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.
If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.
Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.
For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.
In my December newsletter I said I wasn't going to write about Regina as much anymore and focus more on international locations, but after a friend of mine told me there was no "interesting history" in my city, I decided I had to write this just to prove them wrong!
Let me know in the comments if you know something I don't, or if I got something wrong! Historical facts seem to change overtime, after all!
I'm happy to present to you, on the 113 year of its existence, 100 Facts About Regina!
A few articles ago I listed Ogema as one of the top destinations to visit in Saskatchewan. Immediately after I wrote the article, I put my money where my mouth was and booked a weekend trip to Ogema for my girlfriend and me. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my readers to recommend a place for them to visit without actually visiting it myself, and after getting my new Galaxy S7 from TELUS I figured I needed a reason to test it out.
Earlier this year I took my Galaxy S6 to La Ronge, and had very little coverage. I wanted to use Facebook's new Live Video option, but I couldn't get enough service to even send a text message. I was pretty disappointed by the coverage with that provider, so I was interested to see how TELUS' network was in Ogema.
The result was pretty darn good! We streamed Spotify all the way there, were able to do a Live Video from the Deep South Pioneer Museum and took some really great pictures and videos of the trip. It also helped to have a reliable network when I got lost driving there (don't ask me how!). TELUS has invested over $29 billion into their network since 2000 and it has really paid off. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter where you travel, you can rely on TELUS to keep you connected.