Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were treated to a unique look at what for some is Terra Incognita, our great (in more ways than one) northern neighbor, Canada…specifically, Dennis Guenther’s home province of Alberta (along with Saskatchewan and Manitoba, known as the Prairie Provinces). Names familiar to travelers, such as Lake Louise and Banff, Medicine Hat and Calgary shared map space with Nanuvut and PEI in sketching Canada as a whole and a quick historical outline pointed out the Native American–Cree, Chippewa, Blackfoot, etc.– background as well as the early French and British settlers and fur traders’ influence on the formation of the nation. Alberta became an official province as part of that nation in 1905.One Canadian icon with which many in the U.S. are familiar is the RCMP–Royal Canadian Mounted Police–the Mounties, who always get their man; they were established in 1873, originally to deal with whisky and gun issues as pertaining to the Native American peoples, both on and off the reservations. They still operate as the national police force, still mounted, with a showpiece unit called the “Musical Ride” which appears when pageantry and precision are on display.The 1890’s saw vast numbers of immigrants come to Canada, just as they did to the “lower 48” in the U.S., many Americans, many ethnic, language and religious groups. Economic changes came with the opening of cattle and grain farms of giant proportions as well as the railroads to take these goods to markets all over the world. Another economic factor entered with the discovery of oil in 1914; this factor got another boost in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s when additional oil and gas deposits were found. By 1990, eighty-one per cent of Canada’s oil was being drawn from this area, much of it being exported to the United States. By 2006 over 1.25 million bbl of oil–much of it from the Athabaska oil sands–was coming from Alberta…and supporting an excellent universal health care system in addition to a list of outstanding universities and colleges.Named for Princess Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria, the Province of Alberta has a distinctly conservative political aspect in the capital of Edmonton and a more “frontier-flavored” visage in Calgary–home of ”the Stampede” and many of its tourist attractions. It’s where many western movies are shot and it’s where the “Chinook” winds can change the temperature more than fifty degrees in a flash…or a breeze.Hi, neighbor!