When exactly did it become cool to be a prairies kid?
Growing up, it always seemed like the summertime was consumed with trips to the lake, camping, and racking up an endless amount of kilometres on the highway. Everything smelled of campfire, and streams of sand followed feet into the house.
Welcome to Saskatchewan.
As a prairies kid, road trips were the norm on the weekend, with tourist destinations like Regina Beach or Waskesiu being the reward for hours spent cooped up in the back seat. It wasn’t just the beach – this was how we saw some of the most enchanting, and atypical, scenery in all of Canada. Like the bountiful forests and fields of Cypress Hills. Or the atypically beautiful badlands at Big Muddy. Or discovering the natural ruggedness of areas in the northernmost reaches of the province.
There was plenty to be proud of, living in Saskatchewan, even if it meant accepting, and even loving, the endless stereotypical flatness of the wheat fields.
And part of this prairies-pride was wearing t-shirts with animals like moose or bears adorning them – although a gopher bounding across a grain field likely would be more apt for most people living here. Along with the sunburns and mosquito bites, summer also brought with it new wardrobes – clothing adorned with the names of small towns and scenery that we would collect for distant relatives and mail off like they were postcards.
But the fashion sentiments sometimes run deeper than just a clever design – tourist t-shirts don’t just tell others where we’ve been, they also tell a story of where we came from.
And Saskie Shop, an award-winning apparel business, is doing just that.
A company that celebrates the spirit of the prairies, Saskie Shop is creating inspired clothing that reflects the friendly, expressive and unique personality of this province with a modern take on the tourist t-shirt.
Dale Braitenbach, a customer of Saskie Shop, has deep roots in Saskatchewan. Born in Saskatoon, when Braitenbach and his wife moved to Manitoba he says that he quickly realized how far his prairies-pride extended.
“There is nothing like going to another province or country and wearing something that says Saskatchewan,” says Braitenbach, who now calls Prince Albert his home.
“As for clothes, there was nothing that we found that promoted Saskatchewan other than the Riders gear or the U of S Huskies. But we like to be different and the Saskie Shop does that. It was great to have another option.”
In the past few years it’s become a growing trend to once again don these shirts that are emblazoned with the imagery of Saskatchewan culture. Except instead of the same tired designs – the silhouettes of animals, the tired fonts – there is a whole new look that has sprouted for tourists and those of us who are homegrown. You can only look at the same postcard images for so long, after all.
And while Saskie Shop’s designs are a modern take on the tourist t-shirt, they carry an element of familiarity as well. For example, the Route 16 Sask. design, Saskie Shop’s best-selling shirt, is a play on America’s iconic highway. Connecting Saskatchewan with Canadian cities such as Edmonton and Winnipeg, the Yellowhead is one of the busiest highways in the province. It’s a road that nearly every prairies-born person has traveled upon, making it similarly iconic for those who live here.
The Saskie Shop design is also a metaphor for the pride that Saskatchewan residents take to heart, says Braitenbach.
“We are starting to see more people wearing these designs and it makes us happy to see that people take pride from where they were either born, live or lived,” he says.
So when exactly did it become cool to be a prairies kid? Maybe it always has been.
Nowadays it is not uncommon to see the elements of our pride extending well beyond the boundaries of Saskatchewan – they are appearing across the rest of Canada and beyond.
They are also popping up alongside some very famous faces.
One celebrity sighting came from Kim Coates, who stars in the hit series Sons of Anarchy. The Saskatoon-born actor posted a selfie that prominently displayed the Route 16 design. Similarly, Premiere Brad Wall professed his Saskie Shop love when he posted a tweet about receiving the “Swheat” t-shirt from his sister-in-law. The t-shirts have even made an appearance on the iconic television game show The Price Is Right. Obviously, tourist tees are becoming the norm, especially for anyone wanting to show off their Saskatchewan pride. Take a look around – our prairies roots are everywhere.
You’ll find Saskie Shop t-shirts at events across the province this summer, or shop online: saskieshop.com.