We stop at the Yvette Moore Gallery to see her depictions of prairie life, past and present. Her paintings appear as illustrations in three soft cover children’s books. The first, A Prairie Alphabet, has sold 330,000 copies.
Next stop is the Chocolate Moose Fudge Factory and Craft Market. The items on sale range from prairie nostalgia to the kind of humour that used to cause embarrassed snickers among young people. Chris buys some note cards featuring sketches of small town Saskatchewan. We bypass the fudge and opt for the gelato. I have a waffle cone with a scoop of maple walnut gelato and a scoop of saskatoon berry gelato. It is absolutely delicious.
The Canadays apparel factory in Moose Jaw makes men’s pants sold in men’s clothing stores across the country at $55 to $95. There is a factory outlet in a poorly marked, rundown warehouse on River Street, only open Thursday to Saturday, which sells these pants for $18.95 to $22.95. Some are marked that they have material or sewing flaws, but I can always find perfectly good pants in the mix.
There are museums, the burrowing owl interpretive centre, the world’s oldest statue of Winston Churchill and many places to shop and to dine. We are here to get away from the busyness of life for a few days, so the parks are a big attraction.
Moose Jaw doesn’t only hold memories of the past, it is home to many relatives and friends. We get together with some of them during the three days we spend here, usually over coffee at a Tim Horton’s. Once, we arrange to meet one cousin and his wife and encounter two other cousins who just happen to be at the same Tim Horton’s.
Many impressive church buildings are found throughout the city. St Andrews United Church, a massive stone building, its towers making it one of the tallest buildings in the city, is just across the street from our hotel. Thirty-five years ago they called it St Andrews Centre for Contemporary Worship. At Aunt Katherine’s funeral, the minister said, “Let us pray,” and recited a poem. There was no mention of God, no amen. When he spoke of eternal life, it was the memories retained by others of the dear departed. Now they again call it a church and the words spoken inside probably sound more churchy, but I doubt that the beliefs are much different.
The city once contained four Anglican churches. Three have closed, including St Barnabas where Chris and I were married forty years ago. Regal Heights Mennonite Brethren church, which we attended a few years later, stands empty. Large new Evangelical and Pentecostal churches are full every Sunday; numerous smaller groups meet in rented quarters.
There are so many churches, so many efforts have been made by so many different groups to share the gospel. I have memories of some of the evangelistic and revival meetings held in this city in past years. The gospel was preached, with adaptations to make it palatable to the greatest number of people. But where in this city are there people who are living the full message of the gospel, who know the true peace and freedom that the gospel brings? Have people been told, or better yet shown, what that message is?
(Written in 2010)