I'm continuing to find parallels between rural Saskatchewan and rural Newfoundland almost every day, though I've also noticed plenty more differences, too. One key difference is the ownership, or possession, of land. One thing that really stood out to me was how wild is the landscape of Keels. Despite having several centuries of European settlement, the land here seems somehow less corrupted than it does back home. I suppose that is literally true; in Saskatchewan much of the land has been cultivated and put to agricultural use, whereas in Keels the soil is unsuitable for agriculture (you can't grow wheat out of rocks). As Dr. John Mannion put it, in Keels, "the sea is the field."
|A sign proclaiming possession of a patch of waterfront|
property (with Joey Donnelly). Photo: Kristin Catherwood
However, this sense of the land somehow being less "possessed," for lack of a better word, does have some merit to it. Although Saskatchewan has only been settled (or more accurately, colonised) for just over a century, the land is distinctly divided up. Since the land is what produces the livelihood, its ownership is considered very important. In Keels, on the other hand, houses don't generally have deeds, and there is no land ownership, per se. This wasn't a problem in times past. Several branches of one family fished together, and thus what was important was the fishing stage down on the shore, and a house in which to raise a family. This was never a huge problem until recent years with the inundation of "CFAs" (Come-from-aways), also known as "the summer people." These are people who have bought up houses in Keels to make their summer residences. Some "CFAs" have tried to impose land ownership on Keels, a concept which just doesn't really have any relevance in reality. With some cheekiness, a few locals installed a sign on a piece of land proclaiming it as "private property."
|John Ducey at the splitting table on the community fish stage|
after bringing in a new catch. Photo: Kristin Catherwood