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 home 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 has 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.
Instead, it became like Avonlea, Saskatchewan; a small town clinging on to a famous story.
In 2016 the main set of the series was torn down, and signs were erected throughout the community to remind people of what it once was.
My girlfriend and I visited the town in late March. The snow was melting, and the ground was muddy, but the town looked like it would have a lot of energy come summer. When we visited, however, it was a sleepy Sunday afternoon and most of the stores were closed.
In 2016 a self-guided walking tour of the former filming locations was created, and we walked around the community to find these spots. The first location was Oscar and Emma's House – or at least the outside of it; footage from inside the house was filmed in Regina. Today it is private property and is home to a very noisy dog, which I imagine is used to prevent people from trespassing around on the property.
(However, the dog's barking reminded me of how Emma used to talk to Oscar.)
From there we drove down to Drysdale Street, which is home to the United Church and the Rouleau Skating Rink. Both locations were in the show, but both have resumed back to their original usage. These are one of the few places that are the same post-Corner Gas.
The next street over is Main Street and was the hub for filming locations. This street contains places like the post office, the fire station, the hotel, town hall, insurance store and "Foo Mar", the grocery store.
Walking down this street you can see the relics of the show still in existence. The fictional location of the Dog River Howler still has a sign up, although the building appears empty. Around the corner of this building are the character cut-outs, where visitors can act the part of different characters from the show.
The town hall has remained the town hall, but Foo Mar burned down in 2014 and an orthopedic company site in the spot is now an insurance building and the former Police Station is collapsing. A fence is around the building warning people to stay away from it, and the side of the building has buckled. As a historic building, this is a tragedy all on its own – but as this is iconic to the community and the film industry, it's especially sad to see.
The only place that was thriving was the Rouleau Hotel, which is nicknamed the Dog River Hotel. When we visited the hotel it was bustling, with every table full, televisions on and a storm of food coming out of the kitchen. The sign on the door said there was Corner Gas merchandise inside, but all we found were magnets, hats and a little robot from episode 103 "R2 Bee Too".
(Or I think it was, anyway...)
Finally, we visited what was left of the original gas station and The Ruby... which wasn't anything anymore. There was a sign that said what stood there, but for actual landmarks, it was impossible for us to determine which way the buildings faced. It has only been three years since they were torn down but if the sign hadn't been there, there's no way to tell anything was there at all.
Beyond that, the only sign that Dog River ever existed was the name on the grain elevator, which was never changed following the conclusion of the show.
I enjoyed visiting the old set of Corner Gas, but I was sad to see how it had become. The show was popular when I was growing up, and my girlfriend remembers when they came to Pense to film a scene. I also remember when the actors bought props from my dad's old store. To see the promise of something so great, forgotten so quickly, was disheartening. For the average passerby, the town would look like there's not a lot goin' on, but look closer, as you're so wrong.
Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.
At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.
During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.
My article "8 Places to Visit in Regina" is by far my most popular article, being read over 7,000 times in the past 6 months. In honour of the anniversary of my blog (and because 1 of the 8 locations mentioned before is now closed), I decided to do a sequel and talk about 8 more places to visit in Regina. This was really easy as Regina is growing at an extraordinary rate and new, incredible places are opening almost every week.
After the Regina Cyclone huffed and puffed and blew down the majority of houses across the city in 1912, Annie Darke asked her beloved Francis Darke to build her a house that could withstand even the worse things Saskatchewan could blow at it. Being one of the richest and most influential men in Regina’s history, Francis Darke took up the challenge and began to create his wife their very own stone castle.
This massive fortress served as their dwelling for the remainder of their days, until Francis Darke passed away in 1940 and his widowed wife passed away in the very house he had built her, twelve years later.
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.