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Flatlanders in the Canadian Rockies

by K Gordon Schultz

Anyone who hails from the prairies knows. Visiting or moving to the Canadian Rockies is a bit of a geological shock.

You can always tell who the flatlanders are by the wide-eyed, stunned and dazed looks on their faces. We’re a little slow to get around because we’re constantly looking up, which is a new direction for most of us. We’re the ones bumping into others as we drift into this fresh sense of awe like an eight year old in Disneyland. We’re the ones pulling over on the side of the road to take a picture of elk or moose grazing in the ditch even though we’ve already seen tons of them on the prairies. Don’t even get me started on what happens when we see a bear. The mountains do strange things to us.

While driving we struggle to adapt to the road having actual elevation changes. This is practically unheard of on the prairies and is one of the biggest changes we have to deal with when we visit. Somehow our cars seem to be most resistant to this change. Or perhaps it’s just our inability to gauge such changes that makes going up those hills a prolonged effort. Keep an eye out for those green license plates and consider passing them while you have the chance. We won’t be offended.

One of the biggest transitions I had to make was ensuring I didn’t say the word “bunnyhug” (not to be confused with actually hugging a rabbit) while trying to sell a hoody to anyone who wasn’t from Saskatchewan. People always do a double take wondering if I’ve suddenly switched languages and the Albertans have a good laugh at my expense. Everyone thought I talked funny but then, you’re bound to sound odd when you’re someplace new and different, right?

Flatlanders have to put up with a lot. Everything from the pitiful looks and comments when we tell someone where we’re from to the jokes about our landscape and customs. I challenge people to get more creative with their remarks. Anyone from the prairies will tell you the only people who can tease them are themselves and we usually have the best jokes.

Besides our driving, language, and facial expressions we can blend in quite nicely. The one thing sure to give us away is our excessive use of Saskatchewan Roughrider paraphernalia. So this summer, keep your eyes peeled for people walking around with watermelons on their heads. True, we may be a proud people, but we’re not too proud to put a watermelon on our head for the sake of football.

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