I know intellectually Saskatchewan is a big province (it’s only slightly smaller than Texas, and you know the old rhyme about that: “The sun done riz, the sun done set, and we ain’t outta Texas yet!”) (OK, maybe you didn’t know that old rhyme, but now you do.) Still, you get a really good feel for it driving north, because the province is much taller than it is wise. So, I drove roughly northwest from Regina about 580 kilometres today to get to Meadow Lake, and I know darn well that about half the province still lies to the north of here.
If I’ve ever been here before it was with the late lamented Prairie Opera well over ten years ago, and frankly the drive from North Battleford looked completely unfamiliar–but spectacular: “Land of Living Skies,” our provincial motto, in full effect with a fascinating variety of clouds, patches of sun on snow-covered hills, frozen lakes reflecting the light, and the startling discovery of a lighthouse on a hill outside Cochin (the only lighthouse in Saskatchewan!).
The reading/presentation at the Meadow Lake library went well. There were at least a dozen people there, which isn’t bad (I only had one at my reading at World Fantasy, remember!), and they seemed to enjoy my talk. I basically blathered on about myself (my favorite topic) and my writing for half an hour, then read my Saskatchewan-set ghost story “The Wind,” then answered questions. An hour went by in a flash and then there were snacks and coffee. Oh, and I sold three copies of Marseguro. So all in all, a successful trip! (Sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, of course.)
Tomorrow, of course, I have to make the long drive back. But it was still worth it.
P.S. Oh, all right, since you insist. Here’s the story of the lighthouse:
The famous Cochin Lighthouse with its rotating beacon light is perched atop Pirot’s Hill on the northern side of Cochin. As a major tourist attraction, visitors hike 158 steps to reach the top of the 11.5-metre structure and the observation deck. In true lighthouse fashion, its rotating beacon light is visible for miles around. Serving no seafaring purpose, the lighthouse is a fascinating landmark on the prairies providing a spectacular view of the many lakes, beaches, and resorts in the area.
Tom Archdekin, the first Mayor of Cochin, initiated construction of the lighthouse as a tourism project in 1988. On November 23, 1988, a committee was formed to plan the prairie structure. Enthusiastically supported by the Village Council, the Provincial Community Tourism Assistance Program, and the Pirot family the project received approval in March of 1989. Don Pirot, landowner, requested that the 150-foot land rise lighthouse site be named Pirot Hill. With a collective effort and in the true spirit of ‘community’, local residents erected the magnificent structure and built a walkway to the Cochin Lighthouse. It is the only lighthouse to be found in Saskatchewan.