TRAVELS THROUGH MR. PALLISER’S TRIANGLE
Although many would claim it to be the most boring drive imaginable, we always see something interesting in our long drives across the flat lands of Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Recently we saw a huge herd of Pronghorn Antelope – perhaps 200 or more– slowly walking across a pasture near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. We usually see smaller groups of these rugged animals, who prefer the wide-open spaces of the short-grass prairie. On the return leg of the same trip we saw a smaller herd of Pronghorns and a herd of about 200 elk near Medicine Hat, Alberta.
On a trip several years ago we saw a mother Pronghorn and her baby chasing a coyote – and the coyote looked scared. On other trips we’ve seen moose, deer, hawks, owls and vast flocks of shore birds.
The Palliser Triangle, a large area of prairie in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan was named after John Palliser, who led a survey of Western Canada, starting in 1857. His work took 12 years. He felt the dry, treeless land would not support agriculture.
How wrong he was. Hundreds of farmers grow wheat on hundreds of thousands of acres. Ranchers raise thousands of head of cattle. This area is so vast and the land is so productive that it always feels to me that it should be able to feed the world.
But it is a harsh place, too. We drove through -36 C (without windchill) near Duff, Saskatchewan then watched the mercury rise to -4 C near Saskatchewan’s border with Alberta. On a trip last summer, the temperature reached 37 C in Swift Current.