Southern Saskatchewan tour
forgotten land. Abandoned long ago to weeds, scrub and bugs. The early settlers who gave up their westward push in this area put roots into ground hard enough to crush their dreams and their seed.
And this hard scrabble place cowering under the big sky continues to demand solitude and more forsaking.
The hamlet of Oakshela, 13 km east of Grenfell, is a graveyard. Home to four houses, ten people and a scrapyard of old cars, truck trailers, cabs and tanks.
“There used to be a school here, a post office there and lots of families,” says the old man who abandoned his job on the pipeline due to a leg injury. Now he tends the ruins of his patch of earth, left behind by his kids and his neighbours. He drives the hamlet in a golf cart, bumping along what was the main street but is now a wide path of grass. He manicures the lawn road, tending his memories.
Oakshela was even abandoned by the church. The German language Lutheran building is now busted and broken; the entrance piled high with bird shit and the sanctuary a storage room for old school desks.
“It used to be quite a place,” says the old man. “But it’s gone now. All gone… but us.”