Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 28: A Cordial Reception in Wolseley

By on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 9:50 AM

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We started off the day with no antiseptic. Steady rain and driving Easterlies greeted us and there was nothing to do but do up our chinstraps and clamp down on the stick in our teeth. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide: just 5 hours of grunt work ahead. My shift was fortunately broken up by a hot lunch which gave me the fortitude to complete the toughest day so far into the prairie town of Wolseley, Saskatchewan.

Things improved immediately though, and as soon as we were set up in the Sleepy Hollow Campground (yea, lots of cracks about a visit from the headless horseman), we were welcomed by the mayor, Dennis Fjestad, who insisted he give us a tour of his fair town. We were surprised by its rich history, the brick opera house, the original courthouse, even a swinging bridge that was built to span a lake dammed up by the CPR in the last century .The town took it's name from General Joseph Wolseley, a British General who had worked his way up through the ranks as a sniper, sent out by John A. Mac Donald to chase Louis Riel. The railroad hadn't quite reached Wolseley by 1880, and Riel slipped away 15 minutes before the general and his army marched into town. By 1900 Wolseley boasted some of the poshest homes in the west, as it was a centre for tree farming (to sell trees to homesteaders to shelter their shacks) and flower gardens (to supply the Easterly CPR expansion of railway stations and settlements).

After our tour and hot showers we were invited by the Mayor and his wife to join local residents Shar and Ken who lost their beautiful son Sean Patrick to suicide because of his bi polar illness, just a month ago, for dinner at the Chinese cafe in town. I think they took comfort in meeting us and hopefully some strength to move forward in their journey. Wonderful people who no doubt cherished the time, albeit too short, with their son. After a great feed compliments of the kind mayor, we skipped across the street to hone our pool game and catch the last period of the playoffs. Feeling the fatigue of battling the Easterlies all day, we skipped the overtime and tucked into our kips, asleep before we could conjure up any thoughts of the headless horseman riding into camp on his hopped up black stallion, his fiery pumpkin and all his other little apps.

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