It was a few years ago when I was a teenaged do-nuthin' know-nuthin' growing up in small town Saskatchewan when I began to think ... which was a novel experience for me at the time ... that there was maybe something wrong with my province.
I had learned that the province I called home was rich in resources, yet for some odd reason instead of being envied by most of the other provinces ... we were constantly being ridiculed. In fact it got so bad that collectively we Saskatchewanians adopted the old “aw shucks, we're just from Saskatchewan” persona while visiting other provinces ... even Manitoba for crumb's sake!
At first I chalked it up to the fact that we were a little late getting into that Confederation thing. Most of them had formed up Canada in the mid- to late-1800s whereas we had to be persuaded to join the team in the early 1900s. So maybe that was it? Late to the party.
But Alberta joined at the same time, and nobody was ridiculing them! And of course Newfoundland ... they didn't see the light until the 1940s. Scratch that theory.
Then I had to assume that it was our lack of population that made us the point of derision. You know, every province was growing ... but so were we, although admittedly, not as robustly as the others. Then we went downhill. But was that the real reason for being Canada's joke province?
Perhaps it was our shape?
We got carved into pretty straight unexciting lines for boundaries, but being picked on for that seemed a little lame even to my untested brain.
Guess it was our government of the day. We were the crazies who decided on medicare and we had a left-leaning socialist team running the operation that nobody else really understood and didn't care to. But that couldn't be it either. After all, there were some real off-the-wall characters running the operations in Alberta and British Columbia at that time, too. They were even more Monty Pythonish than our off-the-wall group.
Personally, I felt we didn't need a whole bunch more people in Saskatchewan at that time. We had the mandate to keep our fields open for growing crops and mining potash and coal and had a good start on the fledgling oilpatch. We needed that space to do what we did and maybe the rest of Canada didn't understand that.
After I moved to Ontario, I began to see where the disparities were. Even in the small city where I was employed (about 15,000 at the time), I saw where they made shoes, and down the road they built cars and across the river was where they made silver tea services and fancy copper trays and in the next city, just 11 miles away, they made socks by the truckloads.
Now, I look at that area of Ontario and they're not making any of those things any more. They lost the market, they lost the will and wherewithal to keep making it happen. Except for a few cars, it's gone.
Now, non-residents are casting eyes toward the province they used to ridicule. Seems we're still pouring out wheat plus a few more internationally desired crops. We're still mining coal and turning it into other things including electricity and now we're going to do it the clean way. We're literally pumping out more oil than ever before, pumping out smart graduates from our schools, shovelling out potash for the rest of the world and finding a few hundred ounces of gold and a few carats of diamonds and other fine things.
Seems no one is laughing at us any more. Even though we're just from Saskatchewan.
Going from have not to have province, has its moments. I just hope we don't get arrogant. I would hate that because that, dear diary, is not what Saskatchewan is about at all, and we should never forget that.