Community Developments


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12″ x 16″ Acrylic on stretched canvas

 

Enough time has passed that a generation have reached adulthood without seeing the six grain elevators once situated beside the CNR tracks running through Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Like the majority of elevators on the Canadian prairies, they were decommissioned and demolished years ago.

As a youngster, I often accompanied my Dad when he was hauling grain from our farm located fourteen and a half miles north of the town. Dad had built a wooden box on the back of a  two ton Ford truck and in that, we made the trip. This was a big improvement over the days before my time when my Grandfather and his neighbours used horses and wagons to do the job. Riding in the truck with Dad was always a good time. Occasionally if I was very lucky, Dad would take the time to buy us ice cream cones as a special treat.

Years later, when I had a go at farming, I hauled my own grain from my place five miles further north,  past my Dad’s farm, down through the Big Gully and back up, and on into the town. If I began early in the morning and if everything went well, I could sometimes make three round trips in one day with two hundred bushels of wheat or canola on each load. However, if there was a snag, like a loader that wouldn’t start, or a truck that got stuck, or a line-up causing delays, or a side trip to get machinery repairs, or groceries that needed to be bought, that meant two trips with perhaps enough time at the end of the day to load the truck for an early start the next morning.

With the elevators now gone, grain is hauled by semi-trailer to high through-put elevators located much further away. It has become “big business” – no time for ice cream cone treats for youngsters anymore.

When painting this, I referenced a numbered print drawn by friend and very well respected local artist, Velma Foster. The print hangs in my Mom’s home in Maidstone and brings back memories for me every time  I see it.

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20″ X 16″ Acrylic on canvas $245

In 1910, the first members of a new community made their way north from Oklahoma to Saskatchewan to stake out homesteads in an area north of Maidstone. These African Americans came in response to advertisements from the Canadian government, inviting people to settle and occupy the western part of the area called Canada.

These homesteaders built themselves a place of worship, using locally harvested logs from the nearby North Saskatchewan River valley. A section of the churchyard became the cemetery for the community.

I grew up on a farm three miles west of the Church, on the farm that was started by my grandfather and great grandfather in 1905. The reference for these paintings are photos that I took in 2007 during one of my sojourns to Shiloh.

For more information, read this recent post by Leander Lane, one of the descendants of the original settlers.

Here is another article from the University of Calgary that provides some of the history of the community.

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10″ X 12″ Acrylic on canvas $90

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12″ X 16″ Acrylic on canvas $145

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Bridge City

Some events are just too important to stand by and do nothing, even when we feel that our actions might not change the outcome. This morning, I posted this letter to my Member of Parliament, Hon. Lynne Yelich.

Hon. Lynne Yelich, P.C., M.P.

House of Commons

Ottawa, Canada

April 18, 2013

Dear Ms. Yelich:

This letter has been simmering in my mind for some time, and each time that I witness another of your government’s actions, my temperature rises. The thought that your government is on the verge of signing FIPA, in spite of mounting opposition to it from many fronts, has my blood boiling.

In 2011, I returned to live in Canada after an absence of ten years. The country to which I returned was not the same country that I left and the changes that had taken place are becoming ever more pronounced. With these changes, Canadians can no longer feel pride from living in a peaceable, honourable, democratic country.

As environmental protections are systematically dismantled by legislation rammed through parliament in omnibus bills, this country can no longer consider itself one that demonstrates care for the environment. When taxpayer funded scientific research that could clearly point out flaws in current energy policy is cut and what remains is muzzled by government direction, it is not difficult to see the forces that are influencing such actions.

Canada is no longer a country which can be known to fulfill its commitments and legal obligations. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol. It has withdrawn from various UN programs. The omnibus bills, C-45 and C-36, contain various components that will renege on the treaty obligations which Canada has with First Nations.  Meanwhile, as we are withdrawing from obligations such as these, your government is preparing to sign FIPA, which will obligate future generations in much more costly ways. Unbelievable!!

Recently I signed an online letter to the PM regarding Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. You responded and I thank you for that. Today I signed yet another online letter to the government, this time regarding FIPA. I do not know what you feel about such internet generated letters. If you dismiss them as merely an annoying distraction, I hope that you do so at your own peril when the next election rolls around.

Many ordinary Canadians such as myself are becoming more and more displeased with the cavalier attitude taken by your government which puts the interest of large international corporations, especially those involved in the oil and gas industry, ahead of its own citizens. We are not happy that Canada has become a country which is open to be exploited by corporate raiders in order to enable the extremely wealthy to become even wealthier.

Ms. Yelich, you represent a riding in Saskatchewan. May I remind you that ours is a province that in the past was noted for its generousity of spirit – an example of that is the founding of medicare. And while your political beliefs may not allow you to embrace democratic socialism, I would hope that you will not have forgotten the culture of caring for all that our province has demonstrated in the past. The oil and pipeline companies are NOT your constituents – the citizens of the Blackstrap Riding are.

I urge you to withdraw from further discussions regarding FIPA and that you encourage your fellow Conservative MP’s to join you. I call on you to reinstate the provisions for protecting the environment that were dismantled in Bill C-45. I ask you to ensure that your government make a concerted effort to fulfill the legal obligations to First Nations that were clearly set out by Treaty. Finally, I beg you to have the courage to act in accordance with the tradition of our parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament act in the interests of their constituents and where those interests come before loyalty to a political party or its leader.

Sincerely,

The New Bridge to Cape Three Points

Remember my post about the poor condition of the many bridges which lead to Cape Three Points?

https://villagerainbows.com/2011/01/18/bridging-the-gap/

Well, good news for the folks that live in Cape Three Points and the villages leading to it, as well as for visitors to the area!! The bridge which caused so many problems has been repaired and is now open for use by the public. Thanks to Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority.

In January, I posted an item about the bad state of repair of the bridges on the road to Cape Three Points.  Well, I have some bad news and some good news. First the bad news – the wooden bridge collapsed again and the road is closed as a result. And now the GOOD NEWS – the bridge is being repaired!!! Stay posted for updates and don’t be surprised if the people of Chauvine, New Akwadae and Cape Three Points hold their own ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion!!!

Bicycles have long been used as a means of transportation in Africa. Here in Ghana, the use of  bicycles was first introduced into the northern parts of the country with working bicycles made in China but they have also become popular in the southern regions, with an assortment of used bikes imported from Europe and North America.

Biking has taken on a new dimension with the first Mountain Biking Festival held in the Western Region on the weekend of February 19 and 20. Seventeen teams from villages including and near Akwadae and Cape Three Points competed on Saturday over a 5 kilometer course set through the rubber tree plantation near the village of Aluaso. On Sunday a 2o kilometer social ride was organized through the countryside with locals and visitors enjoying the scenery and exercise. For future events, check the website: http://www.ghanawestcoastmountainbiking.com

Not up to the load

Recently the Chief of Cape Three Points was asked by a visitor to outline the needs of his community. His answer was quick and unwavering – electricity for the village, and an accessible all weather road for the area.

For some folks here in Ghana, the name “Cape Three Points” is synonymous with oil and riches, but for people like myself who frequently visit the village that gave the offshore oilfield its name, the name conjures up respect for the resiliency and good humour of its citizens. For far too long, they have been isolated from their share of the improving economics of the country because of the poor condition of the road which leads in and out of their area.

The author with Nana, the author's son, and a visitor

From where one leaves the pavement on the Agona/Dixcove branch, the dirt road is dusty and extremely rough in the dry season, and muddy and often impassable for anything other than the most robust four wheel drive vehicle when it rains. There are countless streams, lagoons and low lying areas to pass over and through on the way to Cape Three Points and just as many bridges of various types and in different states of repair. Any one of them could prevent someone from completing their journey in or out of the village, emergency or not.

One of these bridges is no more than some logs straddling the banks of the stream with planks placed on top. The planks have given out on several occasions (see photos above and below) and loaded trucks have fallen through, blocking the way until such time as the drivers find a way of getting them back on the road. The bridge is “repaired”, awaiting the next time that it is not capable of withstanding a load that crosses it, and the cycle is repeated.

In a change of policy that is ostensibly intended to support and encourage tourism, the Government of Ghana moved routes which lead to important tourism destinations out of the Feeder Roads category into the Highways category. To date, that has done little to permanently improve to road to Cape Three Points even though the area is home to many tourist attractions including a forest that is unique enough to be categorized for its “Significant World Class Biodiversity”. Word reached the village this week that Highways is coming to grade the road and that will be most welcome, but it does not address the issue of bridges.

Fuel tanker stranded after breaking through the bridge planks... again!

The issue of bridges on the road to Cape Three Points is not a new one. A couple years ago the news media carried a story about a bridge being “destroyed” by displeased youth from one of the villages on that road. The media was not accurate in its portrayal of the circumstances – the bridge did not exist and the youth were doing their best to draw the attention of the public to the sorry state of affairs on their road and others in the area. And in December a delegation of Chiefs from the Western Region met unsuccessfully with Parliament to discuss the need for improved infrastructure, including roads and bridges, for their area.

The time is long overdue for the matter to be addressed in a meaningful way and for proper access be provided for the people and villages in the Cape Three Points area.

Another broken plank in a bridge of promises

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