Temple, having medusas and demons guarding the entrances, and a "black star" of sacrifice beneath the rotunda. Stranger still is that none of these symbols are in the visually similar Saskatchewan Legislature which was constructed about the same time and for the same purpose. For some reason, the Manitoba Legislature was uniquely created in this manner.

Albo's research has not only gotten a lot of attention in Canada, but international attention too. One of these people was His Excellency Konstantin Zhigalov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan. While visiting Winnipeg in 2014, Zhigalov attended Albo's tour. After it concluded, Zhigalov pulled Albo aside and invited him to the capital of Kazakhstan. The request was peculiar, but the moment Albo arrived, he knew exactly why he was chosen.

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Tastes & Treats at The Food Truck Wars

When I was younger, I prided myself on having a hollow leg and the ability to eat much more than the average man. However, last weekend at The Centennial Market's second annual Food Truck Wars, I finally met my match.

I've written about The Centennial Market a few times, and I've watched it grow in leaps and bounds the last few years. The market is inside the shell of the former Sears Outlet building, a building where I spent much of my childhood. Sears closed this outlet building in 2016 and shortly afterwards The Centennial Market opened in an attempt to save the shopping centre.

The market grew quickly, and the parking lot of the building has become a hub of events throughout the year. One of the biggest events is the annual Food Truck Wars.

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What HBO Got Wrong About Chernobyl

Those who attended my Chernobyl lecture at the Queen City Collective earlier in May would have heard me singing praises about HBO's new miniseries Chernobyl, and for good reason. HBO did a fantastic job on the miniseries by immersing the audience into mid-1980s Soviet Ukraine and by peeling back the layers of the disaster.

With that said, there were some liberties HBO took while making the show. As somebody who spent two days in the Exclusion Zone in 2016, I know a thing or two about how the events unfolded, and a few parts of the miniseries weren't accurate.

Chernobyl began by tackling a nearly impossible task. The miniseries had to break down one of the largest cover-ups in human history. They had to show the devastation of the world's deadliest nuclear disaster and also highlight the many countless heroes who stepped up to make a difference. It's natural to expect HBO to simplify this – and they only had five episodes to do it. I don't blame them for some of these mistakes, but I felt they should be pointed out.

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Meet Your 2019 Saskatchewanderer

Zane Buchanan is your typical run-of-the-mill Saskatchewanian. He was born in White City, just outside of Regina, and attended Greenall High School in Balgonie. He graduated in 2010.

After graduation he moved to Victoria, then Toronto, then Vancouver and then Toronto again. He took theatre and then shifted over to journalism. He started as a arts and cinema critc and then moved over into being a copywriter. Like anybody in their 20s, he was trying to find his place in the world.

Although he left Saskatchewan for schooling, Saskatchewan never left him. It didn't matter if he was in Vancouver or Toronto, he was always "the Prairie kid" or "that guy from Saskatchewan".

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110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

I've known Jenn Smith Nelson for several years now, and I often look up to her for inspiration and guidance on how to grow with my blog. I remember hearing about her book over a year ago, and I've been holding my breath in anticipation ever since.

Smith Nelson teamed up with Doug O'Neill, another talented travel writer, to cover two Canadian provinces. Their new book, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, is a part of a Firefly Books series that showcase Canada's diversity of nature.

 (Other books in the Firefly Books series include 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta, 100 Nature Hot Spots in British Columbia and 110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario.)

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13 Churches to Visit Before You Die

The recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral got me thinking about how lucky I was to see such an incredible building – and how lucky we all are that it's still standing. In honour of its survival, and the Easter Season (assuming I can get this out prior to Easter Sunday), I thought I would put together a list of some of the most beautiful churches I've seen in my travels – and hopefully inspire you to see them too.

This article only lists churches I've been to, but there are countless others that people should visit too. Are there any other churches you think people should visit? How about temples or mosques? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

St. Paul's Cathedral has been an iconic structure in London for over a millennium.  The current cathedral was constructed in 1697 after the previous (fourth) cathedral was lost to the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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5 Awesome Things to do in Malaga

Written by: Nicola Kennedy, Connect 2 Spain.

Steeped in history dating back to the Phoenicians, Malaga, Spain has always been a trading post for the countries of the Mediterranean Sea. Both the Greeks and Carthaginians settled the area, with the Romans finally creating the first municipality. Originally, Malaga thrived on the export of meat, salted fish, olive oil and raisins.

When the Roman Empire fell, the Visigoths arrived and ruled the city until the Moors established their Caliphate somewhere between 714AD and 716AD. They continued to use Malaga to not only export foodstuffs but also products from a burgeoning textile industry.

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Dog River After Corner Gas

Dog River, the fictional town of Corner Gas (2004 – 2009) is in Rouleau, Saskatchewan, about 40 minutes south of Regina. This town was once the location for over 100 episodes, a movie, and now an animated series. During production, buildings were renamed, structures were built, and the streets were full of actors, comedians, politicians, filming equipment and tourists.

Corner Gas was popular in Canada, the United States and Europe, getting somewhat of a following like Anne of Green Gables in Japan. Many European tourists came to Saskatchewan just to see the set, visit the locations from the show and experience small-town Saskatchewan life. The show was such a success that April 13 is even designated "Corner Gas Day" in Saskatchewan.

Once the show ended, many expected Dog River to become something like Avonlea in Prince Edward Island. It had the potential to be a thriving tourism centre, with live-action characters, running gags, scenes from the show, themed restaurants and Corner Gas merchandise.

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Moose Jaw's Medieval Château

It was fifty years ago that the Château Room was brought to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but only a few people have ever heard of it.

If you've never heard of the Château Room, you aren't alone. There's no conspiracy to keep it hidden; in fact, people visit it every day. The reason few people ever talk about it is because it's only accessible to military personnel.

So, as a civilian, it took me months to arrange a finally get a tour, and when I saw it… Well, why don't we start from the beginning.

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Saskatoon's Escape Manor is the Place to Beat

About five years ago I tried my first escape room, and I've been a fan ever since. Solving puzzles is something the web developer in me absolutely loves, and I've lost count of the amount of escape rooms I've attempted. Each one I've done has been fun, challenging and rewarding, although often very frustrating – all of which keeps me going back for more.

Many escape rooms offer board games, food and drinks before the "big escape" but Escape Manor's new Saskatoon location brings entertainment to a whole new level. Along with drinks and delicious food from partnerships with a select group of restaurants downtown. They also have custom board games, axe-throwing and bocce ball. Axe-throwing is something I've seen before (and, yes, thank you everybody who messaged me on social media – I know there are axe-throwing places in Regina...) but I've never seen it offered in an escape room setting. After I saw it, I thought it fit in perfectly. The gleaming axes and splintered wood go along perfect with the lanterns, chains and distant screams of madness from down the hall.

Saskatoon's Escape Manor also has a pillory as opposed to the Regina's Escape Manor's electric chair. I'm not sure which one I like more, since both are very cool, and very uncomfortable, but it does give the location an iconic touch.

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Top 10 ½ Tallest Statues in Saskatchewan – Second Edition

We all make mistakes, and Norway's crossing of Moose Jaw won't be forgotten anytime soon. With a lasting Moose Truce nowhere in sight, tensions between The Land of the Living Skies and the Land of the Midnight Sun have never been more antler-raising. Moose Jaw is holding a summit of Norwegian politicians the next few days to find a moos-lution and Justin and Greg have opted to flee the country all together (or maybe they went to a hockey game in Vegas… tough to tell what those two are up to sometimes!).

In the meantime, unlike Norway, I can admit when I made a mistake. A few weeks past I wrote "The Top 10 ½ Tallest Statues in Saskatchewan" following countless hours of research… and within 30 minutes of hitting "publish", I received a correction. As the days rolled by more and more corrections came in, I decided a whole new list would be needed.

When creating this revised list, I had to make one rule: vehicles on top of stilts or on tall platforms do not count as statues. I didn't think I would have to make parameters around what a "statue" is, but I had to enforce this one or else I would be calling farms all around the province. So, sorry, Craik's Motorcycle Tower! Your farm owner didn't call me back and now he ruined it for everybody!

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Taboo

Disclaimer: This article is about sex and sexuality. If you don't feel comfortable reading about that, please feel free to skip this article.

Taboo… The Naughty but Nice Sex Show is coming to Regina this weekend and with it comes many questions you probably didn't know how to ask. As somebody who has never gone to Taboo, I have done the down-and-dirty research to figure out what to expect during your first time.

Taboo runs from February 22nd – 24th at the Conexus Art Centre and is more of a trade show than an actual performance. The premise of the show is mostly education, not just entertainment. It's important to remember that adult entertainment is just that: entertainment. It is based around reality, but it has an element of fantasy attached to it too. Just like how movies and video games take everyday life and puts it in fantastical situations, adult entertainment does the same.

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The Magic Behind Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

Would you rather live in a perfect fantasy, or a flawed reality?

This is the question Crystal from Cirque du Soleil's latest performance must ask herself. Is the pain and suffering we go through on a daily basis worth only a few moments of joy? Or would it be better if there was only joy and no pain at all?

Crystal might be the 42nd Cirque du Soleil performance created, but it is the first to mix ice-skating with acrobatics. It isn't all skating and twirling, though, as twenty-two of the thirty-four performers are professional acrobats.  

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Review of TiVo - The World's Smartest PVR

Last month I wrote about Access Communications' new TiVo system. As the month has gone by, I've used it more and more and in return it's learned more about me. TiVo is known as "the world's smartest PVR" because of its artificial intelligence. You can vote content up or down to give TiVo a hint, or you can just watch the content you enjoy, and TiVo does all the algorithmic work in the background.

But what does that mean for user experience? Well, let's talk about it.

One of my lesser-known passions is urban planning. I love learning about how to house, transport and feed people more effectively. Not to get all hippy-dippy, but I believe we are at cross-roads between a dystopia like Kowloon Walled City or a utopia like Orbit City.

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Top 10 ½ Tallest Statues in Saskatchewan

This list is incorrect. Please go read my updated version.

Saskatchewan is known for its quirky statues but lately one of them has made international news.

If you haven't heard, Justin Reeves and Greg Moore of Justin and Greg reported that the people of Oslo, Norway have created a moose statue slightly taller than Saskatchewan's Mac the Moose. Moose Jaw's mayor said that if you mess with a moose, you'll "get the antlers", while the deputy mayor of Stor-Elvdal, Norway said they will do "whatever it takes" to keep their title. To reclaim their title, Moose Jaw is considering everything from putting stilettos on Mac's feet, to giving him a hat, to making his antlers slightly larger. Whatever it takes to outdo Norway's chrome monstrosity, Moose Jaw is willing to do it.

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Top 10 Creepiest Dolls From The Island of the Dolls

It's the time of year people start heading south to Mexico to escape the winter blues. About two years ago I took my first trip to Mexico too, but I went to the Mexico City and Puebla instead of a beach-front destination. While preparing for my trip to Mexico I remembered that Xochimilco is just south of the Mexico City, and that this Venice-like community was home to the famous "Island of the Dolls."

I've written about my time to the island before so I won't go into too many details in this article. Instead, in honour of my almost two-year-anniversary of my trip to one of the creepiest places in the world, I put together a list of my Top 10 Creepiest Dolls From The Island of the Dolls.

(I would say "enjoy", but c'mon now, you know this is going make your skin crawl.)

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