The Ruttle Report - Another Upcoming 'Prairie Adventure'

I know I’m jumping the gun by saying this because we’re only in the first week and change of April, but I can’t wait for the much warmer weather to arrive.

Did I just jinx us all by saying that and referencing a desire for warm weather?  Are we going to get another three-inch dump of snow again now?

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If so, my bad.  Fingers crossed that spring is here to stay for good this time.  How weird was it to have that blanket of snow on April 1 last week?  Nice April Fool’s joke, Mother Nature, but no one laughed.

You might remember a column I wrote last year where I described my intentions for a ‘Prairie Perception Project’, in which I spoke of my desire to visit locations and places in our lovely province here that I’d never ventured to before.

Well, I did just that last summer, motoring to places such as the T.Rex Discovery Centre down in Eastend, and finally making my way down to Moose Jaw to take in the infamous tunnels.

I guess that was Part One, because I intend to do so once again this year.

I should probably divulge where this renewed love of and desire to re-explore my home province comes from, and seeing how I’m such a TV addict, it should come as no surprise that it’s because of a show that I started watching last summer to which I became instantly addicted.

Have you heard of the CBC reality program, ‘Still Standing’?  If not, you’re missing out.  The show follows comedian & actor Jonny Harris (of ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ fame) as he visits small, out of the way communities across Canada that have faced hardships and economical difficulties, but are ‘still standing’ to this day thanks to the perseverance of residents to continue preserving their town or village’s heritage for future generations.

Harris spends each episode interacting with local residents doing a number of activities, and in every location that he visits, he performs a stand-up comedy set for the community in which he shares anecdotes of his time spent there.

I know it’s a very simple formula on paper – jokester visits small towns and yucks it up with residents – but in my view it’s the best show on TV that truly celebrates small town Canadiana; going out of its way to highlight what everyday Canadians are doing to contribute to the way of life for their respective communities.

You watch an episode of how some town or village in Alberta or Ontario came back from the brink of extinction to flourish and put itself back on the map, and you definitely become inspired, and even grateful to live where you live.

So, this summer I’m taking a page out of the show’s playbook and putting another focus on visiting places that I’ve never been.  I already plan on visiting two Saskatchewan communities that the show has spotlighted, Maple Creek and Radisson.  I’m especially interested in motoring to Radisson, where apparently there is a really cool rock and mineral museum that is owned, curated and operated by a 14-year old kid!

I’m not kidding!  Watch the episode and see for yourself!

What else do I have planned over the coming months?

Well, just as I did last year when I drove down to Eastend, I’m once again channeling my inner dinosaur nerd this year.  With this goal in mind, one town I plan to visit is Drumheller, which has basically made its name over the past quarter century by embracing its prehistoric roots and calling itself Canada’s ‘Dinosaur Valley’.

I remember going to Drumheller once or twice as a young kid, but those are the kind of memories that seep away with the sands of time, and my recollections of being in the town are vague.  Well, aside from my dad once asking a local restaurant waitress if I could keep a wonton soup spoon that I thought looked pretty nifty at the time, and her saying yes because, well, as my mom can attest, Jack Ruttle could be one charming individual when he needed to be, or in this case, when he just wanted one of his kids to be quiet and tolerable on a family vacation.

As far as the rest of my itinerary over the spring and summer, I’m open to suggestions.  Is there some restaurant somewhere that makes the absolute best *something*?  A unique, out of the way spot that makes for incredible landscape photos?  I’m open to any and all suggestions!  I expect to put on a lot of miles and get out there to see some memorable things and visit some incredible places!

Because if you’re not out there experiencing your own form of ‘unique Canadiana’, what exactly *are* you doing with your spring and summer months?

For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.

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