Peter Hargraves

My face pressed against the glass of the exit door at the back of the big yellow school bus that collected us each morning at 7:52am. I was desperate to see snow. Flurries the night before had left a sprinkling on the frozen gravel road that stretched endlessly across the flat, flat prairies. The bus rumbled forward and with gathering speed, thin serpents of snow and dust began chasing us on our route to school. I was homesick, uncomfortable in my snow suit, unsure of the new smells, and confused that we could be so cold and still not have snow. The world was hues of brown, and grey, and cold, just like Jim Kurelek had painted his fall scenes.
To that point I had lived in a place that had two kinds of homes. One was made of mud, dung, and thatch. The other of brick and mortar with generous verandahs. The colour of your skin dictated the one in which one was allowed lived. In Canada the houses are different sizes but my eyes saw only one kind of house. The houses here seemed warm and mostly little, and it was important to take your shoes of at the door. Our house in Canada was tiny and some of the rooms were in the ground which was good if a tornado came but bad if you liked sunlight. We had no verandah which meant you played inside when it rained, but we did have front door that nobody ever used.
The conclusion over time is that the prairies don't seem to have house that were conceived here. The teepee is a prairie house but it is no longer used. Instead we have copies of houses that are made up of parts that have greater meaning in other parts of the world. The houses here work, they keep us warm and dry and out of the wind, some of them are even beautiful, but if left to time, they would not tell our story very much differently than that of the peoples in California or New England, or Halifax.