Monday, 28 November 2011

Bienvenue à Mossbank

Main street is the hub of the community.

If all you knew about Mossbank, Sask. was from the 2006 Canadian census, you would not know that Lise Costley existed. In the census that year, Mossbank was said to have 10 people who could speak French. All of these people were said to be men. 

However, Costley has lived around Mossbank with her husband and family since 1982. Costley, who originally comes from Gravelbourg, first learned French.Her father was a doctor and she learned English from speaking with the patients at her father’s practice.

Long-time teacher reflects on career


Ms. Lawrence teaches her class of Grade 9 students.
       It was only a job, only a place to gain teaching experience, only supposed to be for a few years. Instead, Arnelda Lawrence spent 22 of the past 30 years teaching young students at the Mossbank School, taking time off only to raise her own children. 

Her teaching and volunteer work with programs such as the volleyball team and the Student Representative Council has helped shape the young minds of the town and leaves a lasting impression that will continue on into the future. However, the school and the town itself will experience a time in the not-too-distant future where Lawrence will no longer be teaching, as both she and her husband approach retirement and leaving Mossbank.

Reflections from shore


The highway hugs rolling hills as it winds its way to Mossbank. Glass ponds mirror the morning sun while bales of hay freckle the landscape. Shades of autumn are everywhere as we travel this road that will eventually lead to Old Wives Lake and its feathered company. Mossbank is virtually a stone’s throw away from Old Wives Lake, which has been a designated Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary since 1925.

R.M. remains vulnerable to flooding


Photo from Carol Parafenko                                      Roadway Flood in Mossbank Sask. summer of 2011.
South of Mossbank, Kevin Stark turns his pickup off Highway 2 onto a gravel road. Frost has already driven most of the green colour from the landscape. Sweet clover skeletons sway on the edge of wheat stubble, waving at a mob of Canadian geese scrounging through a sun-bleached field.  Harvest has been finished for weeks and farmers are just wrapping up their fall field work. It's been a much better fall than local farmers had anticipated. 

Reaping art in Mossbank

Carved bird feathers are compared to real feathers in Smith's house.

Nestled between rolling hills, a salt water lake, and a vast prairie landscape I came across the town of Mossbank. At first look, Mossbank seemed to be a small town that could be found anywhere in Saskatchewan. At closer inspection though, one element stood out: art. I found art in the museum, the general store, the bar, everywhere. I was about to find out why.

“At one time Mossbank had more craftspeople per capita than any other community in Canada,” Joy Silzer said to me over a cup of coffee and banana bread in her home.

Organic farmers pressured by global markets


Organic grain elevator in Sask. fights the recession.
     The faltering global economy and its widespread financial crisis have landed heavily on the organic farming industry in Saskatchewan. Where the rolling hills beyond Moose Jaw, Sask. open into golden fields, many organic farmers find themselves on a plateau between their values and the ability to put bread on their own tables.

Between 2008 and 2009, 84 new certified organic farms were formed in Saskatchewan. RW Organic Ltd, based out of Mossbank, Sask., is one of the largest organic storage facilities in the world. Ron Wells, an organic farmer, imagined the company to meet the needs of the growing organic industry and to help farmers gain certification. Wells brought in 190 organic farmers between 1999 and 2000, often doing the paperwork and paying the fees out of his own pocket.