July 25th – Magic French Courtyards

When we went to Gravelbourg, my biggest disappointment was that the Mayfair restaurant was permanently closed.    The Mayfair was an icon in Gravelbourg and Sunday Brunch at the Mayfair was the stuff memories were made of.   A visit to see my mother always included taking her for at least one meal at the Mayfair.

That being said, amazingly the high point of our trip to Gravelbourg was our breakfast at Cafe Paris.   Not only was our meal perfection but we were able to dine in their very unique and secluded courtyard,  so that Kat could nap comfortably in the shade while we enjoyed our breakfast.

We have definitely discovered a great place to start making some new cherished memories.

One thing I did not get a good photo of was the ‘ceiling’ of the courtyard, which was a lacy combination of vines and patio lights. It was so pretty and I am sure it is gorgeous in the evening when the lights would be twinkling amidst the vines.

Our trips to Gravelbourg will not be as frequent as in years gone by, but I am fortunate to have my own little magic courtyard at home for when I meditate. Maybe next summer, we can get some vines and twinkling lights for my evening meditation. 💞

It is hard to get a photo that shows what an overall cool and pretty little space this is. 😌

Time to head out to my personal little French courtyard! Wishing all a nice Sunday. Take care and I will be back tomorrow!

July 23rd – Magical Lives

Our main priority for our recent trip to Gravelbourg was to visit the graves of my parents and grandparents. We had not been back since my Mother passed away eight years ago, but nothing felt more familiar than driving through the cemetery gates.

There is something so fascinating about graveyards – especially small country graveyards. The monuments are so unique and personal. It is easy to contemplate the lives of those who have been laid to rest in these graveyards. From the tiniest infants to the tots, the teenagers to those who passed away in their prime, to those who lived long full lives, did they feel loved? Were they excited to experience this life? Were they grateful that they lived in a country like ours, a land of peace and plenty? Were they amazed by the changes that took place in their lifetimes? Were they happy?

Growing up, I heard stories of many that now lay in this country graveyard. I heard heartbreaking stories, funny stories, life stories. I heard of their days at small country schools. I heard of horse and buggy trips to socials in neighbouring communities. I heard of their labour that went into the fields and the building of their community. I heard stories of these people struggling and surviving the great (and definitely not so great!) depression and two world wars. I heard of these people celebrating weddings and funerals, Christmas and Easter, and summer picnics at nearby Thompson Lake. I heard a lot of stories!

On summer visits to my grandparents, I met friends and relatives, that now lie in this graveyard. When I see my grandparents’ graves, I always notice the graves of their next door neighbours – in life and death – side by side!

Cimetier Notre Dame De L’assomption – Our Lady of the Assumption Cemetery
The headstone my father built for his brother. Uncle Herman died of leukemia when he was only 25 years old. He died in Regina, in my father’s arms. My father brought his body home by train, to be mourned by his family and buried in the Gravelbourg Cemetery. (Due to a communication misunderstanding, my grandparents thought that it was my father who had passed away and that he would be returning home with his surviving brother, Herman – making their shock and grief all the more devastating).
My father’s parents, Uncle Herman, (Kat), and my parents. (Kat seemed to instinctively know how my Dad and Uncle Herman would have enjoyed her company.)

Those were the best photos I had of the cemetery. I could have posted many more but each one holds so many stories, this blog would have run on indefinitely!

I hope you are having a nice day and anticipating a good weekend! See you tomorrow! 💞

July 22 – Magic on the Prairies

Back to our trip home a couple of weeks ago… On Highway 2 just south of Moose Jaw, there is a heritage museum that we pass on our way to Gravelbourg. If you find yourself passing through southern Saskatchewan, I think this is a stop worth making. 😊

The highlight of this museum (in southern  Saskatchewan, far from access to any  ocean port) is what was meant to be a seafaring steam ship. This ship was built by one determined Finnish immigrant, during the great depression, using a few handmade tools and brute strength. The complete and strangely fascinating  story of Tom Sukanen and the Sontiainen can be found here.

What began as a tribute to one of our more colorful settlers, has grown to a sizeable collection of historic buildings filled with relics from our past. One such building is a firehall filled with firefighting items from the early 1900’s. Plans are being made for a building to house and restore the fire trucks that have been collected over the years.

There is also a large display of farming equipment that would have been used by the early settlers to this area.

If you are interested in visiting the Sukanen museum, there is more information to be found on their official website.

I hope you found a little magic in this short tour. We did not have time to go inside the Sontiainen or any of the buildings, only a few of which I have shown here. Maybe next time! I will be sure to share the photos I am able to get at some point.

Have a great day and I hope to see you tomorrow! 💞

July 18th – The History of Gravelbourg

The town of Gravelbourg was founded in 1906 by French settlers led by Father Louis-Joseph Pierre Gravel. 

Recently, there has been much negative press regarding the Catholic Church and native residential schools in Canada.   This news has somewhat, and I am sure inadvertently, been misleading for many.

There were 139 native residential schools in Canada where native children were placed against their will and against the will of their parents.  Of these schools, 44 were operated by the Catholic Church.  There was widespread abuse throughout the entire 138 school system – verbal, mental, emotional, physical and sexual.   Many children died from disease and other unknown (and frequently nefarious) causes.

I only mention this because, this horrendous part of our Canadian history, has no connection to Gravelbourg or the other French Catholic settlements in  the southwest corner of Saskatchewan.  There were no such schools in that area and no means by which people in that area (or their particular Catholic clergy) would have been privy to any knowledge of these schools until relatively recent history.

The  basic truth is that the Catholic church was instrumental in founding several communities across Canada.  They built and maintained hospitals, schools, and churches and provided the opportunity for settlers to build ‘communities‘ by hosting religious services and social events.  The church provided safety and refuge to French settlers, especially in this area, as they were often targeted for attack by local member of the Ku Klux Klan. These French settlers were typically honest, industrious, caring people who took care of their own and supported others – all others – in their communities. Which is, to this day, typical of their descendants.

Louis-Joseph Pierre Gravel – the founder of Gravelbourg
The beautiful Gravelbourg Cathedral.  Built in the early 1900’s it would have taken the dedication of the entire congregation to make this building a reality (especially in rural Saskatchewan).   The inside is amazing.  The parish priest, Monseineur Charles Maillard devoted ten years of his life to  painting the interior walls and ceilings.   Nowadays this Cathedral is frequently used for hosting ecumenical celebrations.
The bishop’s residence
The parish hall is not nearly as grand as other church buildings – but it holds many fond memories for the parish and for our family.  I remember taking my teenagers there for a humble soup and bread luncheon one Sunday morning (from Regina) as the proceeds went to charity.  However as always, with the amazing cooks in Gravelbourg, the meal was a feast by any standards 😂  And as always, my Mother and her friends were there to welcome us with open arms. 💞
The elementary school is a part of the Catholic heritage buildings site.
Close up of the elementary school to show a sample of the detail on these buildings.
These last three photos are of the College Mathieu site (as you drive into Gravelbourg). This building is the pool and recreation centre which is college property but available to the public.
This building is the college residence. Many of the students are from outside the Gravelbourg area.
This would be the actual college building.

The Town of Gravelbourg has a rich and magical history, of which the Catholic Church played a major part. I hope you enjoyed this short tour of the buildings that continue to stand at the heart of this unique community. Did you notice how well the grounds of all these buildings are kept up? It is the same throughout Gravelbourg – their parks, their streets, their graveyard. Everything is so well maintained and I don’t think we saw a piece of litter anywhere. It is an amazingly neat and tidy community.👍

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful day. See you tomorrow 💕

July 16 – More Magical Moments

Dan and his golf buddy decided to stay home and golf a couple of our local courses this weekend, instead of taking their annual golf trip.   I feel bad that they decided to forgo their little holiday, but it is nice having Dan here for the better part of the weekend. 🤗

Dan made my meditation corner a little more magical by adding a convenient little table. 🙂
Dan took me to my very favourite restaurant for lunch.  We were even able to eat inside for the first time in about sixteen months.   When I started dating Dan, he asked me what my favourite restaurant was and my kids said “don’t say Arby’s!” Apparently in the dating world in Regina, one is supposed to say Golf’s or the Diplomat.  (Which are both lovely high-end steak and seafood restaurants.)  We have been married for 22 years now.  I doubt that Dan will bail now because my favourite restaurant is Arby’s.
Then we went shopping to buy a new desktop computer to replace ours that died during the last full moon.   After three or four stops, we got one at Best Buy.  I guess they are the best. 🤷 Actually, they were the only store with technically knowledgeable sales clerks.
And we stopped to pick up a few groceries and some styrofoam bowls. I do not know what was with my hands but I was not getting four bags of styrofoam bowls off of the shelf and into our cart. 🤦
Kat scored a few fresh strawberries when we got home.  She loves her strawberries and Tiny Tim tomatoes. Apparently, she has even figured out how to pick her own tomatoes.
Our Buddha statue in his little ground cedar grotto.

We had a nice dip in the pool after we got home.  The water is super warm and crystal clear this year. I am lucky that Dan stays on top of all the filter and chemical stuff even when he is on a set of shifts.

Hope you have a nice rest of the evening and have a good weekend planned! See you tomorrow! 💞

July 14th – Magical Moose Jaw

On our way to Gravelbourg last week, we made a few quick stops in the small city of Moose Jaw. Like Gravelbourg, Moose Jaw is a unique community with a rich history that has been well preserved. This magical little city on the prairies also has a few newer landmarks that add to it’s charm.

Unfortunately, due to impending weather, we did not have much time in Moose Jaw. I hope you enjoy the photos we were able to get. We will be returning to Gravelbourg this summer, so we will get more to share with you at that time.

Mac the Moose welcomed us into Moose Jaw. While he is an imposing fellow, the city of Moose Jaw was not named for him or his ancestors. According the the Moose Jaw website “The name Moose Jaw comes from a Cree name for the place, moscâstani-sîpiy, meaning “a warm place by the river”. The first two syllables, moscâ-, sound remarkably like “moose jaw””.
This is not a great photo of Mac, or the windblown old lady with the dog. It is simply to illustrate the formidable size of Mac the Moose.
This monument to the Moose Jaw (Canadian Airforce) Snowbirds aerobatics team sits a few meters from Mac the Moose.
Moose Jaw Main Street. One of these buildings leads to the Tunnels Of Moose Jaw. While these tunnels were built to house utilities for the city, they have a rich and fascinating history. Many Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroad in this area used the tunnels to escape the head tax that they could not afford to pay on their meager wages. The tunnels also afforded them a warm and safe refuge from violent racist abuse from some of the locals. During prohibition, these tunnels were used for smuggling liquor that fueled illegal gambling. Rumour has it that Al Capone and his cohorts were involved in this activity.
More historic buildings on Moose Jaw Main Street.
Canadian Pacific Railway Station opened in 1922 and closed in the 1960’s. Now it operates as a strip mall.
This sign leads to the Sukanen Ship Museum on the Highway #2 south of Moose Jaw. I have a number of photos to share of the museum and will explain the origin of this site in an upcoming post.

I hope you enjoyed the bit of Moose Jaw I had to share today – proof positive that Saskatchewan is not just open skies and barren praire! Next time we go through, I will try to get photos of some of the residential areas and few other landmarks.

Have a great rest of the day! I hope that you have your own special place to contemplate the magic around you!💞

Dan upgraded my meditation space this morning. Our squirrel was so curious about the commotion around his tree that he sat on a branch, a foot away from me, to see who was encroaching on his territory. 💞

July 11 – Miscellaneous Magic

I have experienced so many magical moments in the past few days! Being Sunday, I decided it would be a good day to share some random moments of the week with you.

This little squirrel is a regular visitor to our peanut basket. The magic this morning was that Kat just laid on the back landing and watched him make his way across our neighbours roof, onto our fence, over to our tree, and up the tree to his favourite branch. And she never barked once! Yay Kat!
Cleaning up a back corner of our yard. How magical is it, that weeds produce such pretty flowers?
Sightseeing bus that we saw in Moose Jaw on our way through. (I have a number of magical photos of Moose Jaw to share with you in another post.)
I love this magical little plaque that was mounted in the courtyard of the Cafe Paris in Gravelbourg. So cute and so true!
This is the new highschool in Gravelbourg. It is one of the last projects I worked on before I retired. I helped the architect design and write the specs for several operable partitions. I worked on the tender for the project. I handled the administration for the project when we got the job. AND – my son was one of the installers when the partitions were installed! That is the most magical part of the construction industry, being a part of a project from start to finish and ultimately seeing an amazing building that will stand for generations!
Heading home from Gravelbourg. This highway is such a narrow, winding nightmare. I cannot imagine how happy and relieved people were when it was transformed from a dirt or gravel road into a real paved highway. That must have been pure magic for them!
A magical, monster, metal lily growing beside the Gravelbourg courthouse. (Probably not growing but I don’t remember it being that big.) 🙄

That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed my magical moments and that you had many of your own to cherish this week.

Stay safe and see you tomorrow! 💞

July 10th – Magical Homes

There are any number of unique homes in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. Driving down any street, you are guaranteed to find at least a couple of magical residences. Today, I have photos to share of just a few of my favourite. 💞

Verandahs are everywhere!
How magical is that! This house was built by the local doctor. It is for sale right now for just under 350k.
South Carolina romance in Southern Saskatchewan 💞
This one is showing its age but I love the verandah! (I am pretty sure that my parents best friends used to live in this house.)
A brick house with a verandah! 👍
Pretty magical for a home in small town Saskatchewan!
This home with the adorable rooftop deck has a gorgeous yard!
One summer, I dated a boy who lived in this brick house. We were both sixteen. It was magical! 😂

It is amazing how many fantastic homes there are in Gravelbourg – and how well they have been maintained for generations. I have no idea who designed the early homes in this town or how they had the resources to build them. They obviously had a vision and the determination to carry it out.

As much as the infrastructure of this town has constantly been modernized over the years, I love how they have stayed true to their history. Even the new homes in town have the style and character to blend in with the overall ambiance.

Wishing all another beautiful, magical day! See you tomorrow with more photos from our trip this week. 💞

July 9th – Road Trip!

It was supposed to cool off this week as Dan started a run of five days off. Since it has been more than a few years since I have made a solo trip (or done any highway driving), I asked Dan if he would like to take a magical trip to Gravelbourg with Kat and I. He came, he drove, and we just got back. 👍

Most of the two hour drive to Gravelbourg was relatively uneventful.
The worst part was a little rain between Moose Jaw and the turn off to Gravelbourg. This is always the worst part. This is a narrow, two way traffic, winding road. I have driven it in blizzards, gale force winds, and pouring rain. I have been caught between snowplows, in the middle of heavy construction, surrounded by a herd of pigs, and buzzed by the Airforce ‘Snowbirds’ who put on aerial acrobatic shows.

The main objective of this trip was to visit my parents gravesite, clean up anything that required cleaning and set out some fresh (immitation) flowers, to brighten thing up for them and for both of my sets of grandparents, plus my Uncle Herman who is buried with my parents.

Dan and I had not been back to Gravelbourg since Mother passed away eight years ago. We were both so worried about what kind of a neglected mess we would find at the graveyard, that we drove straight there when we arrived.

Gravelbourg graveyard – the grass is very dry but everything was neat and we’ll maintained.

We were relieved to find everything in fairly good order. In fact the entire town of Gravelbourg looks extremely well kept. The pride that the residents have in their small prairie town is obvious everywhere.

The pandemic has left its mark. There were businesses that are permanently closed. There are also many homes and businesses that are up for sale. Even these properties are well maintained.

The motel we always stayed in is still operating and, thanks to a road construction crew working on the highway to Thompson Lake, it was filled to capacity!
Kat was delighted that she had her own bed! I think we should remodel our spare bedroom as a dedicated ‘Kat’ room. Dan does not share my enthusiasm for the idea.

I took a number of photos in Gravelbourg and on our way through Moose Jaw yesterday. I will share the best in the next few days.

Magical courtyard of the Cafe Paris where we enjoyed a perfect breakfast this morning. Because we chose a table in the beautiful little courtyard, Kat was able to join us. How magical is that!

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful day! Take care and see you tomorrow. 💞

July 8th – Garden Magic

It is so magical to watch our garden grow and change every day!    I could spend all day outside puttering about.  I hope you enjoy the photos, I snapped this morning.  I have to stockpile them for when winter inevitably returns!

Pretty in Pink (Petunia)
Better Boy Tomatoes (Grown from a slice of fresh tomato!)
Hot Peppers
One Perfect Mini Red Pepper
First Little Cucumbers!
Miniature Magic (Just magically grew there!)
Recycled Magic

That is my magic to share for today! Dan is on ‘days off’ so I am off to enjoy his company. 💞

I hope you are having a productive and magical day!