“Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as ….. as a fiddler on the roof!”
Today’s guest blog post is written by a dear friend of mine who’s way with words always brings smiles and tugs at heart strings in her Christmas missive. When I conceived of these 150 guest blogs about National Parks I knew instantly that Janice would be a perfect pick for a post about Prince Albert National Park.
Her blog post about Prince Albert National Park hinges on the consistency that goes back half a century. The ties that bind in a setting that relaxes the soul but fills the body with all that great food!
Tradition is what takes us to Waskesiu every June for a wonderful, relaxing, reconnecting weekend with some fabulous friends. Ron and Wanda have been in our lives for over 40 years. During that time, they have shared many of our triumphs and our sorrows, they know us well. Each spring we plan out our meals: both couples manage a breakfast and a supper, with one evening to eat out, and the other breakfast to eat up our leftovers before heading home. Wanda’s breakfast menu never changes – it is her tradition and we respect, honour and appreciate as being a part of her family history. She uncovers her electric skillet so Ron can cook the bacon to perfection
before she begins her eggs,
hash browns and toast for our breakfast meal – which, if you can imagine the fragrance of aspen and pine, marrying the tantalizing scent of bacon as if wafts through the trees. It is always a treat to look forward to. By-the-way, this is exactly the reason we are here in Waskesiu.
When growing up, Wanda’s family (consisting of Mom, Dad and 5 children) would head up to Waskiesu for their holidays. Wanda’s Grandparents would join them from Prince Albert, as well as a few tag along aunts, uncles and cousins, making it a bit of a family reunion. Grandma and Grandpa would usually rent one of the small, one room, Baker’s Cabins.
These rustic white cabins are a mainstay of the town, and have been there for many years – changing hands a few times, but the name stays the same because of tradition! For breakfast, they would pull out their skillet (guaranteed it was not electric back then!), and somehow manage to produce bacon and eggs for the whole troupe! This was one of Wanda’s early family traditions, that has been passed down to the next generation, and beyond!
Greg and I joined Ron and Wanda some time ago when our boys were younger.
We have such fabulous memories of bathing the boys in the sink of the small cabins, sitting out on the deck playing Keiser as the little ones slept, eating decadent food like chocolate covered peanuts, playing on the beach, swatting horseflies and savouring ice cream cones piled high with goodness. And the walks! My goodness the miles we have put on by checking out the familiar sights of the town
each visit, hoping (not) to encounter some bear or other wildlife on our travels as we try to catch all of the places that sell ice cream in one trip! The scenery is always absolutely stunning!
These are just some of the unforgettable reflections that are tucked away in our filing cabinet of thoughts to be treasured forever.
Ron, Wanda, Greg and I have become Grandparents this past year, which is just the beginning of another wonderful change in our lives. Our little boys have grown into amazing young men and are starting to branch out and form their own traditions and memories. It has been over 10 years since the four of us have headed up to Prince Albert National Park for our annual Waskesiu weekends. I am glad that we do not take the time to count the calories we have consumed, the games we have played, the laughs and stories that we have shared in that time, because the number would be astronomical!
I do know that we appreciate, and are thankful that tradition is a part of our lives – which gives us the permission to take the time for bonding and cherishing those that are most important to us.
Take the time to find you own traditions and enjoy the journey.
A quick bit of background on the park: Prince Albert National Park encompasses close to 1,500 square miles in central Saskatchewan and is located about 120 miles north of Saskatoon. It was declared a national park on March 24, 1927. This year-round park offers a diverse collection of wildlife including bison, bear ((Editor’s Note — of which Janice is terrified of seeing so we know she didn’t take the photo)),
and timber wolves, as well as almost 200 species of birds. There are numberous lakes to swim, fish, boat, canoe, icefish and skate on, with trails to hike, ski and horseback ride through depending upon the season you are visiting in. Inside the park, you will find Waskesiu Lake which was an early Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade post between 1886 and 1893. Just south of the town site, you will find one of the oldest golf course in Western Canada, the Waskesiu Golf Course which opened in 1935, and still hosts one of the largest match play events in North America. A unique Lobstick Tree, which greets golfers right in the middle of the first fairway, is so named by First Nations groups that would traditionally remove the middle branches of spruce trees to produce a “Lobstick Tree” which would then be used as navigational markers.
This park is also home to the cabin of renowned naturalist and conservationist Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney).