Introduction

Among the first questions that out-of-town teachers ask when they are being offered a teaching position in Sandy Bay are:

The questions are quite understandable and fully expected by the school board superintendent or whoever is doing the hiring.

Sandy Bay is at the end of a 121 kilometre dirt highway in the forests of northern Saskatchewan. Before you even make the turn to start up the dirt highway you will probably have already travelled many hours on paved highways while seeing very few signs of human civilization. Sandy Bay truly is a community that is lost in the wilderness out in the middle of nowhere.

One of the advantages of Sandy Bay is that it started out in life as a single industry community. The mines in Flin Flon, Manitoba needed a supply of electrical power so they built a hydroelectric dam near Sandy Bay. In the process they built many roads in the Sandy Bay area.

I have taught in many other northern communities that were at the end of a dirt highway. Once you arrived in one of those communities the road just stopped. A dead end! There was nowhere you could go for a drive except back out the same road you just drove in on.

Sandy Bay was different. With all of those industry built roads wandering around in the forest a teacher on the weekend could drive around for a few hours before running out of roads and new places to explore.

The following four pages of photographs show what the road conditions were like on the afternoon of December 1, 2002.

On this first page I am driving from Sandy Bay out to the airport on one of the best roads in the area. I then continue following an airport service road (i.e. emergency rescue road) that runs parallel to the airport runway. Pray that you never need to be rescued or try to do the rescuing as this road is a challenge to drive. Finally I reach the end of the road where it becomes almost nonexistent as it does a loop near the shore of the Churchill River downstream from the community. I had a bit of difficulty getting out of this situation with my four wheel drive pickup truck.

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Photo: sandy1241

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Photo: sandy1242 ~ There is a person walking on the highway up ahead.

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Photo: sandy1244 ~ A grouse on the road.

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Photo: sandy1245 ~ The airport buildings can be seen up ahead.

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Photo: sandy1246 ~ A sand pit.

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Photo: sandy1251 ~ The service road parallel to the airport runway.

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Photo: sandy1252

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Photo: sandy1253 ~ Arriving at the loop at the end of the road.

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Photo: sandy1254 ~ I got out of my vehicle and tried walking around the loop.

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Photo: sandy1255 ~ Should I try to drive forward or back up? Is my vehicle stuck?

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Photo: sandy1256

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Photo: sandy1257 ~ My vehicle keeps sliding sideways as my tires slip down into ruts and the ditch.

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Photo: sandy1258 ~ Finally I have managed to rescue myself from the hazards of the road loop in the forest by the river. Now I am back on the service road running along the edge of a clearing. Somewhere out in that clearing is the airport runway. I was never able to see the actual airport runway or airplanes taking off or landing from any of the roads I travelled on.

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Photo: sandy1259