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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 50 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

44

One of the earliest plays of Saskatchewan-history in the Saskatchewan Archives

takes us back fifty years to the prolific playwright Mary Pattison of Saskatoon.46

Pattison’s play Gold is Where You Find It (30:00) fits well into the dominant

educational/historical mode of the Saddlemyer era. Produced in 1955, the play marked

the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Western Development Museum in

Saskatoon.47 In the play, an elementary school class visits the museum. History is taught

through encounters with characters like Joe Phelps, the museum board chair; Mr. Nelson,

an old thresher-operator; and Mr. Peterson, their bus-driver. Mr. Phelps teaches the

children the following facts: the museum building itself is an old airplane hangar from

Swift Current; it has had over 30,000 visitors since it opened; the museum’s threshers’

reunion recently organized by the museum that went over so well that it will become an

annual event; there are new household displays; the museum is funded by grants,

admission charges, and the provincial government. Phelps also points out several of the

more curious displays like a 60 million-year-old stone containing a fossil leaf-print, a

lady’s side saddle, the 1903 Eaton's catalogue, a Red River Cart complete with authentic

axle-squeak, and various cars including a 1938 Stanley Steamer.

As the class moves further into the museum, they encounter Mr. Nelson. As he

tells stories of the threshing crews working his parents farm, the listener fades into warm

and nostalgic dramatized scenes from Nelson’s memories. The schoolchildren comment

on the antiquated-looking threshing machines on display in the museum. Nelson reminds

them that in fifty years, what they see as new will also look out-of-date, because

46 47

More information on Pattison can be found in the Background chapter. 1955 was Saskatchewan’s 50th Anniversary.

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