The following are my editorial comments for the Winter 2016-2017 Issue of Folklore Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine and to become a member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, go here and complete this form. Also follow SHFS on Facebook. Cover Photo: At Bascom’s ranch – looking after Claydon 400 horse herd. Eastend. 8 October 1958. Everett Baker Slides.

folklore-winterThis issue of Folklore revolves around the theme of movement and mobility. From the way in which the Saskatchewan environment has affected the province’s development, to human-animal relationships and technological advances that have enabled Saskatchewanians to live in this sometimes challenging climate to the movement of ideas.

As discussed in Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History (an open-access copy of which can be accessed here), Canada is a country that has developed in spite of the challenges imposed by its geography and seasonality. “The natural world,” the editors write, “has influenced Canadians’ patterns of movement, often with greater power and less predictability than they would have preferred.”¹

In this Winter Issue, it seems apropos that winter and the way in which people come together to deal with winter play some of the key roles in many of these stories. Wilmar Shingoose describes one of the vehicles, a caboose, that his Métis community developed to achieve mobility during the roughest parts of winter. Lois (Borland) Lee relates a story in which the difficulties of winter car travel takes centre stage.

Reliance on domesticated animals for both mobility and labour is a common theme in Saskatchewan’s past. Working with animals and moving them to this environment created unique challenges and skill-sets, as demonstrated in Adrian Paton’s yarn about horse tracking. The railway also played a major role in shaping Western Canada. In “My Railway Days” the storyteller illustrates the way in which human movement often puts us in contact and in conflict with wild animals.

Movement westward is another key theme in this issue. The letters of Samuel and Katherine Jolly provide us a window into the intimate experience of an individual who travelled westward for opportunity. Alvin Speers describes his family’s movement westward to farm, their eventual return to Ontario, and the way in which this familial connection put Saskatchewan into his blood.

The settling of Western Canada is not only a story about physical movement, but also about the movement of ideologies, policies, and power dynamics. This resulted in hardship, tragedy, and a need for resilience among Indigenous peoples. It also created a deep-seated divide between East and West Canada. Pulling from newspapers at the time, Keith Foster provides an historical account of the development of “Western Alienation” in the 1880s.

Movement of persons and ideas is not relegated only to within Canada or North America. Saskatchewan is part of a global community and its history reflects this fact. Unfortunately, one of the ways in which world events most closely touch the lives of Saskatchewanians is by way of war. Both Richard Krehbiel’s and Bev Lundahl’s stories encapsulate the anxieties and heartaches that come with war. Krehbiel argues that World War II was as much fought on the homefront, as on the frontline. And Lundahl describes how war and death connected Saskatchewan with far corners of the world, in this case with Bangladesh.

Lastly, this issue also represents movement through time. I organized this issue chronologically, so that as we think about physical movement, we can also think about the way in which Folklore enables stories to move through time, to move the past into the present, and vice versa.

I hope you enjoy the Winter Issue and that it might just jumpstart some of your imaginations to think about the way that movement and mobility has touched your own lives.


¹ Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin Coates. Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History. (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016): 23.

Published by Jessica M. DeWitt

Dr. Jessica M. DeWitt is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States. She is passionate about the use of digital technologies to bridge the gap between the public and researchers. In addition to her community and professional work, she offers various editing and social media consultancy services.

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