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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 18 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

12

been, and continues to be, comparatively more spread out, or more rural, than the rest of

Canada. Since Saskatchewan’s inception as a province on September 1st 1905, its

population has also been comparatively spread out and isolated. In the 1920s, 75% of the

population of Saskatchewan lived in rural areas. Through the 1930s radio became, to

some, the only source of relief from their feelings of isolation. Gerry Quinney spent his

career as a broadcaster in Western Canadian cities like Vancouver, Kelowna, and

Saskatoon. In Signing On: The Birth of Canadian Radio, Quinney recalls that, “The

isolation of the prairie farmer in the winter is something the world can really only

imagine, especially in the 30s. The only communication with the rest of the world these

people had was through their radios” (McNeil and Wolfe). Though greater urbanization

has been the norm across Canada, Saskatchewan still has a larger percentage of its

population living in rural areas than the national average. In 1991, 78% of Canada’s

population lived in urban areas. In Saskatchewan, however, only 63% of the population

lived in urban areas. As of 1996, 38.7% of Saskatchewan's population remained

“rural”.11 Radio drama still plays a part in providing a “theatre” to more isolated, rural

populations, as well as to urban centers in Saskatchewan.

As Anne Nothof points out, “radio drama reaches an audience at a distance,

individuals without access to live theatre, who construct for themselves through the

sounds on the radio a sense of other places, other people, and perhaps, of themselves”

(Nothof 69). Such a receptive and isolated audience exists in Saskatchewan.

11 Statistics Canada Defines urban as, “areas, which have minimum population concentrations of 1,000 and a population density of at least 400 per square kilometre, based on previous census counts. All territory outside urban areas is considered rural. Taken together, urban and rural areas cover all of Canada” (page 3, www.statcan.ca/english/censusag/apr26/sask3.pdf). More Saskatchewan census information is available on-line at such addresses as: <http://www.gov.sk.ca/bureau.stats/pop/census8101.pdf>, <http://www.statcan.ca/english/censusag/apr26/sask3.pdf>, and <http://www.agr.gov.sk.ca/docs/statistics/finance/other/NumberCensusFarms.pdf>

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