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".
He had just settled in Toronto for the second time when he got the call to be the Saskatchewanderer. He had two weeks to pack his bags and fly across the country to start his new life. From there, "It's [been] a constant hamster wheel."
But Buchanan wasn't welcomed as easily as previous wanderers. Many voiced their concerns online about why Tourism Saskatchewan would choose somebody who wasn't "from Saskatchewan" to represent the province. This surprised Buchanan. In Toronto he was an outsider, and in Saskatchewan he had become an outsider too. But he knew Tourism Saskatchewan picked him for a reason, and he took this as an opportunity to prove himself.
Five months later, Buchanan has brought out a new side of what it means to explore Saskatchewan. Although past wanderers had explored the province previously, Buchanan hadn't – and neither has his interprovincial audience from Vancouver and Toronto. Many were intrigued by the program. What makes Saskatchewan so special? Why was there somebody specifically hired to explore the province? This interprovincial curiosity is something no previous wanderer had.
Since starting as the Saskatchewanderer, Buchanan has had his fair share of challenges, with the biggest is somewhat surprising.
"There is so much driving," he laughed during the interview.
In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, personal vehicles are a dying breed. Public transportation, railways and subways can get you wherever you need. But in Saskatchewan, the only way around is by your own vehicle. It's taken Buchanan a few months to get used to all the driving, but he's finally getting his "sea-legs".
Another challenge Buchanan has had to face was an abnormally cold winter. After missing the "joys" of Saskatchewan winter for the past eight years, Buchanan assumed he had just gotten soft from all the winters in Toronto and Vancouver. At the start of his term, he would purposely go outside in -45 weather just to climatize himself. This lasted about a month until somebody informed him it wasn't just him; it was actually freakishly cold outside.
When asked what one of the biggest surprises was after becoming a celebrity, Buchanan said it was all the attention he has been getting. When he was in Toronto and Vancouver, he was a face in a sea of people. But in Saskatchewan people stop him on the street to take pictures and they honk at him on the highway.
"You can't train for this," he told me, and as somebody who has experienced similar things on my travels, I totally understand.
But Buchanan loves it, and he loves discovering the province with both his provincial and interprovincial audiences. Unlike past wanderers that have been overly active on social media, Buchanan focuses primarily on writing pieces on The Saskatchewanderer blog – a medium that other wanderers haven't used as much. For those who don't follow the blog, it may seem like Buchanan has been quiet lately, but that can't be further from the truth.
And it isn't going to change anytime soon.
From May to September, Buchanan's schedule is packed. It's a lot of "glamour and hard work" he told me, and he can't wait to do it. Few people understand just how demanding the Saskatchewanderer position is. The position does the work of an entire media team, from content creation, social media promotion, video production, interviewing, lecturing, driving and, of course, taking the time to actually experience the places he's visiting. But now that Buchanan has gotten the first few months out of the way, he's ready to take on summer.
Buchanan's favourite adventure so far was dog sledding in Prince Albert National Park. A lover of dogs and the outdoors, Buchanan took part in The Canadian Challenge, which is a 600km round trip dog sled trip from Prince Albert to La Ronge. This
challenge follows the original path of the trappers, North West Mounted Police, and First Nations people.
While in the north he also spent time at various Cree camps, learning about Indigenous culture and traditions. Buchanan has a unique approach to this, as he has Metis heritage, and hopes to highlight a part of Saskatchewan that has been hidden for far too long.
He has a lot of plans for this year, from kayaking and drag racing, to enjoying Cypress Hills and the Ness Creek Music Festival. He can't wait for the second half of his year, and neither can we.
The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.
Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.
Thanks to TELUS' incredible network, sections of Saskatchewan that once never had coverage can now be fully explored while still being connected to your mobile device. No matter where you travel in Saskatchewan -- or even in Canada -- this summer, you can rely on TELUS' mobile network to keep you connected.
In case you haven't heard, Super Tuesday was last Tuesday and everybody's most disliked presidential candidate, Donald Trump, did very well. He didn't do as well as predicted, but he did well enough that he is now officially taken the lead for the Republican nomination. While the Republicans struggle to find some way of stopping Mr. Trump, many Americans worry about the future of their country. As a result, many Americans have been thinking about moving to Canada.
While similar statements were made when marijuana and gay marriage was legalized, "How to move to Canada" spiked 1000% on Google after last Super Tuesday. In fact, the Nova Scotia tourism website got more traffic in a single day then it did all last year and the Canadian immigration website was having difficulties handling all the traffic, so it seems that a lot of people are wondering if they should move to Canada.
As a Canadian I feel it is my duty to highlight some of the reasons why somebody – particularly an American – should consider moving to Canada.
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.