As wood-crib grain elevators are torn down, pumpjacks are taking their place as the new fixture of the prairie landscape. Amid the ravages of rural decline, promises of prosperity during the recent oil boom breathed renewed life into old constructs of the Last Best West, spurring a wave of migration and minting millionaires in towns with skyrocketing rents and over stressed infrastructure.
From the sea-can motel on the outskirts of Estevan to the seismic testing sites on Thunderchild First Nation’s Sundance grounds, this series of images captured during the height of the boom considers the ways in which the oil economy is remaking the spatial and cultural landscape of Saskatchewan. More than a lament for a pastoral plains, these images testify to a moment of transition and urges viewers to consider the complexities and consequences of rural communities’ engagement with the oil economy.
These images are excerpted from Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy by the University of Manitoba Press
Photography By Valerie Zink