Thar She Blows! Moose Jaw
Maybe 40 years ago now, my brother Jan and I watched a movie called ‘Saskatchewan’. More precisely, if memory serves, it was called Saskatchewan. I don’t remember what compelled us to watch it, but I figure it must have had something to do with us being born and raised in the place.
Artistic license is one thing, but the director’s voices were bordering on criminal. There was nothing at all in the whole movie that resembled anything of the vast, nearly featureless landscapes and immense skies of the prairies. Absent as well were the stunted forests and myriad lakes, rivers, and muskeg swamps that characterize the northern portions of the province.
Like all good cinema, the story was building to an eventual climax. Surely, we both imagined, there would be something at the end to reconcile the title to the stories location and to the plot.
To this day, I can make my brother roar with laughter by busting out ‘Thar she blows! Moose Jaw!’ whenever we arrive at any random destination.
Saskatchewan, the movie, ended with our band of weary, harassed, and near spent travelers cresting a mountain pass and gazing jubilantly into a verdant valley whose slopes where timbered with enormous pines. The valley floor was graced with a wide, gently flowing river whose folds held a small scattered settlement braced against the wildernesses. Smoke drifted lazily into the sky, promising warmth, companionship, and shelter.
Our hero, proudly burst forth ‘Thar she blows! Moose Jaw!’
Now, no matter in what direction you approach the actual place, not a lick of any of those views would remotely resemble that portrayed in the movie. For us, it was the last straw. Incredulity gave way to lunacy and lunacy to unbridled laughter. It was lunacy, in fact, that we laugh about still.
Pounding downhill, my legs on fire and the canoe bucking like some crazed machine against my harness, I rounded a shallow curve and had my first glimpse of Princeton. ‘Thar she blows!’ blew into my mind and I whispered it to no one.
If only Jan were here now. What wouldn’t I give to make him laugh one more time. What wouldn’t I give.