Preeceville, Melville & Esterhazy, Canada
First stop on our road trip is Preeceville, where my niece Erin lives with her partner Josh and their newborn Blake. The photos we have been getting almost daily have been great, but don’t at all compare to the feelings that arise when we meet and then hold Blake. Fantastic!!
When he needs his diaper changed and Erin asks who wants to volunteer for the job I respond that my career involved enough of that and Craig quips that the last diaper he changed was Erin’s. The circle of life!
For dinner, we drive 20 minutes down the highway to Stenen where an old school house has been converted into a very trendy restaurant called Rawhides. Great food, an impressive wine list and authentic feeling cowboy ambience. The prairies have changed in the 30 years since we left. Even the big cites did not offer this kind of dining experience when we lived here. The foodie and decorating movement has transformed this part of the world.
Next stop is Melville, where I lived from ages ten to seventeen. Judy & Jake, my sister and brother-in-law, have lived here for more than 50 years. My mother recently moved back here from Penticton to be closer to them. Although Vancouver is now my home, this is my family home. The days we spend here are quintessential for the season: thanksgiving dinner, play-off baseball, yellow and red leaves fluttering in the wind.
Our final family visit is in Esterhazy, Craig’s high school home. His brother and sister-in-law, Brent and Heather, and their teenage children Scott & Kirsten live here. We take the kids and Gracie, their golden retriever, on a drive to Crooked Lake, through the Qu’Appelle Valley, to the Neville family cottage. For Craig, it is a trip down memory lane, including the drive back through little towns – Grayson, Killally, Bangor – where he played hockey. For the umpteenth time we comment on how grateful we are to have been raised on the prairies, something we appreciate more and more as we age and with every trip back to Saskatchewan. Being here makes me feel young and old at the same time.
Today Craig flies home to Vancouver. I’ll stay and spend a few more days with my family. Tomorrow or Wednesday we’ll drive east to where our roots are, to Kamsack, Rhein, Runnymede, where old cemeteries contain what remains of our ancestors, including my father.