US, UK & Canada — How Hard Is the Recession Really Hitting Us?

US, UK, Canada and the RecessionBecause I work for clients throughout the globe, I’m often asked if the recession has hit us hard here in Canada. I’d like to say yes, but as an outsider watching the US economy and the world as a whole, I’m really not so sure. It has certainly affected us, I don’t think anyone is exempt from it entirely, but I certainly don’t think it has crippled us the way it has so many others.

US and the Recession

The US as a whole seems to have been hit really hard. People are going homeless by the droves, homes are sitting empty, and don’t even get me started on the banks and auto industry. Entire states are going broke and there seems to be no end to the fallout. It’s no surprise that low-income families are feeling the brunt of things and children are experiencing a higher level of stress.

Not everything seems to be going horribly wrong there, however. Some industries seem to be doing quite well. Some people who were fortunate enough to play their cards right also seem to be profiting quite nicely.

UK, Ireland, Europe, and the Rough Economic Waters

Across the big pond, you don’t seem to notice the people dumping their Irish credit cards too quickly or going sour on their mortgages. Their systems have undoubtedly tightened up, but it doesn’t seem to be too serious, or at least not to the point that people becoming homeless like they are in the US. Everyone there seems to be making it through relatively unscathed with a few adjustments in the way they’re doing things.

People seem to travel just as much including the Irish, reward credit cards in hand, having a good time. Of course, many are staying a little closer to home, or going less frequently, but overall, it seems unaffected. Shopping seems alive and well, the housing market has slowed down a bit, but all in all, pretty good.

Canada and the Current Economy

Canada has survived in about the same manner as Europe and the UK. We’ve seen a bit of a slump, but not like the US. Yes, some people here have lost their jobs and their homes, but Saskatchewan has also created a record number of jobs to give it the lowest unemployment rate in the country. In my own copywriting business, I’ve experienced exponential growth because everyone seems to be moving to the Internet either for improved marketing or just to start a business and a new income stream.

Our retail industry is slow, but not as bad as you’d think. Everyone seems to be finding a way to make ends meet. People are changing their spending habits, and considering how out of control this seemed to be, it’s certainly for the better. Those who don’t, well, they’ll figure it out eventually.

I’ve seen entire towns continue to spend until the money dried up then attempt to defend themselves when taxpayers started getting angry. Germany has also seemed to discover what happens when you gamble a little too much.

The way I see it, we’ll all learn and rise from the ashes. Some just take a little longer than others.

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Qu’appelle River Valley — Where The Land Tells You Its Own Story

Fort Qu'appelle 1910

Fort Qu’appelle 1910

Dividing the province of Saskatchewan from Lake Diefenbaker to the mouth of the great Assiniboine River in Manitoba, the stunning Qu’appelle River (link has a great video of the area!) and its beautiful valley has been the center of many Saskatchewan lives for centuries.

One look and you’ll be in awe of the lay of the land while the kids will be screeching ‘go faster, go faster’ from the back seat. It is definitely the highlight of many road trips.

Qu’appelle Valley — Its History

Historically, both the Hudson’s Bay Company (known as ‘The Bay’ today) as well as the North West Company, which had a post at Fort Esperance, used the river as early as 1781 and 1819 respectively. As a main trading route, many of the goods throughout Canada and Europe during those years came down this river.

The Qu’appelle River Valley was also an important location for the area’s Cree people. The legend says, as a warrior was crossing Echo Lake, he heard a voice call his name. He answered the call by yelling back ‘Qu’appelle’ or ‘who calls’ or ‘who is calling’. The sound he heard was that of his princess who called his name with her dying breath. Many still say they can hear the calls of the two lovers today. (Lebret, Saskatchewan is said to be the best spot for echoes.)

Qu’appelle Valley — The Land

The Qu'appelle Valley near Cutarm, Saskatchewan, circa 1910

The Qu’appelle Valley near Cutarm, Saskatchewan, circa 1910

The valley was created just after the last ice age. The result of runoff from the glaciers, the fertile land is brimming with native vegetation. Some of the species here are unique to Saskatchewan and the world in some cases. In fact, the area is one of Saskatchewan’s most ecologically sensitive regions.

The water system links Katepwa, Echo, Mission, Pasqua, Round, and Crooked Lakes that come to life from May long weekend until September long weekend. There are tons of places to camp and different events to attend throughout the season. Hiking in the area is fantastic and there are some amazing fishing opportunities all year around.

For me, however, it isn’t the destination that intrigues me as much as the drive. Tons of little back roads and main highways will take you across the river, but they all seem to have one thing in common:

As you approach the valley, you can almost tell something is coming. The roads take you up and down soft river hills and past farmyards that give you a glimpse of life on the farm. My personal favorites are the abandoned farmhouses long since forgotten, but still standing triumphantly against the horizon telling their stories to anyone who will listen.

All of a sudden, you find yourself at the top of a hill and the road all but disappears. You are looking at the hills in the distance (a couple of miles in many spots) with the Qu’appelle River twisting its way through the rugged terrain below. You can see how the water has cut into the land revealing earth than hasn’t been seen for thousands of years. It is like standing on the edge of a cliff and going over knowing you’ll land safely at the bottom.

I will tell you that my favorite ones are the little gravel roads. They have a certain rustic feel that plays my romantic heartstrings and temporarily appeases my hunger for history and culture. Some even wind along the side of the river valley and take you on a quiet scenic tour not many see.

However, I recommend that you not take any of the less traveled roads without knowing for certain which ones to take. Not that you’ll suddenly find yourself without a road at the top of a cliff, but many of them do not take you across the river. You can get lost easily, and with little to no traffic and few farms along the way, it could be a bit tricky finding help. Also, the deep valley also means that cell phone service is patchy at best.

For more information about the area, check out Virtual Saskatchewan’s entry on the Qu’appelle Valley.

(Dedicated to the 4 most loyal readers ever. You guys are the best!)

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Willow Bunch – Sitting Bull: Historic Saskatchewan Travel Destinations

Willowbunch, Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Travel Destinations: Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Originally called “Talle-de-Saules,” the town of Willow Bunch is a must see travel destination in the heart of Southern Saskatchewan, Canada. The Metis were the first to settle in the area in 1870 and are the subject of several amazing culture and historic sites in the area. The Willow Bunch region is loaded with interesting attractions that tell the story of Saskatchewan from ancient petroglyphs and artifacts to the early life of settlers.

If you would like to learn about a great Saskatchewan mystery during your travels, head to St. Victor Petroglyph Park a short drive from Willow Bunch. The beautiful park is home to fascinating petroglyphs made on the top of a cliff. No one knows who made the drawings into the stones, but they know that they have to be from 500 AD or earlier because of artifacts that were discovered at the same location.

Another great part of the mystery is why the petroglyphs were drawn. Some people believe the area was used in various religious ceremonies while others think it may have been a place of communication between tribes. Maybe you can solve the mystery. Take a guided tour of the area and enjoy the surrounding view, or take a tour of the park adjacent to the petroglyphs that tells the history of the North West Mounted Police.

Be sure to leave room in your Saskatchewan travel itinerary for the McGillis House in St.Victor. The simple rustic façade of the little rustic cabin doesn’t seem significant at first glance, but it is by far one of the best historical buildings in the province. Originally built in 1890 by “Catchoo” McGillis, the house was constructed from basic items such as willow stake and prairie grasses. Now a museum, the historic site gives visitors a firsthand look at what life was like for Metis settlers who first lived in the region.

While traveling in the area, be sure to stop at Jean Louis Legare Regional Park for a picnic lunch and maybe even take pictures of the birds and natural wonders in the area. Being part of the Big Muddy Valley, the Legare Regional Park is full of spectacular coulees. The area now known as Hole 7 of the golf course was the last place Sitting Bull stayed before he entered back into the United States in 1881. The regional park was also home to Jean Louis Legare’s trading post and telegraph office.

Found in the Big Muddy Badlands, Castle Butte stands proudly against the Saskatchewan horizon. Those who travel to the area can recognize it easily by its layered cone-shaped sides and flat top. Guided siteseeing tours of the area are available as well. They are the perfect opportunity to explore the badlands by vehicle giving visitors the chance to see many of the natural wonders in the area including openings in the earth that reveal the coal that is hidden just underneath the surface. Along the way, you can learn more of the area’s rich history concerning Sitting Bull, Jean Louis Legare, and other people who resided in the area long ago.

The area surrounding Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan is as beautiful as it is rich in history and culture. The instant you arrive, you will immediately see why this travel destination is one of the best hidden gems in Canada.

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