It's probably a little baised to say, but Saskatchewan is my favourite province. The people, the culture, the atmosphere and the weather help make this province unlike any other place in Canada. But, being as Saskatchewan is so big and so beautiful, it can be a challenge to know what to go see and do.
Enter the 2017 Saskatchewanderer.
Since I started my blog, I've tried to interview the Saskatchewanderer every year. I couldn't last year due to the provincial election putting a temporary freeze on the program, but this year I could. Last March I called up Andrew Hiltz, the 2017 Saskatchewanderer, and learned about him, his thoughts of the program and his experiences so far.
Andrew grew up in Coronach, Saskatchewan, a small town near the towering Castle Butte and the Big Muddy badlands. As he got older, he moved to Moose Jaw to attend SIAST and received a diploma in Marketing. After graduating, he experienced life in the big city and went to visit his friend in Vancouver. Andrew loved Vancouver so much that that four-month trip quickly transformed into two years. While in Vancouver he was formally introduced to mixed cultures, different foods, unique tastes and a world unlike that of his hometown.
But, Andrew missed his family and eventually moved back to Saskatchewan. When he returned he really began noticing all the different cultural restaurants and festivals that happen throughout the province. It wasn't that these had appeared in his absence, but instead it was that he was seeing them with fresh eyes.
For about a year he practised filmography as a hobby. His videos got better, and he became more and more comfortable around the camera. He had been following the previous Saskatchewanderers and when the job became available, his friends and family encouraged him to apply. He took their advice and entered his name into the pool of scores of other talented people. Leading up to the decision Andrew felt confident he had gotten the job, but the day the call was supposed to come in, that confidence vanished. When the phone finally rang, he said it was "the biggest relief ever" and was a "dream come true".
His most memorable experience so far was at the Canadian Citizenship Ceremony in Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a multi-millennium old area a few kilometres north of Saskatoon. While a citizenship ceremony isn't something most people would consider the most exciting thing to attend in Saskatchewan, Andrew said it was one of the most powerful things he had ever experienced. He saw over 40 soon-to-be Canadians gave up citizenship of their home country for a chance to start anew. One lady Andrew spoke to left her home country five years ago and can finally bring her children overseas. Five years is a long time to be apart from your children, but it's worth it to know they're growing up in Canada. Andrew said while he didn't have time to talk to everybody there, the ones he did had stories and experiences that were incredibly touching.
Another part of being the Saskatchewanderer that Andrew loves is all the different food he encounters. In my own experiences, I found the amount of food I received while travelling can sometimes be overwhelming, but that isn't the case with Andrew. Instead, he loves all the different food and is constantly excited to taste the next dish.
Many people believe being the Saskatchewanderer is the easiest job in the world, but Andrew has already learned that it isn't. For every 1 hour he spends on the road, he'll spend 3 hours in front of the computer, on social media or making travel plans. The job is full of long days and long nights, but it's also one of the most rewarding jobs out there. Although it's challenging, Andrew loves it.
The first 3 months have been full of food, laughs and adventure, and Andrew is excited to see what the spring and summer have in store. In April, he's heading out to Cypress Hills, but beyond that, he has pages and pages of notes for places he wants to visit. When I interviewed Andrew, he had just finished being on CBC Radio's Blue Sky and was recommended a list of places to visit, so I know he has a lot of travelling to do.
Once he's done being the Saskatchewanderer, Andrew isn't sure what he'll do with his life. He's always wanted to be a radio personality, but time will tell if that ends up being the direction he takes. Until then, he's our 2017 Saskatchewanderer and we wouldn't have him any other way!
Are there any places you want the Saskatchewanderer to visit this year? Let me know in the comments below.
I don't often take blog requests, but a friend approached me recently and asked about Venice. He's traveling to Italy for a wedding this summer and is stopping in Venice for few days. He asked me if I knew what he could do in the Floating City, so I racked up a list of ten things for him to see.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything, what your favorite thing to see in Venice was, or if you plan to go visit Venice after reading this!
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.
Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.
I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.
Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.