“Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime”. Motto on Broadview’s website
There’s a town in Eastern Saskatchewan called Broadview. Why it’s called that I don’t really know. Truth be told, there is a lot of Saskatchewan (and Manitoba, and Alberta for that matter), that could boast of “broad views” in that there isn’t a whole lot to block a view. What you’re viewing, nobody knows. But the one thing we can all agree on is that it is a broad one.
There’s not really a lot to see from the highway, to be honest, and despite an impressive website for a community of its size, I remember it made the news a few years ago when it came out that bored residents got their entertainment by listening in on passing truckers’ CB radio, and scolding them for using bad language. Of course I can’t find a link to that story now, but you’ll just have to trust my memory that it happened. If you DO take time to visit the Broadview Museum, you may see the stuffed corpse of “Sargent Bill” an honest to goodness Billy Goat who was the town’s mascot in WWI. This goat must have had some kind of winning personality because not only did they decide to stuff him after he died, the Army gave him a medal for war service while he was alive. I didn’t know they had goats over there as mascots or what the hell a goat could do to earn a medal, but if a guy can buy a bear at a train station and take him overseas #winniethepoohref then anything is possible, I guess. What a world.
Anyway, my first experience with Broadview stretches back to more than 20 years ago. My Mom, brother and I were driving home from a family wedding in Alberta and we had been on the road for about 10 hours at this point and quite punchy. My Mom was thinking of getting a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier as a pet, and she wanted to stop in to visit a SCWT breeder in Broadview. She had the address, and Broadview isn’t that big of a place, so it didn’t take very long to find it. It was one of the few times that day we were all out of the car to stretch our legs, and like I said: my brother and I were pretty beat. When my Mom rang the doorbell, we knew we had the right house from the chorus of barking erupting from within. After a minute, there was a woman at the door with two of the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen in your life in her arms. She apologized for the noise. My Mom introduced herself and the woman remembered her from a previous phone conversation.
“Would you like to come around the back and check out my BITCHES??” the woman asked us out of the blue, and that was all it took for my brother and me to just lose it and start laughing hysterically until tears were in our eyes. Yes, I knew that female dogs are called “bitches” and I also sort of knew that breeders use that term all the time and they don’t think anything of it, but it was so unexpected to see this otherwise normal looking lady use that word that my brother and I couldn’t even.
My Mom shot glares at us which meant, “Smarten up. What are you, twelve?” For the record, I was 20. We managed to pull it together for just long enough until one of us looked at the other and then a fresh round of hysterics would explode from us. From that day onward, “Do you want to come check out my BITCHES?” entered our family vocabulary.
So let’s fast-forward to the present day. My wife has a notoriously tiny bladder. Everyone knows this, and so on road trips you gotta factor in an additional 10% of time for extra washroom stops over and above the NORMAL amount of time for people with NORMAL bladders. It got so bad on this trip that I was forced into a village that had no gas station or any real services. My wife was so grateful that this little café let her use their facilities even though they had a “Washrooms are for Customers Only” sign out front, she bought a jar of Saskatoon Jam, so what I’m saying is that frequent pee stops aren’t always a bad thing.
So we had a pee stop in Broadview on our drive home over the weekend. This CO-OP gas station had what I thought was a door man, but in fact it was just the guy who pumps your gas, and since no one usually stops in Broadview, he was just standing by the door, looking forlornly out at an empty parking lot. Since he wasn’t allowed to check his trucker CB frequency while on the clock, he passed his time at work by opening the door to people like my wife who were only there for the toilets.
I hung out in the parking lot (because I am not even joking when I say that we stopped maybe an hour before in Moose Jaw for gas and pee), and I saw a strange sight. It was a bicycle with a baby chariot attached. That in of itself isn’t all that strange. You see long distance cyclists use them from time to time, if not for actual babies, then for their gear and whatnot. What was odd about this situation was that there was a full-grown (and quite elderly, by the look of her) Golden Retriever curled up in the back. It’s owner must have been in the store getting snacks.
When my wife came out, I saw a peculiar sign on the other side of the gas station that I thought would be fun to take our daughter’s picture with. In the interests of privacy I shall not name that sign nor shall I show that picture, but I WILL show platinum subscribers during the next pledge week. After I took a couple of pictures, the guy with the dog in the baby carrier pedaled up to us and offered to take a picture of all of us together. It’s rare to get a pic of all three of us that isn’t some kind of cramped “selfie” affair, so we took him up on his generous offer.
He seemed to have some kind of signage on his bike that I didn’t notice before, and I asked him what his deal was. It turns out he is pedaling across Canada with his dog, Ginger, to raise awareness of Juvenile PTSD and mental illness. He started in PEI in June and plans to make it to Victoria by October. He gave us his card, told us his dog’s name was Ginger, and we parted ways. There’s something special about someone doing an extraordinary act (like biking across the country) to raise awareness for a cause in which they believe. I didn’t really think of PTSD as something that kids could experience, but why not? Any traumatic event could trigger it, so it’s prevalence is probably grossly under-reported and greatly misunderstood.
His name is Brian Nadon, and he is the Founder and Director of the VATIC foundation. (Value, Achieve, Take Part, Inspire, Community) and he hopes to raise $150,000 this summer for a post-secondary scholarship fund for young people who suffer from PTSD and mental illness. I liked the cut of his jib, and I wish him the very best of the rest of his journey (especially that part where he goes through the Rocky Mountains). It made me reflect on my own experiences with mental illness, which I wrote about once here and also here. (#shamelessblogpostbuzzmarketing) Brian seemed like a friendly guy, he had a Kansas City Royals ball cap affixed to his bike, which is a surrogate team for me when the Jays are out of it, and anyone raising awareness of mental illness is a kindred. Also, I love a good acronym.
When we got home I googled “Bike Riding for PTSD” and was surprised to see that Brian isn’t the only one riding across Canada this summer for PTSD. There’s another guy who’s doing it on Motorcycle. Michael Terry, a veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan is riding to raise awareness of PTSD in the military, specifically. Who knew? Is this just like the summer of ’97 where we had to choose between Dante’s Peak and Volcano, or the following summer where we were forced to choose between Deep Impact and Armageddon? Or the constant decision we are forced to make EVEN TO THIS DAY whether we are fans of Josh Whedon or fans of J.J. Abrams? BUT NOT BOTH?! (For the record, I’m a Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak and J.J. Abrams man all the way and shan’t hear it any other way). But since Brian is doing it on a bicycle with a dog and I met him, I consider him the Terry Fox of PTSD awareness and the Motorcycle guy merely the Steve Fonyo. (Still good though! And gosh, more than I could achieve believe me. I don’t want to badmouth anyone who is following their calling and who has served our country and suffered for it and Lord knows mental health needs as many advocates as possible and I think there’s plenty of room for bikes, motorcycles and even a guy in a borrowed CR-V on the TransCanada this summer).
If you’d like to read more about Brian’s journey, learn about PTSD, and feel moved to make a donation, you can check out his webpage at www.vaticfoundation.com
He’s also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @vaticfoundation if you’d like to cheer him on.
Consider this a signal boost from Broadview, the home of bitches and dead goats, where “Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime” sounds like a threat, not a promise.