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At the time of its creation in 1905, the province of Saskatchewan was considered as alien to the development of arts as the surface of the moon. With a provincial economy based on agricultural production and resource extractions such as petroleum, forestry and minerals, the “square” province seemed a very unlikely base for the development of artistic sensibility or belles-lettres.

But geography, as well as history, is an eccentric determinant of culture, and it appears that this most inhospitable of climates and most challenging of landscapes have produced an artistic harvest that in a scant hundred years has made Saskatchewan home to a most original and lively regional culture.

What is distinctive about Saskatchewan culture? First, it is informed by two unique geophysical features. The primary one is the flatness of the prairie landscape, particularly in the southern half of the province; this is associated with the unrelieved horizontal plane of perception that exaggerates the intensity of the sky. As might be expected, this geographical feature, with its implications of openness and solitude, has left a distinct impression on the Saskatchewanian psyche. The second feature, no doubt related to the flatness, is its extreme climate, a climate that rages through the seasons in crescendos of natural violence that include blizzards, droughts, tornados, floods, dust-storms, frost, heat, and cataclysmic thunderstorms - weather of constant and turbulent change. Nature in Saskatchewan is relentlessly threatening, and barely tolerant of human life. Such a landscape and climate naturally discouraged more people than it attracted, but many did become attracted as time went on. The people who sought their future in “The Land of Living Skies” were inclined to be enterprising groups and literal risk-takers, such as Sioux and Blackfoot hunting nomads from the south, Métis buffalo hunters from the Red River valley, or European colonists who arrived with visions of establishing utopian communities.

Excerpt from Encyclopaedia of Saskatchewan.



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