Saska­toon his­toric sites re­flect the city’s di­verse peo­ple and ar­chi­tec­ture.

Canada's History - - CONTENTS - by Jac­quie D. Du­rand

Ex­plor­ing Saska­toon’s boomtown era.

SASKA­TOON, KNOWN AS THE BRIDGE CITY, iron­i­cally got its start due to a de­sire to stop the flow of an­other liq­uid — al­co­hol.

Aviva Ko­hen, me­dia di­rec­tor at Tourism Saska­toon, said that “seven bridges span the beau­ti­ful South Saskatchewan River, with eighty kilo­me­tres of trails, en­tic­ing vis­i­tors to ex­plore the many lo­cal trea­sures Saska­toon has to of­fer.”

In 1883, a group of Methodists left On­tario to es­tab­lish a “dry” com­mu­nity in the North-West Ter­ri­to­ries. Led by John Neil­son Lake, the set­tlers trav­elled by rail from Toronto to Moose Jaw, in mod­ern­day Saskatchewan, and then com­pleted their trip by horse-drawn cart.

Among the Methodists was Alexan­der (Sandy) Marr, of Wood­stock, On­tario. A stone­ma­son, he built a two-storey home for his fam­ily that to­day is a Saska­toon land­mark. Noted for its blend of Sec­ond Em­pire and pioneer-style ar­chi­tec­ture, the Marr Res­i­dence was des­ig­nated a mu­nic­i­pal her­itage prop­erty in 1982.Marr also built an­other his­toric build­ing in the city — the Lit­tle Stone School­house, which opened in 1888. It’s lo­cated to­day on the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan cam­pus.

Dur­ing the North­west Re­bel­lion of 1885, the Marr Res­i­dence was req­uisi- tioned for use as a field hos­pi­tal for the treat­ment of wounded sol­diers. The re­sis­tance was launched by lo­cal Métis peo­ples and their Indige­nous al­lies as a re­ac­tion to the en­croach­ment of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment on their tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries.

The five-month in­sur­gency came to a head in May 1885 at the Bat­tle of Ba­toche. At this com­mu­nity about seventy kilo­me­tres north­east of Saska­toon, more than 900 Cana­dian mili­tia troops fought 250 Métis fight­ers led by Louis Riel.

Af­ter three days of fight­ing, the mili­tia troops over­ran the Métis fight­ers, and on May 15 Riel sur­ren­dered. Charged with

high trea­son, Riel was con­victed, con­demned to death, and then hanged on Novem­ber 16, 1885.

The turn of the nine­teenth cen­tury saw an in­flux of Euro­pean im­mi­grants to the Saska­toon re­gion. This pe­riod is show­cased at the West­ern De­vel­op­ment Mu­seum’s 1910 Boomtown ex­hi­bi­tion. Saskatchewan’s West­ern De­vel­op­ment Mu­seum has lo­ca­tions in Saska­toon, Moose Jaw, North Bat­tle­ford, and York­ton. The Saska­toon branch ex­plores the boom pe­riod of the early 1900s through a re­cre­ation of a streetscape fea­tur­ing his­tor­i­cal busi­nesses.

The 1910 boomtown street con­tin­ues to grow with ad­di­tions such as the Ed­wards Fu­neral Home, which por­trays the ever-present re­al­ity of grief and death. Other ex­hibits in the mu­seum ex­plore the im­por­tance of train travel and au­to­mo­biles to the growth of the province.

An­other Saska­toon mu­seum com­mem- orates the con­tri­bu­tions of Ukrainian set­tlers. The Ukrainian Mu­seum of Canada was founded in 1936 by the Ukrainian Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada. It was the first Ukrainian mu­seum in the coun­try. The main gallery houses an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of hand-painted Easter eggs and, among other his­tor­i­cal items, tra­di­tional cloth­ing for daily wear or for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Saska­toon’s Rivers­dale dis­trict is home to many in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses. Vis­i­tors will see a wide dis­play of ar­chi­tec­tural styles and her­itage prop­er­ties.

A high­light for me was the Roxy Theatre, built in 1930 and dec­o­rated in the Span­ish villa style with small bal­conies, win­dows, and tow­ers de­picted on the walls.

An­other must-see is the his­toric Delta Bess­bor­ough ho­tel — lov­ingly known to lo­cals as the “Bessie” — which was built in the château style be­tween 1928 and 1932. Hint: Ask about the ho­tel’s res­i­dent ghost.

For a day trip just out­side the city, we vis­ited Wanuskewin Her­itage Park, which cel­e­brates the his­tory and cul­ture of Saskatchewan’s Indige­nous peo­ples.

While there, we were es­corted on a medicine walk along a six-kilo­me­tre trail wend­ing through mead­ows, hills, and val­leys. We learned about the many medic­i­nal plants — such as box­wood, dan­de­lion, laven­der, and chamomile — as they are found in their nat­u­ral habi­tat.

We also took part in a tipi sleep­over. Af­ter we re­ceived in­struc­tions on how to cor­rectly erect an au­then­tic tipi, our guide in­formed us with a wry smile that “the tricky part is com­plet­ing the base­ment.”

I rose at first light from my tipi to the melodic sounds of birds and other wildlife. It was the per­fect end­ing to a per­fect trip. I left Saska­toon de­ter­mined to re­turn and to con­tinue ex­plor­ing one of Canada’s best-kept secrets.

CTah­petioS­nouth Saskatchewan River flows through down­town Saska­toon.

Above: The Delta Bess­bor­ough ho­tel, seen in the fore­ground, is an iconic land­mark in the city.

Left: Vis­i­tors ex­plore a replica of a store at 1910 Boomtown, an in­door rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a typ­i­cal Saskatchewan town at the West­ern De­vel­op­ment Mu­seum in Saska­toon.

Right: The Roxy Theatre, built in 1930, fea­tures Span­ish Villa-style dec­o­ra­tion on its in­te­rior.

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