10 Reasons Saskatchewan Is The Most Canadian of Provinces

A few years back, Canada ranked #1 in a UN survey of the best countries in the world to live in.  That same year, a similar study ranked Saskatchewan as the best province in Canada to live in.  So in honour of Canada Day (and with that sentiment in mind), I present the following list.

Of course, if you're going to make a list like this, the first thing you have to do is figure out what defines “Canadian” – not an easy task and something that writers, politicians, philosophers, artists and the folks on coffee row have argued about since 1867.  But there are some common themes that come up in this discussion every time: hockey, the natural world, our friendliness, our politeness, our export culture, our relationship with the United States, our socialized medicine. 

So why is Saskatchewan the most Canadian of provinces when you consider it in light of these characteristics? 

10. Geography
Canada is a land that celebrates its geographical diversity from coast to coast and, contrary to the “flat boring” stereotype (or as the Corner Gas theme says: “You can tell me that your dog ran away/Then tell me that it took three days”), Saskatchewan is the most diverse province in Canada in terms of geography with eleven distinct geographical regions within its borders.  (And trivia time – did you know that Saskatchewan is home to the northernmost sand dunes in the world?)

9. Export economy/natural resources
The majority of Canada's wealth is based on its history as an exporting nation – from the early fur trade to being the largest supplier of oil to the US in the world today (many people, even in Canada, guess that it's a middle eastern country that is the number one supplier.)  Saskatchewan is a huge part of Canada's export culture as a major exporter of oil, natural gas, potash, pulp & paper, diamonds and more.  Of course there are those that would also point out that the biggest thing we export is our people and unfortunately that's often true as well.  In fact, there's a popular belief among Saskatchewan residents that whenever you find a person in a position of power across Canada, perhaps not at the top of the ladder but the pivot person just below that, you'll often find a person from Saskatchewan filling the role.  (One example – Ralph Goodale as Deputy Prime Minister under Paul Martin.)  Saskatchewan people are apparently disproportionally represented whenever there are volunteer activities as well.

8. Friendly People
In a country that's internationally renowned for its friendly, polite citizens, Saskatchewan's people are arguably at the top of the list.  Why is this?  A settler mentality stretching back to the province's earliest days which meant that you had to get along with your neighbours or suffer the consequences still infuses the province today – in how we deal with each other and how we welcome visitors.   

7. Highway and roadways
Canada is a land of travelers who are often defined by their need to be on the move.  In fact, one classmate at library school did an entire presentation on the “road trip” as the ultimate Canadian experience.  Saskatchewan, although admittedly with highways which leave much to be desired (the worst in Canada according to CAA!) also has the most road miles in Canada due to our grid road system which criss-crosses the province.  Because of the sparseness of our population, we also think nothing of driving 3 or 4 or 6 hours for a one-day visit with relatives or whatever.  (I'll always remember the FIMS classmate who was shocked that Shea and I decided spontaneously to drive to Niagara Falls from London one day – a round trip of six hours.)

6. Weather
Canadians are obssessed with the weather and no where is this more true than “Next Year Country” where, with our agriculture-based economy, the local weather forecaster is the most important person on the nightly news broadcast.  Saskatchewan holds a number of Canadian weather records including most annual hours of sunshine (Estevan), heaviest hailstone (Cedoux) and hottest day (Midale).

5. Relationship with the United States
Some would say that our entire culture is based on our relationship with the United States – how we're similar, how we're different.  In fact, the Canada Day issue of MacLean's this year is titled “How Canada Stole the American Dream“. And nothing shows how clearly Saskatchewan leads the way in this differentiation from our southern neighbours than the story about how, in the 1950's, an American publisher produced a social studies textbook with a map showing all of the communist countries on earth in red including Russia, China, Cuba and…Saskatchewan!

4. Inferiority Complex
Sort of related to the last point, a big part of why we're always comparing ourselves to the United States is that Canada has “little brother” syndrome (the more popular analogy is the one about a mouse sleeping next to an elephant.)    Saskatchewan suffer
s from the same affliction except it's Alberta who is our “big brother” – a close relative who's more glamourous, richer, better looking and drives a bigger car – who we seek to emulate in many ways even as we put them down as too focused on money/fame/power/etc.

3. Hockey

Saskatchewan produces more NHL players per capita than any other province, state or region in the world.  'Nuff said. 

2. Generosity of Its People
Canadians have a long history of selfless dedication to and for others – whether its Terry Fox or Dr. Norman Bethune or Stephen Lewis.  But as a province, nobody can top Saskatchewan which is so generous during Telemiracle, an annual province-wide telethon, that the province has been awarded a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in recognition of the fact.  An average year over the course of the thirty years of the telethon would see $1-3 donated for every man, woman and child in the province.  In 2007, that record was destroyed when more than $5 was donated per capita!

1.  Medicare
Perhaps more than any other value, our socialized medicine system is a point of pride for the people of this nation, especially in light of the dysfunctional system that exists just south of us.  As everyone who watched him win the CBC's “Greatest Canadian” competition, this innovation began in Saskatchewan with a man who was born in Scotland, raised in Manitoba and came to define the province he called home for most of his life – Tommy Douglas. 

Comments 1

  1. Grant wrote:

    A nicely revived relevant blog from 2012! Thanks Jason.

    Posted 15 Jun 2012 at 8:36 am
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