Sask. photographer reminding people to respect private property when wandering the province

A rural photographer is reminding people to be considerate when exploring Saskatchewan this summer. 

Chris Attrell has been photographing rural Saskatchewan for almost two decades. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a lot of posts on social media inspiring people to get out to rural spots. 

Attrell said it can be even more meaningful when you befriend the person who owns the land. 

“When you get permission you get the story behind the place sometimes,” he said. “Most times it’s generational — passed down.” 

Attrell said he usually keeps in touch and shares his photographs with the landowners as a thank you. 

Getting permission also means people can find out what may be a danger in a location, Attrell said. He gave an example of a photographer in Alberta who died from falling in an abandoned well while out photographing a rural location. 

For people wanting to explore, Attrell suggests just picking a road and driving. He said there are many places around the province that a person can visit. 

“There is something exciting about a road trip but exploring your own province. But you’ve got to do it responsibly,” he said. 

Chris Attrell said his photos are a way to give people a glimpse into Saskatchewan’s history and relive old memories. (Chris Attrell)

Saskatoon man starts getaways guide

A man in Saskatoon has pulled from personal experience and the internet to put together a list of getaways, UFO hotspots and haunted houses. He is now selling it for $20.

“I just figured maybe it’s a good time to share it with people,” Jeremy Miller said. 

Miller said usually he works in the service industry but he isn’t now because of COVID-19. He said his list has been a labour of love.

He started the Facebook page on April 16.

“We already have about 4,000 followers, so there’s a lot of interest there. I would say 99 per cent of the people are all excited,” Miller said. 

He said he’s not advising people to travel when there are COVID-19 restrictions and instead providing options for when it’s safe to go outside. 

Attrell said he’s concerned travel guides like Miller’s people, which gives out GPS locations of private properties, will encourage people to trespass.  

“You are giving G.P.S. locations to people’s private property without seeking their permission. And it’s pretty easy to understand how this could become a very huge problem in Saskatchewan,” Attrell said. 

Miller said he contacted two of the landowners in his list of 11 ghost towns and they both asked for a disclaimer.

The top of his guide says, “DISCLAIMER: Many of the following locations are situated on private property. Always get permission from the property owner before entering.”

Miller said he was contacted by the owner of some private property that appeared in a photo in his list. He said the person asked him to stop using the photo, and Miller plans to comply in the future.

He said he’s visited many places but stayed on roads so as to not trespass and suggests others do the same. 

“I’m not telling people to go onto private property to do anything. I’ve just basically cataloged in a directory of all the cool sites in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Attrell suggests that if a person is looking for the owner of a piece of rural property, they should try local shops like a cafe, library, museum or post office and ask around. 

“It really isn’t that hard if you’re patient you can usually just sit on the grid road. You can go visit the nearest farmhouse and ask who owns it,” he said. 

Miller said his list also includes 16 haunted places and some UFO hotspots because he has an interest in the paranormal. 

“I just want to include everything that I thought was cool,” Miller said. 

Jeremy Miller’s list includes advice for how to spot UFOs and places to spot them in the province. (Off-Grid Saskatchewan Getaways Guide)

Miller said he is charging $20 because of the effort to put the guide together. 

“At the same time by charging a fee that kind of cuts down on the amount of people that are getting all these places to, right?” Miller said. “It’s the whole point of having these personal little secret locations or beaches or things that you visit that a lot of people don’t know about it.”

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