• Danik Bates

Corner Gas, Saskatchewan’s number one television show

Updated: May 7

One of my (yes, Danik, not Olga’s) dream places to visit in Canada I was able to tick off on my road trip during July 2015 was Rouleau, Saskatchewan. Why Rouleau you are asking? Have you not heard of the place? Well, I'll tell you. It is home for the hit Canadian comedy television show, Corner Gas which I discovered back in 2011 on the internet. How? Well, there was another show called Hiccups (which was aired after Corner Gas) which stars Brent Butt and Nancy Robertson, so I Wikipedia them as one does and found out they both starred in Corner Gas with Brent also creating the show. After episode one and the famous surveillance bush scene I was hooked. By the time I discovered the show, it had finished filming after six seasons but back in 2014 I was to discover a movie had been shot and released.

That was it, I needed to go to Rouleau and see if the area was flat, backwards and crazy like it is in the show (if you don’t know Saskatchewan, its very flat and has lots of fields), I booked my flights and planned a route around western Canada and managed to somehow get two days in the province (easy to draw but hard to spell, see a map!) with the highlight being Rouleau. Was I the only British fan to know of the show and actually come to the middle of nowhere to visit the set. Who knows but this blog is about my findings.

Driving along the road from Moose Jaw (another town nearby which is also mentioned in the show for having the world's largest moose, so I had to check that out as well!), I noticed the area was flatter than anywhere else in Saskatchewan (how can that happen, I know, take away more trees!). We were driving down the road for a long time with no end in sight. There was no traffic, no wildlife to encounter (but locals claim there are moose in the area), and no trains huddling down the line beside the road.

Then there it was, the set used for the actual gas station and the Ruby restaurant. I always thought it was a real gas station. We pulled up the Ford Taurus we rented beside the pumps (I always wanted to do this) then walked around. I was quite disappointed it was a brick building with painted cardboard and wood nailed onto the outside. From a distance, no one could tell this, still, its Corner Gas and the producers etc from the show have left this for the tourists (and there aren't many of them, am I the only one to visit today?). Brent claims that the gas station is the only one in 60km on the show. I found an Esso garage a few meters behind it with the sales attendant fast asleep on his stool outside soaking up the sun. (Since writing the blog, the set for the gas station and Ruby have been taken down due to the building sinking into the ground).

Across the road is the famous grain elevator which can be seen for miles, the one which Lacy got listed as an historic building in the show and no one could knock it down despite the fact that there were lots of rats living in there.

We drove into Main Street to see so many buildings which were used in the show, ranging from the police station, the insurance brokers and the Howler newspaper. The food market however got burnt down in real life after the movie was filmed here but now is under construction to rebuild the building.

We took in the bar which is open and was used for filming. The Dog River bar and hotel has had a major refurbishment since filming inside and doesn't look the same. However they sell good beers and postcards of the show. The barmaid was telling us information about the show and the building whilst a local got talking to me about Saskatchewan and life around here. I think we lasted about an hour in the bar talking about the area. It was a great insight and I can't believe people don't want to leave this place to live elsewhere where there is much more going on.

Afterwards we took a walk around the town and checked out Emily and Oscar's house on the outskirts, the ice rink and the water tower which got vandalised on the show.

Rouleau is such a charming place, if it was for the television show, then the local people would be having a much quieter life if it wasn't for the one or two tourists like ourselves passing by every day. There is really not much to do here but if you are a fan of the show like me, then each building seen on the main streets will look very familiar to you. I still introduce the show now to friends back home, it may not have the British wit but it has a different type of comedy, one which slowly builds up to a joke. Some of the jokes are fantastic. Brent Butt has truly created a fantastic show and knows how to get a lot of Saskatchewan jokes into the script. Corner Gas will always remain one of my top shows ever and I was so glad I came out to the middle of Canada to see the place.

Before I sign off this blog, this one of my favourite scripts ever from the show and was used at the very beginning of the first ever episode.

Brent: Want me to fill it up? (whilst standing at the gas pumps as a car has pulled up and a man winds down the window to reply to Brent’s answer).

Man: Sure. You know I've never driven across Saskatchewan before.

Brent: Well, you still haven't really. About halfway to go yet.

Man: Sure is flat.

Brent: How do you mean?

Man: You know, flat. Nothing to see.

Brent: What do you mean, like topographically? Hey Hank (Brent’s friend who is an unemployed man in his 20’s who hangs out at the gas station), this guy says Saskatchewan is flat.

Hank: How do you mean?

Brent: Topographically, I guess. He says there's nothin' to see.

Hank: There's lots to see. There's nothin' to block your view.

Brent: There's lots to see. Nothin' to block your view. Like the mountains back there. They're uh... Well, what the hell? I could've sworn there was a big mountain range back there. Juttin' up into the sky all purple and majestic. I must be thinkin' of a postcard I saw or somethin'. Hey, it is kinda flat, thanks for pointin' that out.

Man: You guys always this sarcastic?

Brent: Nothin' else to do.

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