This is the Welcome Note commissioned by Tourism Saskatchewan for their Discovery Guide. It was originally written in 2010 and a modified version has been published each year since. Link to the Saskatchewan Tourism Discovery Guide

Despite how it looks, the word 'Saskatchewan' is easy to pronounce. Ask anyone, they'll tell you. It's a two-syllable word, maybe even one. 1: Scatch and 2: wn. Scatchwn.

After you've got that cleared up, the conversation will no doubt wind its way to the weather. You can bet that on "coffee row" somewhere, right now, the weather is being discussed. This place averages 2000 hours of bright sunshine each year, and the rain-gauge reading can relate directly to the livelihood, so really, can you blame them?

They give directions by name here, "Go past the old Lawrence house and take a left." Distance is measured in time, "Yorkton to Tisdale is a three-hour drive." And, daylight savings is not observed. That's right, the clocks don't change. Just one more reason why life here is enduring.

Winters can be extreme. But in typical prairie fashion people see the bright side saying thing like, "At least it's a dry cold." Ask around and you'll find someone who has frozen their tongue to a flag pole as a kid, and is darn proud of it, too. The crisp air and snow of winter brings hockey, tobogganing, snowmobiling, skating and skiing. Frozen lakes become home to communities of ice fishermen who park their shelters until spring breakup.

Summer months see lazy days at the lake. The fresh clean waters of the lakes are a haven for swimming, water skiing, fishing and more. Ski trails give way to hiking and biking paths, birds come north and a bustling season of festivals begins. Living in a climate of four distinct seasons brings a varied and exciting roster of activities, and people here take full advantage.

No matter what time of year, try saying "Green is the colour" to someone. You're sure to hear the answer "Football is the game" and probably be treated to a full rendition of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' anthem. Fans come from miles around, wearing helmets fashioned from watermelon husks and teeming with Rider Pride.

Banding together to support the home team is just the start of the community spirit. They come by their sense of camaraderie naturally here. The geographic isolation of the early rural days made gracious hosts out of the settlers. So welcome were visiting neighbours, that it was nothing to stretch a meal for four into a feast for a dozen. Rarely did people have a penny to spare in the early days, but there was a powerful sense of generosity and trust that is evident even today.

Saskatchewan is home to Tommy Douglas "The Father of Medicare," Gordie Howe, Joni Mitchell, Buffy St. Marie, W.O. Mitchell just to name a few. The talented, genius, sometimes eccentric - all shaped from their time on these lands.

Beneath the vast living skies, the people here are survivors, skilled artists, ambassadors of the old country and genuinely friendly hosts. Welcome to a place where it's still custom to hold the door for a stranger.

Come on in, leave your shoes on the mat.
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