In December 2010 I moved into my current residence on Normandy Road in Takhini. Joining me as roommates were Gavin Gardiner from Saskatoon and Jayden Soroka from Regina. In January 2011, Weyburn’s own Shawn O’Dell also moved in.
With three-quarters of our household originating from Saskatchewan it was natural to begin calling our large, white house, the Saskatchewan Embassy.
When Gavin moved away near the end of 2011, Jennifer Duncombe, also from Saskatchewan, replaced him. And in March 2013 Jenny’s cousin Taylor Tiefenbach joined us. In our three-year history we have never had less than two Saskatchewanians living here.
And though “the Embassy” moniker originated as a joke between friends, we began sponsoring plays (my own, included) and hosting house concerts. Soon, a picture of former premier Tommy Douglas was posted in our entranceway. Following that, someone installed a clock perpetually set to Saskatchewan time. The Embassy had become an entity.
So, on November 17, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders booked their ticket to the Grey Cup with a 35-13 trouncing of the fumble-prone Calgary Stampeders, it was only proper decorum for us to host a Grey Cup party the following weekend. We rearranged the furniture, bought cable television for the event, and stocked our fringe full of Vitamin P (if you don’t know, I’m not going to explain).
Roughriders’ fans need no help getting rowdy for a championship game, but this year fuel was added to their fire because the game was actually being hosted by Regina. Furthermore, their opponents, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, previous faced Saskatchewan in the 1989 Grey Cup. The Riders won that contest 43-40 in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest CFL games of all time.
On a more personal level, Taylor, the Embassy’s resident sports nut, and Jenny have family connections.
Their grandfather, Ron Atchison was a defensive lineman when the Riders won their first cup in 1966. Famous for wielding a plaster forearm cast long after his injury had healed, Atchison was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1978.
Given all these factors, the atmosphere in the Saskatchewan Embassy was throbbing with anticipation as the kick-off approached.
Alas, once the game actually started, it soon descended into a rout. The Riders caught a few lucky breaks early, and their stud running back Kory Sheets picked apart the Ti-Cats defense at will.
By halftime Saskatchewan had a 31-6 lead. They cruised to a 45-23 throttling — their fourth Grey Cup.
How is an embassy supposed to celebrate its homeland’s international victories, particularly if those victories are lopsided?
We decided that a round of green Jell-O shots followed by a trip to the local tavern was in order. Contrary to every bar in Saskatchewan that night, the one we arrived at was empty. It was a reminder that ambassadors and ex-pats are sometimes forced to celebrate their triumphs alone.
Still, it didn’t stop Taylor from glowing with diplomatic immunity.
Peter Jickling is a Whitehorse playwright and the assistant editor of What’s Up Yukon