It’s a frigid and blustery weekend, April 2017. There’s this biting cold, a constant numbness. We’re here on on the plains of Saskatchewan, north of this little town, west of that one, a place sparsely populated, fields stretching off to the horizon in every direction. All around, the trying conditions, the wind, the snow, this overpowering sense of utter isolation. And we’re here with a motley group of friends to explore, in search of ghost towns, abandonment, things left behind. And it’s all being filmed.
Old Jack has been on this earth a long time. Longer than pretty much anyone reading this here post. He’s lives on a little hill (what, in SK?) a short distance from the place he was born. Never has he strayed from the area. He lives alone, has for many decades. Oh, and he owns an old grain elevator in a ghost town and we’re here to tour it with him (article soon). But first, a brief little look at his collectiom. Seems he has a thing for old metal.
This will be a quick look – the schedule says we have to get filming – but you can bet your last dollar, we’ll be back. Spring won’t come fast enough. Till then a few teasers – no attempt was made to get a backstory or to do deep research – that will be for next time – so here, just some nice pics to enjoy.
1) All kinds of odds and ends here, including this old wheelchair. One wonders how Jack acquired it, and what the plans were to do with it. Hmmm.
2) This 1959 Dodge. Oh, I was born in the wrong era. We’ll be back to check this one out – it’s got tail fins! You gotta love tail fins – we come for the tail fins! And chrome! Oh yes, chrome! Cars from the ’50s are a favourite.
3) On Jack’s hill, an old thresher and a 1940s era International Pickup, KB series we think (or maybe just a K). A snow squall makes an appearance, the wind blows. We must be crazy. Or dedicated. Even in spite of it’s low stature, this hill affords a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.
4) A Fargo LCF (Low Cab Forward). This was badge engineered Dodge sold at Plymouth dealerships in Canada (not the US). Dual headlights tells us this is a 1960-1968-ish model. The Fargo name was retired in 1972. Those fenders could swing out, allowing easy access to the drive train – a clever feature.
5) Old Jack himself and his “plane” built using odd bits of metal found on the property.
6) An old boiler. Some heavy metal here. We know there’s a story attached to this one.
7) View camera photographer Rob Pohl looks on as Jack talks about his homemade car, built when he was a much younger man. It’s made up of car and tractor parts salvaged off what ever junkers they had lying around at the time, and wood. Lots of wood. Way back when he once drove it to a nearby town. Took the better part of the day. Bet it was bone-rattler (steel wheels)!
8) Random find – a running theme here – an old TV. Again, one wonders how it got here. To this very spot, here among all these old vehicles. Anyone know if Hockey Night In Canada is on? Anyone have a really long extension cord? It’s only a half section to the nearest plug.
9) Film maker Rueben Tschetter setting up for a shot. We didn’t really plan to film here, but got distracted by all this wondrous metal and when magic happens, well, it needs to be recorded.
10) A late example of a Ford Model T, the car that made Detroit, one of the most ubiquitous vehicles of all time. Some fourteen million and change were made from 1908-1927. New they cost a few hundred bucks or so. We see these in old metal yards all the time. They made so many of them!
11) Old Jack himself, our guide and storyteller for the day. Full of energy, full of life, listening to him tell of the old days was mesmerizing. We got here a friend…for life.
12) An early 1970s Ford Gran Torino. In back an old truck demands further attention – but we have to go.
13) An overview showing just a small corner of Jack’s property. There’s more stuff here than we could ever explore in the hour or so we had before we had to leave for the next stop.
14) Back when hood ornaments ruled, here, one found on an early 1950s Pontiac.
15) A 1949 Chevrolet, an every man’s car and in back a 1970s era Ford and an old grain bin.
16) A 1936 Chevrolet flanked by a couple old steel-wheeled tractors. While see lots of post World War Two era cars in old metal yards, but those from before tend to be quite rare. Another favourite era.
17) Last plated in 1951 – Saskatchewan was the…what…“Wheat Province”? They grown wheat here? Who knew.
18) A 1920s era Twin City Tractor and an equally old, roughly, McCormick Deering, by International Harvester. The former, based on our own observations (your mileage may very) was not a common make in Canada. Both have steel wheels, hand crank start, were open, cold, hot, miserable and noisy. Still, better than a team of horses I guess.
19) The 30’s Chevrolet seen earlier. It’s still got a spare!
20) Rows of old metal – God we could shoot here all day – in front a that ’49 Chevrolet – but again, we have to go.
21) On the way to Jack’s Elevator, this lonely old farm house. He knows the story – and we’ll be back!
22) Eureka, our destination. His metal yard was a nice diversion, but there’s work to be done, a movie to be shot at this here building. Keep an eye open, it’ll appear in its own article soon enough.
23) Some of the team, Chris, trademark yellow, Rob Pohl and partially hidden, photographer Byron Robb, chat it up with Jack. He’s the smart one here, keeping to his truck. Filming here in Fusilier – that’s the town we’re in (BTW, it’s on private property) – just wrapped and soon we’d say our goodbyes – holding back the tears, Jack was a dear. We don’t want the magic to end – and it’s been nothing but that – but the next town on our shooting schedule beckons.
This film we’ve been talking about? Do tell! Coming from Rueben Tschetter’s Cache Productions, it follows Team BIGDoer, and a motley crew of dedicated photographers (Rob and Byron mentioned earlier), as together they explore the “Forgotten Prairies”, taking in places like what you’ve seen here. The film has just been completed (these things take time), just premiered some weeks back, is up for an award, and a full copy will be posted here soon. Stay tuned folks.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: April, 2017.
Location: West Central Saskatchewan.
Article references and thanks: Old Jack.
Jack’s place is private property