To say that I've covered a lot of ground in this job of mine would be an understatement.
After all, I certainly have the years, don't I? I've been the local 'roving reporter' now for over 14 years, covering all the goings-on and what's happening in Outlook and in communities that dot the landscape of this beautiful, one-of-a-kind regional area.
Along with that extensive history, what comes with it is an intimate knowledge of this area and the communities that make up this west central portion of the province. I'm fortunate to have such know-how in towns and villages across the region, but it all came from experience. Speaking of experience, I wanted to point out one community in particular that always seems to leave me feeling nostalgic whenever I'm called upon to cover something in the area. As a result, this nostalgia allows me to take a look back on all the good times had and all the memorable moments shared. It's a good feeling, and now more than ever these days, I'm all in as far as good feelings.
That community I want to highlight here would be the village of Dinsmore. You see, places such as Dinsmore cause me to remember all the good things about my hometown of Conquest when I was going to school. It's really incredible when you think about it. Here we have Dinsmore, population roughly 300, and even in 2021, it has managed to live and breathe, even thrive as its own community area. Don't get me wrong, there are still some empty buildings on Main Street, but the community has seemed to find a way to maintain its identity and continuing offering services that one should be able to find in other communities of similar size.
Dinsmore reminds me of the Conquest that I grew up in, and that time brings with it so many memories.
Like track & field days at Conquest School. Oh man, those were the best. They were always held on a Friday in late May, making for an early start to the weekend. Our school would welcome students from others in the area, maybe because the large and open field at Conquest was freaking huge. Ball throw, shot put, long jump, the place was just a bevy of activity. It would soon be about 3:00, you'd get your ribbon for whatever you placed, you'd grab a Freezie with a few friends, and then you'd walk home for the weekend. Good times.
Like busy nights at the Conquest rink. Who are the boys playing tonight? Outlook? Rosetown? Beechy? It could've been anyone and the time would be spent the same way: watching from upstairs behind the glass in the filled bleachers, listening to people go, 'Ooooo! OOOHHH!!!' with every hit on the ice and every shot that was THIS CLOSE. In between periods, it was commonplace to head over to the kitchen for something to eat. My favorites out of that Conquest rink kitchen? Chicken fingers or the best rink burger found anywhere in Saskatchewan. Why such a boisterous claim, you ask? It's my mom's recipe, and my mom could do no wrong in the kitchen.
Great memories of years gone by.
I'll tell you what sparked this trip down Memory Lane. See, because we've been living under the COVID era for the last 15 months or so, it's caused schools to rethink how they approach certain events, and in this case, high school graduation ceremonies. Dinsmore Composite School's graduating Class of 2021 wanted to incorporate their hometown community residents into their big day, so the school held a parade on a Friday evening at suppertime. This was the school's second grad parade, the first being held last year. And just like last year, it did nothing but put a great big smile on everyone's face, mine included.
With events like this, I saw one thing predominantly stand out above everything else - community spirit.
Spirit such as this, when the rest of the world is preoccupied with every little nugget and morsel of data when it comes to a virus, is easy to get swept up in. The grads all gussied up in their suits and dresses, seated in the back of a just-washed car or truck, and joining the lineup with everybody else to put on a rolling, motorized show for everyone, bringing us all together in their moment of graduation and anticipating that next step in life.
It's events such as this that make me happy to do what I do for a living because you'd only see something like this in small communities. The bigger city areas? Not so much. Something would just get lost in the shuffle and it would lose its rural, appealing charm. Let those big urban areas play with all their money and their endless resources. We got just about everything we need around here to have a good time and make a handful of graduating students stand out in their community. We're good, thanks.
It's the presence of the school that serves as the lifeblood to the village of Dinsmore, or at least heavily contributes to its existence. We have to learn not to take schools for granted. Once they're gone, that equates to a critical hit to any community and it may be left scrambling, picking up the pieces to try and match what it was before at another time.
And it's not just Dinsmore that's still benefiting from the existence of their school. I see a lot of the same enthusiasm and community spirit in places such as Kenaston and Loreburn, where their schools are still standing and still going. I love seeing that.
So, with that, I just wanted to take this week's column space to give a mighty thumbs up to the residents of the village of Dinsmore and the students and staff of Dinsmore Composite School. It's amazing to see the small town spirit in communities like yours is so overwhelmingly positive. Keep up the good work.
Oh, and congratulations on graduating! As far as all of your futures go, I wish you nothing but the best, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Thanks for reminding me of yesteryear. Good times, indeed.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.