As I start this column, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Yorkton, Sask., on the tail end of a whirlwind but wonderful vacation loop that spanned three provinces.
My partner and I were about half an hour outside of Yorkton when we had some car trouble.
A nice man in a tow truck kindly picked us up from the side of the highway and brought us and my injured vehicle back to Yorkton, where we found ourselves accidental tourists in the town after being intentional tourists in several other communities over the course of the week.
As we explored the area around the hotel in search of food (we landed on a variety of salads from the nearby grocery store along with hummus, iced teas and some chocolate – a supper of champions), it kind of got me thinking – we were contributing a fair share to the local economy.
Over the course of just 24 hours, we handed over hard earned cash to a local hotel, grocery store, garage, coffee shop and gas station.
And that was just an impromptu stop that lasted less than a day. Previous to our mild misfortune (but really, our vacation was extended by a day so who’s complaining?) we had hit up several towns in the Canadian Rockies, explored them, fuelled up at their gas stations, ate in their restaurants, searched out the best cafes and raided their vintage and thrift stores.
We contributed a fair chunk of funds to the communities we visited, and when I think about the millions of people who pass through isolated towns in the mountains each year in search of escape from the daily grind along with photos guaranteed to garner a ton of Instagram likes, it’s no wonder to me those towns with no industry aside from tourism can still survive, if not prosper.
It would be comforting and exciting to see Flin Flon share some degree of that kind of prosperity.
I noticed a flip side to tourism during this trip as well.
Out exploring some of my favourite stomping grounds in the mountains, I found that several areas that had previously promised quiet and solitude were now signed and teeming with – gasp – tourists.
The irony is not lost on me that we were also, now, tourists.
I used to roll my eyes at people who lived in mountain towns and complained about tourists. These out of town visitors were the very thing that helped those towns thrive.
I must admit, though, I was slightly irked to find people packing small beaches I once frequented for their deserted shores and the roads to top secret escapes lined with vehicles.
Most things in life come as a trade off for something else – maybe for places that boast natural beauty, the prosperity that comes from tourism is traded for opening the community and sharing beloved spots with visitors, and that’s a fairly easy trade off to make.