Everybody likes the stories a map can tell

It was the map that caught my attention, as maps usually do.

The big book of old Western Producers was sitting open on a table in the newsroom, revealing the back page of the May 7, 1964, edition and the front page of the May 14 paper.

The front page featured a variety of headlines, while the back page was a full page Saskatchewan Wheat Pool ad encouraging producers to vote for a provincial hog marketing plan.

I’m not sure which page my colleague had been interested in when he or she left the book open, but it was the ad on the back page that made me stop for another look.

And that was all because of the big map that took up more than three-quarters of the page.

I don’t know what it is about maps, but I for one can never get enough of them. It probably has something to do with how they can make sense of our world in a way that no other medium can accomplish.

In the case of the map in the Sask Pool ad, its main purpose was to show farmers the location of the polling stations at which they could vote in the hog marketing plebiscite.

However, it also marked what I assume were all of the Sask Pool elevators in Saskatchewan — and boy, were there ever a lot of them in 1964.

I’m a sucker for this kind of thing and can easily spend more time than I can afford tracing rail lines with my finger and making note of all the communities that barely exist anymore.

It was also interesting to note the small red circles that I assume marked the polling stations. The ad copy said there were 250, so I didn’t have to count them, but it was impressive to see them spread out across the province.

It made me think yet again about how times have changed.

Today when a farmer plebiscite is conducted, the organizers certainly don’t set up 250 polling stations. More than likely, they do it by mail, snail or otherwise.

And if it’s not already being done to some extent, soon these kinds of votes could also be done on the web.

The world has definitely shrunk from 250 polling stations.

It was a lot for this copy editor to think about — and all because of a map.

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