Tag Archives: Moose Jaw

Three Stories From Way Back

Three short stories on this April day as we enjoy all the Canadian teams in the playoffs.

Beef cattle, farm pond, Oklahoma

My friend and I (he doesn’t like me talking about him so I’ll just call him Fred), stuck out our thumbs in Vancouver back in the fall of 1969 and began to slowly make our way across the country to Orillia.

Late at night in Swift Current we hopped on a boxcar and rode for several hours until we saw the lights of Moose Jaw in the distance. We’d been warned that if yard security caught us we would end up in jail and that would’ve sucked, so we needed to jump off before the train reached the end.

As we began to slow down, Fred said we should jump and off he went, right into a cow pond that got him drenched from head to toe and smelling like a sewage plant.

About twenty seconds later, the train came to a complete stop and I walked off.



My friends and I used to drink Four Aces sherry (95 cents) and other such marvels, down in the bush with the hobos. These old hobos would sit in their clearing deep in the forest, grumbling and cursing but not really talking a lot, with their campfire burning and bottles emptying, and we’d join them because it was safe as we were usually underage at that time.

After guzzling my Four Aces on one of these visits, I threw up and staggered out of Hobo Jungle, but minutes later realized that I’d lost my false tooth and plate. So I staggered back through the bush in complete darkness, and somewhere along the line put my hand down on the ground.

Although I couldn’t see a thing and was blind drunk, my hand landed right on my false tooth.



In grade ten my school organized a class trip to Ottawa, but students had to have half-decent marks to qualify.

I didn’t qualify.

But I really wanted to go on the class trip, so I rounded up my friend Craig Ortiz and we hitchhiked there instead.

At the start, just outside of Orillia, we hid in the ditch as the school buses with all those students who were smarter than me passed us, but because we were lucky with rides, we beat those buses to Ottawa. At the Lord Elgin Hotel, where they were checking in, we surprised everyone and were allowed by the teachers to sleep on the floor of someone’s room.

It was good fun I think, but hitchhiking back sucked and Craig and I ended up at the Lindsay police station where we asked a cop if we could sleep in a cell that night because it was freezing cold, and he obliged.

Back at school, Craig and I were each given a month’s detention.



Pure Prairie Sailing

Canadiens won 3-1 in Carolina on Monday night, with goals from Jiri Sekac, Lars Eller, and Max Pacioretty. Max now has 14 in 36 games, which, over 82 games, would amount to……………….quite a bit. More than 30. (You thought I was going to do the math?)

A few things to note:

Lucy, Teesha, and I went from Kenora to Moose Jaw today (860 km), and it’s a tad chilly. Down around minus-25 all day, and -35 or -40 during the night. The car windows never truly cleared all day.

But the roads are dry, which is all I care about. And the price of gas is around 90 cents a litre right now, which is also cool.

I know it’s not nearly over, but so far this drive. that began in Montreal, has been, aside from the three hour snowstorm from the Soo to Wawa, dry roads and smooth sailing. But Calgary tomorrow, then through the Rockies the next day, and who knows what’s in store? Maybe we’ll see a sasquatch.

Moose Jaw TV showed the Winnipeg-Minnesota game and the Canada-Finland World Junior game, but no Habs, which brings to me to the big question. When I reach the coast and am phoning around about getting cable connected, what’s the best option for seeing the Canadiens?

This paragraph is about Teesha the Wonder Cat. Two weeks ago she was near death. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, couldn’t move. Now I feel she’s at about 70% overall. Her walking isn’t great and she won’t drink water voluntarily, but other than that, she’s doing great and we’re mighty proud of her.

Tomorrow we stay with my son Rory in Calgary. Then it’s Banff, Lake Louise, Golden, Rogers Pass, and Kamloops, but only if the weather cooperates. After that, Vancouver, then up coast.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Right now I’m only concerned about the car starting in the morning.



Crisp Kenora

Blue sky, sunny day, and dry roads meant taking advantage of the situation. So we drove 948 km. from Wawa to Kenora.

Awesome drive. But we didn’t see any moose, which disappointed me. However, if the roads are as nice tomorrow as they were today, we might not see moose but we’ll see Moose Jaw.

A bit of a slight chill in the air here in Kenora, -28 in fact. (-36 with the wind chill).

Prairies coming up.

Below, Teesha the cat.


Moose Jawing


Pittsburgh has signed Evgeni Malkin to an 8-year, 76-million dollar contract extension, which works out to 9.5 million a year until the time he becomes 34. By then he should have enough money to buy a medium-sized country and make himself king.

I wonder at what point does a young fellow go from being relatively normal to letting money like that change him forever. When money becomes almost meaningless, where to buy a luxury car or three doesn’t even put a dent in the wallet. And where without even trying, can’t relate anymore to any of his old friends from the pool hall or local zabegalovka who make fifteen or twenty bucks an hour.

I’m guessing it happens without warning to the majority of these guys, who can’t spend it fast enough. Two-week paychecks fat enough to buy a house with cash, or live in 5-star hotels all summer. Imagine – with just one two-week paycheck. Yes I”m jealous, if that’s what you’re thinking.

We’ve stopped for the night in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. What a great name. An iconic name. Mentioned in books, movies, and comedy bits.

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

I love the prairies. I don’t find them boring at all as we make our way through. Beautiful, clean highways with subtle curves. Rolling hills and farmers’ fields. The sky as big as can be.

My only disappointment is it seems the old, classic grain elevator has mostly become a thing of the past. There’s a big, slightly newer one in the photo, but the smaller ones you used to see seem to be gone now. Or maybe I just have to take some side roads to see them.

I don’t have time. Boston Pizza is right next door to where we are and we’re about to pay them a visit.

Moose Jaw has tunnels underneath that were originally built for workers to move about without going outside in the winter. Later, Chinese immigrants would live in them, and soon after that, Al Capone apparently did some bootlegging through them during U.S. prohibition. They have tours.

We’re not going to see them either. 🙂

Years ago, me and four buddies were down in the park in Orillia and met an older fellow we called Swan Balls, who was drunk and leaving his wife and driving to Vancouver the next morning. We volunteered to go with him and he agreed for some reason.

The six of us made it to Vancouver and lived there for a couple of months, at which point Swan Balls came to his senses and announced he wasn’t going to pay the rent and buy food and smokes for us anymore, and was flying back to his wife. Which meant we had to hitchhike back to Orillia.

Frank and I teamed up and made it to Swift Current, Sask., where we hopped a freight train going east and had a fine ride until we saw the lights of Moose Jaw coming up. Getting busted by a yard bull wouldn’t be good, so we decided to jump off the train before it rolled into the yard. Frank jumped first and landed in some sort of shallow cow pond, making him wet and smelling like a sewage plant. Fifteen feet later the train stopped and I walked off, dry as a bone.

Frank still hates to be reminded of this.