Meet Your 2019 Saskatchewanderer

Meet Your 2019 Saskatchewanderer

May 24, 2019 · 7 min. readThis article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

Zane Buchanan lookin' chill

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.

Bison in Saskatchewan

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.

Lighthouse in Saskatchewan

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.

Dog sledding at the The Canadian Challenge

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.

Church at Lebret

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.

Zane Buchanan by his car

You can follow Zane Buchanan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on his website, Saskatchewanderer.ca.

All photos taken by Zane Buchanan and are owned by Tourism Saskatchewan.

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