A poll has voted Saskatchewan the least beautiful province. Naturally, provincial pride means that many people are quite upset about the polls results, but it stands to reason that one province had to be voted least beautiful, and it’s likely due to a lack of obvious beauty that this province gets the short end of the stick.
The maritimes have coast, Alberta and B.C. have mountains. B.C. also has coast, so it’s got two big, obvious beautiful attractions. Quebec has interesting geography of its own and Ontario has a lot of historic architecture. I don’t think Ontario is that beautiful myself, but it does have some obvious landmarks that would put it off the list. Manitoba seems like it should be in the same boat as Saskatchewan, but it’s the only province we can compete against.
So already we’re fighting against some pretty strong competition, and that leads to a second problem, which is that the beautiful parts of Saskatchewan aren’t really the most obvious parts of the province. The Trans-Canada highway might be the busiest road in the province, and the most likely to draw from out of province. It also cuts through the dullest area, and the cliches about flat land are likely caused by the big flat expanse that people most commonly travel on. The Yellowhead has a few spots of interest but there are also long stretches with little to see especially on the other side of Saskatoon, which is a common problem with highways connecting major centers. That these are the highways most people will see doesn’t help the province’s case.
This is not to say that Saskatchewan does not have beauty, just that it’s off the beaten path. I know everyone knows a great lake, landmark or region that is stunning to look at and visit. These places are scattered throughout the province and are often within spitting distance of a big flat area that doesn’t offer much visual interest. If someone is going to go off the beaten path, the province has a lot of scenery to offer.
But one has to go off the beaten path, and while that makes finding these places rewarding, it also makes it difficult to actually win a national prettiness poll. We know the highlights of the province, we know that there are great places to visit that are just a couple minutes away from a major highway. People outside the province might not, and a scenic lake isn’t quite as in your face as a mountain.
One can argue that this makes the province a bit more subtle than the rest of the country, and maybe that’s true. One could even argue that the less obvious beauty makes Saskatchewan more rewarding to explore than a place that has many obvious landmarks. I might be inclined to agree, but that’s not something that wins a national poll, one that inevitably draws from a crowd whose exposure to the place is limited.
Perhaps the poll indicates that the tourism industry in the province needs to do some work bringing the hidden treasures and slightly obscure places to light, and getting people to realize that if you take a few steps away from the highway you can find some amazing things. On the other hand, maybe we should keep the province’s secrets to ourselves, then we don’t have to share with tourists coming around from the rest of the country.