The Halls of Academe: Education in Saskatchewan

Prissy rules for school marms  

Shalts and shalt-nots in 1915:

Drawing of school teacher, seated
Drawing by Ruth Millar

They mustn’t marry during the term of their contracts.

They had to be home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. except if they were attending school-related functions.

They must not “keep company” with men.

They mustn’t loiter at the ice cream parlours downtown.

They needed permission from the school board chairman to go beyond city limits.

They couldn’t ride in a carriage or auto with any man except their fathers or brothers.

They couldn’t smoke anything, or chew snuff.

They couldn’t dress in bright colours.

They must not dye their hair.

They had to wear at least two petticoats.

Dresses couldn’t be shorter than two inches above the ankle.

They had to build a fire at 7 a.m., sweep the floor daily, scour it weekly, and clean blackboards every day.

School daze

Life in a typical one-room school in the 1940s

Former students in schools in the Hepburn area reported peculiar hassles

The furnace spewed out smoke but little heat, because the chimney assembly was flawed.

With no electricity in the schools and teacherage, kerosene lamps provided meagre light on dark, dreary winter days.

Candle-lit Christmas trees were always perilous. The clothes of one careless Santa Claus were set aflame as he hovered near the tree handing out presents.

Once the stage collapsed with all the class assembled on it. Luckily, there were no casualties.

A horrid odour was traced to a sewage leak.

A fire escape in the shape of a metal cylinder offered engaging playtime possibilities, predating by decades waterslides in modern swimming pools.

A pond sprang up in a corner of a schoolyard during the spring thaw, leading to “disastrous rafting expeditions.” One teacher’s Model T got stuck in the pond.

Speaking German was verboten for Mennonite children. The penalty was to be kept after school and write “I will speak English only” two hundred times on the blackboard.

And of course, outhouses were a favourite target for Halloween pranksters.

High school then and now

Things baby boomers who graduated from high school in the late 1960s might notice in public high schools today:

Students now use lap tops, multiple-app iPads and smart phones in place of the ball-point pens, ring binders and pocket calculators used in the 1960s, while teachers nowadays mostly use whiteboards, felt markers, and online instructional videos, instead of blackboards-plus-chalk and 16 mm. film and overhead projectors then used as instructional aids.

Digital data processing has replaced manual arranging and typing of reports, while clear, readable handouts and assignments–reproduced on photocopiers—have, thankfully, replaced the faded purple ones commonly run off on messy spirit duplicators.

Individual and group projects have replaced class lectures and teacher-led discussions as the main ways to learn, while continuous evaluation by teachers has largely replaced final standard exams as the chief way to assess student progress.

Printed sources and the internet have generally replaced prescribed text books and cumbersome encyclopedias as go-to resources, while some high schools have since specialized in areas such as fine arts, applied sciences or a particular sport, for which extra materials, facilities and instruction are provided.

The curriculum now emphasizes First Nations culture and issues, recognizing a need to provide more EAL (English as an Additional Language) classes for recent immigrant children—rather than to offer more French (as a second language) classes.

Required courses now focus on moulding responsible world citizens and stewards of the environment, and shaping students into productive, contributing Canadians.

No-no’s such as passing notes and chewing gum have been eclipsed by bans on cell phones and texting in class, while issues such as baseball caps in class have superseded rules forbidding long Beatle haircuts or shirts without collars.

More serious concerns now are the escalating use of street drugs and on-line bullying by students, as opposed to smoking and crude language on the school grounds. 

The internet and photocopiers have now – unfortunately – led to more cases of plagiarism and of teachers violating copyright laws, than in the old days.

Questions on accommodating gender diversity (i.e. by providing gender-neutral washrooms) have now largely replaced ticklish ones such as whether sex education was a public school responsibility.

If upheld, a recent court decision to disallow proportional government funding for non-Catholic students transferring to Catholic separate schools will significantly affect future public and separate school systems.


Largest high schools in Saskatchewan

(Ranking based on 2018-19 SHSAA enrolment projections)

1. Campbell Collegiate, Regina                                   

2. Carlton Comprehensive, Prince Albert                

3. Holy Cross High School, Saskatoon                       

4. Walter Murray Collegiate, Saskatoon                

5. St. Mary High School, Prince Albert                   

6. Bethlehem High School, Saskatoon

7. St. Joseph High School, Saskatoon                         

8. Swift Current Comprehensive, Swift Current    

9. Aden Bowman Collegiate, Saskatoon    

10. Miller Comprehensive, Regina                            

11.Archbishop M. C. O’Neil, Regina 

12. Tommy Douglas Collegiate, Saskatoon

13. Winston Knoll Collegiate, Regina

14. Evan Hardy Collegiate, Saskatoon

15. Dr. M. LeBoldus High School, Regina

16. North Battleford Comprehensive, North Battleford

17. Yorkton Regional

18. Thom Collegiate, Regina      

19. Weyburn Comprehensive

20. Martin Collegiate, Regina

21. Holy Rosary High School Comprehensive, Lloydminster

Outstanding teachers

Recipients of the annual Arbos Award for Contributions to Education and the Teaching Profession, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation’s highest honours.

[There were no 2007 or 2018 nominees]

2000 Eileen Hartman (Leader).               2010 Ken Marland (Saskatoon).

2001 Joanne Schnurr (Grenfell).             2011 Phyllis Fowler (Saskatoon).

2002 Elaine Hanson (Outlook)                2012 Joyce Hoffman (Waldeck

2003 Sharon Armstrong (Wynyard.)      2013 Darren Cannell (Saskatoon).

2004 Shirley Dyck (Neville).                    2014 Jack Seel (Saskatoon).     

2005 Earle Robertson (Saskatoon).        2015 Starla Grebinski (Regina).

2006 Al Kessler (Assiniboia).                   2016 Charlene Rudderham, Regina  

2008 Joyce Vandall (Regina).                   2017 Joan Hill (Lloydminster).

2009 Norm Stonehouse (Saskatoon)

Colleges and universities

Universities – scientific and educational dynamos

Head receiving ideas - illustration by Ruth Millar for
Illustration by Ruth Millar

Our universities are a sparkplug for educational, cultural, scientific and even social activity. They host musical concerts and theatre, art exhibitions, open houses, conventions and international conferences, and rousing talks by guest lecturers.  Many of these events are open to all.

University libraries are treasure troves, and even those who are not grads have access to their resources through inter-library loan. Historically the U of S promoted adult education and lifelong learning through its Extension Division, now defunct.

Universities create an atmosphere of cultural and intellectual ferment. We have three of them: The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the University of Regina, and the First Nations University based in Regina.

Nowadays Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning offers a vast smorgasbord of inexpensive courses – sans exams, sans term papers, sans theses. The instructors tend to be professors and grad students who revel in the enthusiasm of senior students. Some of the grey-haired SSCL “students” are profs themselves, some are just plain folks who never had the luxury of a university education.

Other forms of post-secondary education are more geographically accessible (see below).

Some U of S alumni statistics (2016)

150,000 alumni around the world

111,413 live in Canada

3,192 live in the U.S.

2,528 live in other countries

40 percent of university grads living in Saskatchewan are U of S alumni

69 USask students, faculty and students died in W.W. I

The College of Arts and Science has the most alumni of all colleges on campus

[Green &White fall 2016]


University of Saskatchewan

1907: Enabling act to establish the university was passed by the provincial government April 3.

1909: First classes in Arts and Science began with seventy students September 28, on the top floor of Drinkle Building No. 1 in downtown Saskatoon.

Education building at U of S campus
Education building at U of S campus. Photo by Ruth Millar.

1910: Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier laid the cornerstone for the College of Agriculture Building, launching construction on the new campus. It was later named the Administration Building. Today an enormous glass building on campus houses the College of Agriculture.

1910 on: Architects Vallance and Brown of Montreal designed the campus proper, and the first buildings on it.

1912 on: Other early faculties in the teen years were agriculture in 1912, engineering 1912, law 1913, pharmacy 1914, and commerce 1917.

1920: The university newspaper, the Sheaf, began to publish weekly.

1925: The Engineering Building was razed by fire.

1928: The Memorial Gates were dedicated to the sixty-nine faculty and students who perished in World War I (of 345 who served in that war.)

1934: Regina College became part of the university as a junior college.

1935: Henry Taube, the only U of S graduate to receive a Nobel laureate (1987) received his B. Sc., and two years later his M. Sc. He was rubbing shoulders with greatness: his thesis advisor was John Spinks and he studied with guest professor Gerhard Herzberg, who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in chemistry. 

1936: St. Thomas More College took shape, providing arts classes to Roman Catholic students. 

1932: The Broadway Bridge opened in Saskatoon, the brainchild of engineering dean C.J. Mackenzie, later president of the National Research Council, and the first president of Atomic Energy of Canada in Ottawa.

1939-45: 2,500 U of S students enlisted in World War II; 202 of them died in the war.

1952: The university conferred its first PhD degree.

1955: Tommy Douglas laid the cornerstone for the new University Hospital (later renamed the Royal University Hospital).

1963: The Western College of Veterinary Medicine was launched.

1964: In early years teachers were trained at “normal schools”; in 1927 the College of Education was formed; in 1964 the two teachers’ colleges shifted to the university campuses in Saskatoon and Regina.

1968: Classes began at the new College of Dentistry.

1970: The new Education Building officially opened, featuring a swimming pool, library, gym and two 100-seat classrooms.

1990, 1996, 1998: The Huskie football team won three national Vanier Cup championships.

1991: The imposing new glass-faced College of Agriculture Building opened. It took three years to build.

2016: The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre for Indigenous students, designed by Douglas Cardinal, opened on campus. 

[Spinks, 214-18 citing university calendar of 1974; issues of the Green & White]


University of Regina

1911: Regina College was founded by the Methodist Church, with just twenty-seven students.

1925: Regina College became a “junior college” when it affiliated with the U of S, and offered arts and science courses.

1931: The College was “disaffiliated” from church auspices to those of the U of S.

1961: Regina College became University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus with full degree-granting status.

1963: Sod was turned for the first buildings at Wascana Centre.

1964: Campion College became a federated arts college of the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. Originally formed in 1917 as Regina’s Catholic college, it offered undergraduate arts courses in arts, sciences and fine arts.

1968: Luther College, affiliated with the Lutheran Church, federated with the U of S, Regina Campus. Construction on a new building began that year.

1973: A Royal Commission under Justice Emmett Hall studied the possibility of splitting the U of S and its Regina campus into two separate entities.   

1974: University of Regina was formed as an independent university. It included faculties of arts, sciences, engineering, social work, administration, journalism, graduate studies, human justice, and others.

1976:  Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC) was born, independent although its standards had to meet those of the university. Later renamed, it is the only “Indian-controlled academic institution in Canada.”

2003: SIFC became the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC). Though it is independent, it functions as a federated college.

Some firsts at our universities

The University of Saskatchewan started with the College of Agriculture, the first university in Canada to do so.

Ellis Hall, near the Royal University Hospital, was the first building on campus named after a woman.

The Drama Department, with Emrys Jones at the helm, was launched at the U of S, the first in Canada to grant degrees in drama.

The U of S appointed Canada’s first full-time cancer physicist, Harold Johns in 1945.

The first Betatron in Canada was installed, in 1948.

Royal University Hospital at the U of S was Canada’s first teaching hospital to offer a psychiatric ward for psychotics, where patients were not restrained.

The first Aboriginal person to graduate from the U of S law school was probably William Wuttunee.

The Native Law centre, opened at U of S in 1976, was the first in the country.

The first Doukhobor to graduate in law was Peter G. Makaroff, QC.

The first native woman to graduate from the U of S is said to be Annie Maude (Nan) McKay, in 1915.

Dr. Lillian Dyck, academic and senator. Photo from University of Saskatchewan Archives.

U of S alumna Lillian Dyck was the first Chinese-First Nations woman to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.  

Provincial Archives Saskatoon office was the first one located on a university campus. As of December 2018, it was relocated to Regina, much to the chagrin of researchers.

The University of Saskatchewan was the first of fifteen research universities to be awarded two Canada First Research Excellent Funds (CFREFs). Based on the number of research chairs, the U of S is one of the UI5 Group of Canadian Research Universities, the fifteen most research-intensive universities in Canada.

The Canadian Light Source Synchrotron on the U of S campus in 2004 was Canada’s first and only. It was called the “largest science project ever undertaken in Canada,” and is still a mecca for researchers.

[Houston; ….;]

Other paths to learning  

Post-secondary institutions

Other educational institutions teach a wide spectrum of courses in the trades, adult basic education, and even university level:

Federated college programs are integrated with those of our two universities but the colleges are legally and financially independent. They include Campion (U of R), Luther (U of R), St. Thomas More (U of S), and First Nations University of Canada (FNUC or FNUniv) (U of R).

Affiliated colleges are connected to universities but their academic menus differ: St. Peter’s College, Muenster; Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport; College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, Saskatoon; Horizon College & Seminary, Saskatoon; Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon; St. Andrew’s College (Saskatoon).

“Regional colleges” are scattered around the province. The 2011 Regional College Review lists seven of them in Saskatchewan: Carlton Trail, Northland, Great Plains, Cumberland, Parkland, Northwest and Southeast — plus an agreement for Saskies in the Lloydminster area to attend Lakeland Regional College in Alberta.

Indigenous education colleges other than FNUC (formerly Saskatchewan Indian Federated College) include: Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Gabriel Dumont Institute Training & Employment Inc.

Saskatchewan Polytech has campuses at Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon, plus distance education programs. It has historically been called by several acronyms such as SIAST and KIAST.

Career colleges (private vocational training programs) train students for jobs in a rainbow of fields: business, broadcasting, massage therapy, spas, theatre, recording arts, animal grooming, fashion, and some generalized ones. Two time-tested ones are Saskatoon Business College, and the RCMP Training Academy.  

The Economy: Taking Care of Business

The Economy: Taking Care of Business

Diversity sustains us

Things you might not know about our economy

Vancouver’s Fraser Institute, a thinktank appealing to investors, thinks we’re hot – at least in mining potential. In 2018 their mining study ranked Saskatchewan numero uno in “investment attractiveness” in Canada, and third in the world.

Saskatchewan has become the Number Two oil-producing province in the country, producing 15 percent of Canada’s crude. Mining and energy production make up about 21 percent of Saskatchewan’s GDP.

Our province produces about 33 percent of the world’s potash and about 22 percent of its high-grade uranium.

Saskatchewan produces more than a third of Canada’s energy.

We have 11.7 million hectares in our “commercial forest zone,” of which 5.3 million hectares can be commercially harvested for timber.

Agriculture and forestry make up about 7 percent of Saskatchewan’s GDP.

Manufacturing accounts for about 7 percent of our GDP.

Some of our most surprising products are used in the aerospace and defence sectors, including satellite communications technology.

The service sector yields most of our province’s GDP and jobs: retail sales, health care, transport, communications, education and research.

About one third of Saskatchewan’s export income comes from food products.

Saskatchewan sends 55 percent of its products to the U.S.A., and 85 percent of our imports originate there.

Saskatchewan is the country’s biggest producer of oats, which is not only used to make porridge, but also cookies, apple crisp and a trendy new milk-like product.

[; StarPhoenix 3 October 2018. Oats: CBC Radio, 7 November 2019]

Where have all the farmers gone?

a prairie scene
Graphic from

(How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?) Many did leave, others migrated to towns and cities, but many stayed. The farms are still there, fewer in number, but vast in size.

Early on, homesteaders were grabbing up “free” land offered by the government, but they usually started with only 160 acres, a quarter section. Over time, up-and-coming farmers took out pre-emptions and bought more land. Gradually farms expanded in size but shrank in number: In 1901 there were only 13,711 farms (or perhaps fewer) averaging 291 acres each. The number of farms peaked in 1941 at 138,173 with an average 550 acres each.

With slick new seeding and harvesting equipment, powerful fertilizers and insecticides, and improved farm practices, farmers could harvest way bigger crops. Successful ones began to expand their holdings and built super-farms, and set up family corporations to run them. By 2001, there were 50,598 at an average acreage of 1283. Now farmhouses have the same conveniences as city houses.

But often farm kids, when they grew up, answered the siren call of cities and left the farms; many went to college and became professionals. Many left the province too. A few intrepid would-be farmers took up small landholdings and began to grow market gardens or odd animals like yaks.  

Hamlets that used to dot the countryside had grown up around the ubiquitous grain elevators. When country elevators fizzled (for reasons to do with grain marketing) hamlet-ites deserted and moved to large towns and cities. Ghost hamlets are depressing, but in other cases farmers bought the land, knocked down decrepit buildings, and farmed the land underneath them.

In 1901, only 16 percent of our people were city folk, and 84 percent rural dwellers. By 1951, 30 percent were city slickers, and by 2001, 64 percent.

Sometimes clusters of people who loved the land but didn’t really want to farm, bought vacant buildings and set up their own little colonies of like-minded people. You can meet fascinating people in these places, especially artists and writers.  

On farms and in towns, shopping habits were reshaped. As smoother roads replaced gumbo, and trusty new cars replaced balky old Tin Lizzies, people drove to the cities to buy what they needed, or they ordered it from the internet. Try to buy a book other than a tourist guide in a small town, and you’re out of luck.

Yellow field, abandoned buildings on horizon.
An apparently-abandoned farmstead
in southwest Saskatchewan.
Photo by Alastair Mirrlees.

This metamorphosis had the unfortunate effect of making the countryside look abandoned and forlorn. But there’s life in them thar hills and plains. Many “snowbirds” fly to warmer climes in winter, but those that remain behind live dynamic lives. A former member of the Biggar community, for example, says our towns have active arts and education communities. “There was dance, theatre, crafts, music, a community college, art gallery, museum, library, community service clubs and a hockey rink and a curling rink.”

[Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan: Agriculture article by Prof. Gary Storey; Statistics Canada and Saskatchewan government stats; personal recollections]

Big fish in the pond

Some large Saskatchewan-based companies

Nutrien (head office Saskatoon) is by far the largest multinational company in the province.  It was formed in 2017 with the merger of PotashCorp, the world’s largest potash producer, and Agrium, a major supplier of farm products.

Canpotex Ltd. (head office Saskatoon) co-ordinates the sales of potash produced by the Nutrien and Mosaic companies to dozens of offshore markets.

Federated Co-operatives (head office Saskatoon) purchases and distributes goods and services for over 300 member co-ops across western Canada.

Brandt Group of Companies (head office Regina) began when Peter Brandt, electrician, began manufacturing in the 1930s. Since expanded by the Semple family, it is now an international farm, construction and forestry equipment dealer, with outlets across North America and export sales to Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Hill Group of Companies (head office Regina): In 1903, W.A. Hill and E.A. McCallum formed McCallum Hill, a Regina insurance and real estate firm. It now entails resource manufacturing, broadcasting and management, as well as real estate, throughout western Canada and the U.S.

Concorde Group of Companies (head office Saskatoon) was founded in 1972 by Les Dube, a Saskatoon grocer, and his wife Irene. The Dube family now oversees development, real estate and management companies across Canada.

Morris Industries Ltd. (head office Saskatoon) began with the rod weeders George Morris, a mechanic in Bangor, began manufacturing in 1932.  From its first plant in Yorkton, the company expanded the range of innovative farm implements made in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota.

AGT Food and Ingredients (head office Regina): is a lentil-processing firm founded in 2002 by Davidson-born Murad AlKatib. It now employs over 2,000 workers and has forty plants in five countries, and markets its products to 120 countries.

Corporate impresarios

Some Saskie founders of corporations based elsewhere

Calvin Ayre, a Lloydminster-born entrepreneur, struck it rich in 2000 with Bodog, an online sports gambling company based in Costa Rica. Enforcement of American Unlawful Internet Gambling legislation caused him to shut down Bodog in 2011 and he has since focused on other Ayre Group entertainment enterprises.

Samuel Bronfman, a former Wapella area homesteader, set up a booming liquor-export firm in Yorkton at the end of the Great War. In 1924 he merged it with Seagram’s Distilleries in Montreal. Under his successors, the company became one of the largest liquor companies in the world, with major interests in the American film and television industry.

Murray Edwards, born in Regina and a graduate of the U of S, launched Calgary-based  Canadian Natural Resources , which has financed oil production in Africa and the North Sea, plus the oil sands in northern Alberta.He is also co-owner of the Calgary Flames. The Murray Edwards School of Business was named for him, in recognition of a hefty donation to the U of S.

Ernie Poole, a carpenter who began contracting in Stoughton in 1913, restructured his growing company as Poole Construction when he moved it to Edmonton in the 1930s. Sold to former employees in 1978, PCL Construction now has 4,000 workers, and now has offices in Australia and throughout North America.

Jimmy Pattison, born in Saskatoon, has gone from selling cars to running the Vancouver-based Jim Pattison Group which includes auto dealerships, TV and radio, real estate and chain stores in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.  Saskatoon’s new children’s hospital was named for him, after he donated $500 million toward its construction.

Rahul Sharma, a U of S grad, cofounded Micromax, the second-largest smartphone maker in India.

Brett Wilson, born in North Battleford and a U of S graduate, was a co-founder in 1993 of the Calgary-based First Energy Corporation, an investment banking firm that financed energy companies around the world. He made a million-dollar donation to the U of S to establish the Brett Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence.


Saskatchewan labour leaders

Honorέ Jaxon (William Jackson) was the former secretary of Louis Riel’s council in 1888. In 1909 he acted as spokesman for striking sewer diggers in Saskatoon. A city rep called him “obnoxious” for being an effective negotiator in conciliation talks.

Tom McEwen - illustration by Ruth Millar
Tom McEwen – illustration by Ruth Millar

Tom McEwen (or Ewen) worked as a blacksmith in Swift Current, then as a “smithy” for Richardson Road Machinery in Saskatoon in the 1920s.  After being embroiled in a strike at RRM in 1927, he helped form the Workers’ Unity League (the trade union arm of the Communist Party of Canada. As an organizer of the On-to-Ottawa trek in 1935, he was imprisoned following the Regina riot that July 1st.

Sam Scarlett came as a harvester to Saskatoon in the 1920s, where later he was an organizer for the International Workers of the World (IWW), then the Workers’ Unity League. In 1931 he helped Bienfait coal miners form a local of the Mine Workers of Canada. He got a year in the clinker for his part in a miners’ protest in Estevan that September, that led to a violent clash with police.

Anne Buller, a fiery speaker and Workers’ Unity League organizer of the needle trades in western Canada, harangued the Bienfait area miners about their poor wages and housing. She was found guilty of inciting a riot that followedin Estevan, and was sentenced to a year at hard labour in the Battleford jail.

Hub Elkin was swept up in the labour movement in the 1930s while working for eighteen cents an hour for Swift’s Meat Packers in Moose Jaw. He was founder and first president (1944-49) of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL). Later he served as CUPE rep in negotiating contracts between workers and employers.

Barb Byers, a former social worker, waded into labour issues during a strike by government workers in 1979. Women’s rights, poverty and youth unemployment remained her priorities as president of SGEU, and then the SFL.

Labour activist, academic and writer Glen Makahonuk. Photo from University of Saskatchewan Archives
& Special Collections.

Glen Makahonuk, a historian and U of S librarian, served as president of CUPE Local 175 for eleven years, then as president of CUPE Saskatchewan from 1993 until his death in 1997. As a union executive he worked to improve the lives of its members. As an academic he grabbed every chance to educate others about labour issues.

Larry Hubnick was a principal in the Grain Services Union (GSU) from 1973 to 1982 while working at the Wheat Pool’s IT division and serving as a GSU staff rep for twenty years. He battled the provincial government over workers’ right to strike, a position upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015, which struck down the Essential Services Act.

Sizzling strikes  

Labour unrest in Saskatchewan

A few walkouts that made history

In 1884 railway workers went on strike at Broadview and Regina to protest living conditions while building the CPR main line. The NWMP kept the peace until agreements were reached between the men and railway officials on these sites.

In 1906 sewer diggers in Saskatoon struck, demanding a wage increase from $2 to $2.50 a day. City officials provided better shovels and safety measures, but not a wage hike.

In May and June 1919 during the Winnipeg General Strike, over a thousand Saskatoon workers including postmen, machinists, plumbers, teamsters and other workers went on strike in sympathy with the Winnipeg workers. The Saskatoon strikers remained out for about a month until the Winnipeg conflict was resolved.

A famous strike in 1927 involved thirty-seven “smithy workers” at Richardson Road Machinery demanding union recognition, a wage hike and better working conditions.  Lasting eleven months, it was the longest strike in the 1920s.

Estevan coal miners’ strike: In 1931, Bienfait miners joined the Mine Workers’ Union of Canada, part of the militant Workers’ Unity League. First they struck for union recognition, so they could push to have their wages, cut by the bosses, restored. The mine bosses refused, so the men protested, to enlist public support. The mayor ordered the Mounties and local gendarmes to halt the demonstration, but three miners died and many were injured in the September 29 ruckus.

Saskatoon’s first sit-down “strike” shocked Depression-ridden Saskatoon in November 1932, when fifty families refused to sign a draconian agreement for relief, and were cut off. The women staged a two-day sit-in at City Hall with their children. Finally the relief agreement was softened, and then ignored.  The press considered it almost blackmail.

For forty-one days in 1974, 1733 employees of the universities at Saskatoon and Regina went on strike, their first, to demand better wages and benefits. That year it was the biggest walkout in the Canadian education sector. It was settled by conciliation in the end.

In the fall of 1994 Saskatoon municipal workers across the board (except for essential services such as firefighters) staged a city-wide, knock-down, drag-out work stoppage that started in mid August and lasted for ten weeks. It was the first time Saskatoon Public Library workers had ever walked out, having only formed a union in 1982.           .

Our economic engines

The times they’ve been a-changing

Before homesteaders started arriving, our economy was all about fur-bearing animals, buffalo meat and hides, and perhaps fishing. Horses steamboats and oxcarts ruled the plains as transport.

Then agriculture became our economic mainstay – as farmers grew grain mainly on the plains, and ranchers raised livestock on the curly grass of the rolling southern hills. Wheat was king, but other crops were grown too, particularly where dry soil thwarted farmers’ efforts.

By the 1920s, commercial fishing brought in about half a million dollars a year. Nowadays, sport fishing and commercial fishing compete with avid tourists for the tasty silvery creatures.

One of the plaques at the Gardiner Dam site.
Photo by Alastair Mirrlees.

After titanic hydro-electric projects watered dry areas near the South Saskatchewan River, vast irrigation equipment now advances across fields like a triumphant army, spraying life-giving water for irrigation.

The development of edible oil from canola (which formerly bore the unfortunate name of rape), heralded a new era in farming, around 1951. Now brilliant yellow fields colour the prairie patchwork in spring. By 1971 farmers diversified into pulse crops (lentils, dry peas and chickpeas), and specialty crops (triticale, mustard, canary seed, sunflowers).

Holy El Dorado!

Minerals and other subterranean moneybuckets

With serious probing by geologists, miners and prospectors, the earth between the surface has disgorged riches. For starters, we have become an energy powerhouse. with the most diverse primary energy resource base in Canada, says a government website,

Black gold – petroleum — is a “honey streak” we’ve long sought.  As early as 1874, oil drilling took place at Fort Pelly, and in 1944 crude oil was found in the Lloydminster area. But the most exciting find, after a stunning discovery in Alberta in 1957, was at the Bakkan oilfield in southeastern Saskatchewan, said to hold three billion barrels. Other primary oil-rich areas are Kindersley-Kerrobert, and Weyburn-Estevan. The first large oil refinery established in Saskatchewan was Imperial Oil in Regina. as of 2005 we have had the refinery in Regina (Federated Co-operatives), an asphalt refinery at Moose Jaw and a Husky Energy upgrading facility at Lloydminster. Since then Saskatchewan has become the Number Two oil-producing province, producing 15 percent of Canada’s crude. [See SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY section.]

Tommy Douglas opening Sask Power gas service
Tommy Douglas officially opening the Saskatchewan Power Corporation natural gas system, October 1, 1953. Photo B-14767 by Leonard Hillyard, from Local History Room,
Saskatoon Public Library.

Saskatchewan is Canada’s third biggest natural gas producer. It revolutionized the heating of buildings, and to a large extent weaned us off coal and wood in 1953. We produced 184 billion cubic feet in 2018, and almost two trillion cubic feet are thought to lurk below.

We supply about one third of the world’s uranium, exporting about 90 percent of what we unearth. It was first found in 1945 in the Beaverlodge area, and high-grade uranium in the Athabasca Basin in 1968. Uses of certain isotopes of uranium include energy production, radiotherapy and other medical applications, in smoke detectors, and as ballast in planes and boats. Our uranium is said to power about one in twenty homes in the U.S. Unfortunately, many of us are freaked out by its potential for blowing up the world.

Potash mine
Potash mine not far from Saskatoon in November 2019. Photo by Gerry Ackerman.

The discovery of potash came like a thunderclap. It was first found near Radville in 1943. The first underground mine was at Patience Lake east of Saskatoon in 1958, but Esterhazy has eclipsed it as our potash hotspot. It is used for fertilizer production, and we’ve become Canada’s biggest exporter of it, supplying about one-third of the world’s potash needs.

Salt flats
A salt mining area near Alsask.
Photo by Gerry Ackerman.

Salt is a by-product of potash mining, and can often be seen heaped in mounds beside potash mines. There is at least one company that produces salt commercially. Salt was first produced in 1920, at Senlac.   

Rare earth elements or REES are sometimes found near uranium deposits.  REES contain minerals used to make magnets for motors of electric and hybrid cars, in rechargeable batteries, fluorescent lights, plasma screens, space satellites – the list goes on. Unfortunately, REES are expensive to extract because of their rarity, and often get dumped in tailings ponds. Too bad.

The search for the golden money-pot is one of mankind’s most lasting quests. Retreating glaciers left deposits of gold, and between 1859 and 1918 the yellow stuff was extracted from the North Saskatchewan River using dredgers and sluice boxes. After prospectors again hit paydirt on the north shore of Lake Athabasca, the Goldfields mines were established in 1934. Star Lake near La Ronge has hosted a new gold mine since 1987. The Seabee Gold Operation, opened in 1991, is about 125 kms. northeast of La Ronge and in 2018 disgorged about 1.5 million ounces of gold. There’s also an eager search for gold at the so-called Glennie “greenstone belt.”  

We’ve got diamonds too. The first documented discovery of kimberlite, the magic rock that contains the dazzling crystals, happened at Sturgeon Lake in 1958. Bigger deposits of kimberlite have since been found at places like the one near Fort a la Corne, east of Prince Albert. And the search goes on.

Coal is becoming a dirty word, and — like smoking — we’re trying to quit, says the government. But our coal is the “clean” kind, if that’s any comfort. It was first unearthed in the Estevan area in 1857. SaskPower advises us that “coal is Saskatchewan’s largest supplier of power. We have three power plant facilities in Saskatchewan: Boundary Dam and Shand Power Stations … near Estevan, and Poplar River Power Station … near Coronach.”

Clay was being produced by 1886, not surprising since so much of Saskatchewan land is clay. The Claybank Brick Plant was famous, and fortunes were made in brickmaking.

Sodium sulphate is found in alkaline lakes. First mined at Muskiki Lake in 1918, it is used to make powdered laundry detergent, carpet deodorizers, starch and textiles, and in livestock feed, and pulp and paper. The five plants in our province make us the world’s fifth biggest producer of this useful product.

There’s more: North of Amisk (Beaver) Lake, copper, gold, silver and gold were mined in the 1920s by Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting. Copper and zinc were discovered in 1915 near the Manitoba border, and nickel, platinum and palladium, first found at Rottenstone Lake in 1928.

[Agriculture: Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan; Statistics Canada and Government of Saskatchewan Agricultural Statistics. Coal: SaskPower. Mining and fishing: Archer, Saskatchewan: The Story of a province, 201. Mineral sectors, “Philip Reeves, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, 618-19; Saskatchewan Mining Facts, 19 February 2013; multiple internet sources. Rare earth: earth-elements. Gold at Seabee:]

Harvesting trees and wild creatures

Maps showing blocks of forested areas suggest that forests make up more than half the province. (Commercially viable, not quite so much.) Those woods are a bonanza in terms of lumber products, making forestry northern Saskatchewan’s second biggest industry, which yields more than a billion dollars a year! Small wonder given the demands for materials from the construction industry. We have eight large companies and more than 210 small ones that churn out lumber and paper products.

Yes, Virginia, there is still a fur trade in Saskatchewan, though it’s highly regulated and you need licences for just about everything. The annual value for all pelts marketed, all species, was $5,517,133 in 2017-18. Oddly enough, coyote pelts brought in the biggest flood of dollars, $4,605,365, but those creatures coyotes were probably the most likely to be captured – 39,416 of ‘em at an average pelt price of $116. Bobcat pelts seem to be most coveted, at $232 each (but it seems they don’t live here very much anymore.) A skunk pelt only fetches $8.31, but a bear pelt might net you about $195. Just who buys these furs any more is a bit of a mystery.

Fur-coated animals in this province include badgers, black bears, beaver, cougar, arctic/red/silver/or cross foxes, lynx, marten, mink, otter and short-tailed weasels (more elegantly known as ermine.) There are all kinds of rules, although skunks, raccoons, coyotes and beaver can be hunted year-round if you have a license. But leave the swift foxes alone – they are a protected species.  

Trappers must be licenced and follow international rules for humane trapping, and  seasons for hunting and trapping are set by the government. You need a license to export pelts too. Just google it.

[Forestry: Wild fur products: Saskatchewan wild fur harvest and cash values]

Something fishy goin’ on (in a good way)

Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime, so the saying goes.

Gerry Ackerman with big fish
Gerry Ackerman of Saskatoon with a prize catch,

About one quarter of Saskatchewan people engage in fishing, and the recreational fishing industry spawns more than $350 million a year for the province.

Like trappers, fishermen need a licence. The government has a Fish Facts publication online, detailing species, size and population status, lake by lake – its even tells how to get to those sweet spots.

You need a permit to fish, and there are lots of rules. First Nations people may fish without a licence using a spear, bow and arrow, or by angling, if the fish are intended for their families’ food. But even with a licence, you’re not supposed to buy, sell or barter the fish you catch without permission.

The government keeps track of fish populations to assess changes from fishing practices, environmental conditions and “stocking.” From these data, they determine useful things about ages of fish caught, minimum sizes you may catch, and whether they are spawning, growing and surviving in a sustainable way.

The Fort Qu’Appelle Fish Culture station is a hundred-year-old fish hatchery that gives recreational fishing a boost by spawning millions of fish, native species and trout. After heavy fishing and winter’s hardships have taken their toll, this hatchery restocks Saskatchewan lakes, (We don’t want another vanishing cod situation.) The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation took over this fish farming operation from government oversight in 2015.

There are special regs for commercial fisheries too. Just google fisheries.

[….; Fort Qu’Appelle station: Regina Leader-Post 15 June 2015]

The manufacturing industry

High-tech tools for mining, farming and aerospace  

Too many products to mention, but some of the things we do include meat processing, oil refining, pulp and paper, steel production, flour milling, cement making, food and beverages, oilseed processing, brickmaking, lumber products and many others.

Bio-tech research at Innovation Place, and research at the Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan will probably yield incalculable economic dividends, not to mention health benefits.

We manufacture agricultural machinery such as improved seeding equipment, plus transportation and industrial equipment, wood, steel, chemicals, and plastic products.

We do robotic equipment too, producing components for some amazingly high-tech equipment and instruments used in agriculture, mining and remote-controlled aerial vehicles.

Saskatchewan industry has made aerospace components for the Canadian Space Agency’s space shuttle, the “Canadarm.” We produce components for circuit boards, wireless telecom systems, toxic gas monitoring systems, and instruments for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and balloon flight.  

The government says Saskatchewan is a “world leader in biotechnology and life sciences.” Research in agriculture, food science, pharmacy, medicine, botany and animal science at such scientific cauldrons as Innovation Place, USask’s Canadian Light Source synchrotron, and countless other labs at our universities will yield incalculable economic dividends, not to mention health benefits.

There was even a car manufacturing company in Regina before World War II, a General Motors plant. During the war it was repurposed as a munitions plant called Regina Industries Ltd., and did not revive as an auto plant in peacetime.

Manufactured products, along with the usual other economic sectors such as services, wholesale and retail sales, finance and so on, all contribute to our economy, which like everywhere else, fluctuates wildly.

In short, over time Saskatchewan’s resource and service-based industries have eclipsed agriculture as our economic drivers.

[; Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, 618-19; other internet sources]
[Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan: Agriculture article by Prof. Gary Storey; Statistics Canada and Saskatchewan government stats; personal recollections]

“It was so bad during the Dust Bowl that …”:

Tales of the thirties

After the 1929 stock market crash, the world plunged into economic depression. Saskatchewan was hit especially hard, as crops failed and jobs evaporated.

One family’s story became etched in history when photographed in Edmonton. Abram and Elizabeth Fehr and their barefoot children had fled to the Peace River district to escape the destitution in Saskatchewan, but frost and flooding forced their return.

Ken and Rose Bates of Glidden had only one child, whom they adored. In vain they tried get relief in Saskatoon and then Vancouver. In desperation, they tried to poison themselves in their car with CO2. Ironically the parents survived but the child did not. Sympathetic Glidden townsfolk hired a crack lawyer in Saskatoon who won them a not-guilty verdict. But their lives were ruined.

Moose Jaw mayor James Pascoe died of a heart attack in 1931, while trying to shovel his car out of a wind-blown dustbank on an outlying part of the city.  He had gone there to check on houses reported to be without water.  [Broadfoot, 97]

The drought was so bad in the Regina area by 1933 that relief officials had bales of straw sent for farmers to feed cattle. Farmers who couldn’t sell their herds watched them slowly die anyway due to the poor feed quality.

It was claimed the grasshoppers were so bad if that you laid a leather coat on the ground when you starteda task like stooking, nothing remained when you went to retrieve it except the buttons.

Oldtimers remember that a load of codfish was sent from the east coast by concerned fishermen. It was supposed to be boiled and eaten as finnan haddie, but often after days of soaking even the pigs wouldn’t eat it, a farmer claimed.

John Diefenbaker once quipped: “It was so dry in Saskatchewan during the Depression that the trees were chasing dogs.” [Colombo]

A Leipzig area farmer told of shipping a pig to market in Saskatoon, but when shipping costs were subtracted, due to depressed prices he found he ended up with only eight cents.

[Waiser and Diderick, Looking Back?; Broadfoot, Ten Lost Years p. 97; collective memory]


What Saskies did to survive

Women cut worn-out trousers into squares and sewed them into patchwork blankets, ugly but warm.

People stuffed newspapers into cracks around windows and doors to stop dust seeping in.

Farmers loaned horses to each other to get the crops in.

They grew as much of their own food as possible, raising vegetable gardens, chickens and a cow.

Water used for hand-washing was dumped in a barrel where dirt sunk to the bottom. They then used it to wash clothes, then threw it on their gardens.

They kept water barrels to collect rain – a good conservation practice still being done.

Farmers used buffalo chips or cow patties as fuel.

Householders made soup out of cooking water (some of us still do), or fed it to the hogs.

Sometimes generations all lived in one household to cut fuel costs. In cities, an entire families sometimes lived crammed into one rented room.

[Gray, The Winter Years; parental recollections & other sources]

Help for the destitute

Make-work projects in the thirties

Regina: Winnipeg subway underpass, Albert Street Bridge and reservoir, dredging Wascana Lake

Saskatoon: Broadway Bridge, weir on the river (PFRA), the 19th Street subway

Prince Albert: rock dam near the airport, retaining wall for the CNR Bridge, landscaping the Sanitorium site, waterworks improvements

Prince Albert National Park: Waskesiu campsite and roads, Lobstick golf course

Borden area: cement bridge

Hafford area: CNR project

[Eric Strikwerda, cited in Marchildon (ed), Drought and Depression, 237]


What governments did

Many government programs to deal with the emergency were carried out under the umbrella of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act of 1935.

A program of relief payments was implemented to keep families alive during the emergency.

The Saskatchewan Relief Commission sent food to stricken citizens, and food for their animals.

Experimental farms conducted ongoing research into dryland farming.

Some 50,000 dugouts were dug on farms to catch and store water.

Reforestation was undertaken; shelter belts were planted to prevent soil drifting in future.

Spreading organic materials on land helped reclaim farmland lost to agriculture from erosion.

Irrigation projects were undertaken.

Community pastures were set up to share available pastureland.

Farmers on relief were allowed to keep three large animals; the rest were sent north where more pasture land was available.

Not coping

Tax rant

From irate citizen to a mayor during the depression

In reply to your recent and more frequent requests to send you a cheque, I wish to inform you that the present shattered conditions of my bank account make it impossible for me to take your requests seriously.

My present financial condition is due to the effect of Dominion Laws, Provincial Laws, Municipal Laws, County Laws, Corporation Laws, Traffic Laws, Liquor Laws, Brother-in laws, By-laws, Sisters-in-law, Mother-in-law, and Outlaws, all which have been foisted upon an unsuspecting public.

Through these laws I am compelled to pay a Business Tax, Sales Tax, Amusement Tax, Gasoline Tax, School Tax, Water Tax, Excess Tax, Auto Tax, Hydro Tax and Syntax. ….

For my own safety I am required to carry Life Insurance, Liability Insurance, Burglary Insurance, Property Damage Insurance, Rent Insurance, Compensation Insurance, Accident Insurance, Collision Insurance, Rain Insurance, Hail Insurance, and Business Insurance.

The Government has now so governed my business that it is no easy matter for me to find out who owns it.  I am inspected, expected, introspected, suspected, disrespected, examined, re-examined, informed, required, summoned, fined, commanded and compelled, until all I know is that I am supposed to provide an inexhaustible supply of money for every known need, desire or hope of the human race, and simply because I refuse to donate to each and all and to beg, borrow or steal money to give away.  I’ve been discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, held up, held down, and robbed until I am nearly ruined.

I can tell you honestly, that failing a miracle, you will not be paid just now and the only reason I am holding on to life is simply to see just what is coming next.


[City of Saskatoon Archives]

The iceman cometh

Obsolete jobs and businesses you don’t see much any more

Buffalo bone collectors who gathered enormous piles of bones to ship to factories in the east to make into fertilizer. That’s how Regina got its original name, Wascana.

Stooking and threshing crews that came west with the harvest excursions every fall.

Daguerrotypists and linotype operators in newspaper composing rooms.

The Arctic Ice Company in Saskatoon harvesting blocks of ice from the river for home ice boxes and refrigeration businesses. Photo from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library.

Before electric refrigerators, we had ice-boxes. Ice-cutting companies like Arctic Ice Company in Saskatoon cut ice blocks out of the river for freezer lockers. And icemen brought ice to your door, for use in iceboxes.

Milkmen with horses and vans, who delivered milk door-to-door, even on the coldest days. Houses had two-way cupboards for milk bottles at the back door.

Even bread was delivered to households, in horse-drawn vans.

Blacksmiths were indispensable in every community, and some large farms, in the horse-and-buggy days.

Liverymen who tended horses in livery stables.

Travelling door-to-door salesmen like the Fuller Brush man or the Watkin’s man. In the 1920s they roamed around in buggies. Later they used small trucks loaded with products.

Telephone operators at switchboard
Telephone operators at switchboard, September 1959, including Myrna Moen and Marjorie Falk. Photo B 6597 by Leonard Hillyard. Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library

Switchboard operators on community telephone lines, who got to eavesdrop on the latest scuttlebutt. It was called “rubbernecking.”

Pin-setters in bowling alleys.

[From community histories, and]

That’s Entertainment!

That’s Entertainment!

Actors from Saskatchewan, both in the movies and on the stage. We also list some of the many obscure movies made here. Loss of government tax incentives has hampered the home-grown film industry in our province.

Well-known actors on the Big Screen

You’ll recognize many of these, as they performed in film, nationally or internationally. Most got their start on the stage here in Saskatchewan, many through university drama programs.

Kim Coates studied drama at the U of S, appeared in Saskatoon plays, at Stratford Shakespeare Festival, on Broadway, and several Hollywood films. His TV credits include Miami Vice, Prison Break, Smallville and Sons of Anarchy. He received at least three American acting awards, and a Canadian Dora Mavor Moore award.

Shirley Douglas of Weyburn appeared in movies such as Lolita and Shadow Dancing, the TV shows Street Legal, Wind at My Back, and DeGrasse: The Next Generation, and plays such as the Glass Menagerie at the National Theatre. She is Tommy Douglas’s daughter.

Tom Jackson (OC) from One Arrow Reserve appeared in several films, and such TV series as Star Trek: The Next Generation, North of 60. He received a Governor General’s award, two Queen’s Jubilee and two centennial medals. He was also chancellor at Trent University 2009-2013.

Kari Machett of Spalding acted in plays at Stratford, in the films Apartment Hunting, Angel Eyes and Maudie, and in the TV series The Rez, Earth: Final Conflict, Heartland, Power Play and Saving Hope.  

Tatiana Maslany, born in Regina,appeared in the TV series Heartland, Being Erica and Orphan Black. Her awards include ACTRA, Canadian Screen and Golden Globe. She also appeared in films, such as Defenders of the Dead, Violet and Daisy, and The Vow.

Leslie Nielsen (Order of Canada) of Regina acted in serious films such as Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure, and zany ones like Airplane, and the Naked Gun. On TV, he was in Littlest Hobo, Bonanza and Police Squad. His laurels include an ACTRA, and Emmy and Oscar nominations. Nielsen’s name graces Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and Canada’s too.

Eric Peterson (Member of the Order of Canada) born in Indian Head, is another celebrated actor and comedian trained at the U of S who starred in the TV series Street Legal, Corner Gas, This is Wonderland, and a new film Claws of the Red Dragon, playing the Canadian ambassador to China. His awards include five Gemini, a Dora, and an ACTRA.

CFQC_TV studio scene
Peter Scott, later known as Scott Peters, in the CFQC-TV studio in Saskatoon. Photo QC-1244-1 by CFQC staff ca. 1960, from Local History room, Saskatoon Public Library .

Peter Scott aka Scott Peters aka Peter Sikorski, was a well-known TV celebrity in Saskatoon before he moved to Hollywood and became Scott Peters. His flicks included They Saved Hitler’s Brain.

Gordon Tootoosis (CM) appeared in such TV shows as North of 60, Big Bear and a British hit comedy series, andin at least three Hollywood movies including Alien Thunder. Tootoosis was chief of Poundmaker Reserve, and was outspoken on native issues. In 1999, he helped found the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company, later renamed in his honour.

Hollywood actor John Vernon, born in Zehner as Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz, studied in Regina, Banff and London, England. He is best known here for the TV series Wojeck. He performed at Stratford, Toronto and New York, and in such movies as Dirty Harry, Topaz and Animal House, and TV shows Gunsmoke, and Mission Impossible.

Murray Westgate’s voice was well-known in commercials during Hockey Night in Canada. He began with radio dramas in Regina, and appeared in films like Blue City Slammer, Two Solitudes, and the TV series RCMP, Seaway and Seeing Things. He won an ACTRA award for the TV movie Tyler, and a Genie.

Janet Wright, “gravelly-voiced” star of Corner Gas, carried on valiantly after losing both parents and her sister in a fire, and a daughter in a vicious shooting incident. She starred in many Saskatoon plays before moving to Toronto, and won a host of acting and comedy laurels, including Genies, Geminis, and Canadian Comedy awards. Her list of films goes on for pages.

[Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, Canadian Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, IDBm,]

Movie dramas

With a Saskatchewan connection or filmed here

Some American movies purporting to take place in Saskatchewan have mountains in them (tsk, tsk, Hollywood). Because of the vagaries of film distribution in Canada, some were only seen on television, except those made by Hollywood or British film companies. Pity.

Big Bear portrait
Outspoken Cree chief Big Bear, subject of a disturbing movie about the Northwest Resistance. Photo LH 2775, ca. 1880, from Local History Room,
Saskatoon Public Library

Alien Thunder (1974), about Cree fugitive Almighty Voice, starring Gordon Tootoosis and chief Dan George. During a famine, A.V. steals a government cow. Suspecting him of murder, a Mountie (Donald Sutherland) pursues him relentlessly. Written by George Malko.

Big Bear (1998), a CBC movie and television mini-series about the unbending, far-seeing Cree chief who refused to sign Treaty Six, until his band was starved into submission. Based on Rudy Wiebe’s novel, The Temptations of Big Bear, it was shot partly at Pasqua First Nation near Fort Qu’Appelle.

Big Muddy (2014), written and directed by Jefferson Moneo, shot in Saskatoon and in the Assiniboia region. Moneo was born in Saskatoon.

The Canadians (1962, 20th Century Fox), filmed in the Maple Creek region, was loosely based on the coming of the Sioux in the 1870s. Saskatoon’s Scott Peters (aka Peter Scott) was in its cast, and extras were brought from nearby reserves.

Conquest (1998, Heartland Motion Pictures) with Saskie actors Susan Williamson, Chrisse Bornstein, Jean Freeman. 

Corner Gas, the Movie (2014), based on the hit TV sitcom Corner Gas set in the fictional Dog River and filmed in Rouleau. Its stars included Janet Wright, Brent Butt and Eric Peterson. It was also made into an animated television series.  

Drylanders (1963) a drama directed by Don Haldane, screenplay by Charles Cohen. A National Film Board production, it tells a classic story of homesteaders in the early days of settlement. It starred Frances Hyland, and James Douglas. 

Grey Owl (1999), a drama about Englishman Archibald Belaney, alias Grey Owl, who pretended to be a native trapper but wasn’t. Directed by Richard Attenborough, it stars Pierce Brosnan and Annie Galipeau, with cameo appearances by Graham Greene and others. It was partly shot in Saskatchewan’s north, where Grey Owl lived with his partner Anahareo. Their cabin is still a popular tourist attraction near Waskesiu.

The Northwest Mounted Police (1940), a Cecil B. DeMille drama, stars Gary Cooper as a Texas cowboy involved in the Northwest Resistance (even though it’s set in the mountains — which are rather scarce in Saskatchewan). Author Pierre Berton had a field day with movies like this in his book Hollywood’s Canada.

Paperback Hero (1973) shot in Delisle. Saskatoon actress Jacqui Presley appeared in it, along with Hollywood actors Keir Dullea and Elizabeth Ashley. It’s about a small-town hockey player who imagines himself to be an Old West gunslinger. Not very Canadian, and not at all like the 1999 Australian film of the same name starring Hugh Jackman.

Pierre of the Plains (1942) an American western film set in Saskatchewan (though it also features mountains!), directed by George B. Seitz with stars John Carroll and Ruth Hussey.

Saskatchewan (1954): a Hollywood drama about the Saskatchewan River, starring superstars Allan Ladd and Shelley Winters. It’s a remake of O’Rourke of the Royal Mounted, and has nothing to do with our province except the title.

Who Has Seen the Wind (1977), based on a classic book by W.O. Mitchell, starred Gordon Pinsent and Jose Ferrer. Shot in Arcola, it was directed by Allan King. In its day, it was a film not to be missed.

Why Shoot the Teacher (1977) based on a popular book by Saskatchewan author Max Braithwaite. It’s about a young man from the city arriving from the east to teach in a one-room school, a tiny building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The novel is another prairie classic, as many Saskatchewan residents still alive attended such one-room schools where up to eight grades were taught in one room. Gifted students could eavesdrop on the curricula of upper grades and then sail through them when they attained that grade. Those who don’t remember those schools can see recreated classrooms in many prairie museums, or authentic ones preserved from decades past. The Little Stone Schoolhouse on the U of S campus is an authentic example, although it was not isolated in the countryside. (See also our section on education, “The Halls of Academe).”

And finally, although A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court had little to do with us, it was the comic incantation “Saskatoon Saskatchewan” at the precise moment of an eclipse that saved the protagonists’ bacon.

Obscure Saskatchewan movies

These are movies made in, or about Saskatchewan that you might not have seen, or don’t remember.

Chained (2002), a slasher movie.

Crisis, aka Deadend, (2002) a mob story shot in Saskatoon, debuted at

Decoy (1995) filmed in Indian Head: about an heiress.

A Dog Named Christmas (2009) filmed in Regina: boy rescues dog from a shelter.

Dolan’s Cadillac (2009) a horror/crime film based on a Stephen King novel.

Gungapore (2005), a made-for-TV movie by La Ronge filmmaker Ray Ramayya.

Just Friends (2005), shot in Regina: a teenage romance.

The Lost Daughter, (1997) shot at Last Mountain Lake, thriller starring Richard Chamberlain, about a woman moving to a small town.

The Messengers (2007), a supernatural horror show shot in Regina.

The Rink (1997) by Saskatoon playwright Rod McIntyre, shot in Saskatoon.

Rescued from Death in Siberia (2014) documentary, about Poles who were moved into Siberian camps in 1939.

Skipped Parts (2000) filmed in Indian Head, Lebret, Regina and Vibank about a mother and son banished to a small town in the 1960s. It starred Drew Barrymore.

[Newspaper clippings; internet]

Strutting the boards

In Canada and beyond

Actors on stage and screen tend to migrate back and forth from theatre roles to movies and television. Here are a few of many who have performed here and/or beyond our borders.

Linda Griffiths, actress, producer and playwright performed on Saskatoon stages (including Paper Wheat) before moving to Toronto. She helped found 25th Street Theatre, and was a director of Theatre Passe Muraille. Her play Maggie and Pierre even showed off-Broadway. She appeared in several TV series and movies, and won a Gemini and four Dora Mavor Moore awards (Doras).

Arthur Hill was born in Melfort and moved to England at twenty-six to become a prominent stage presence there, and later on Broadway in New York.  He won a Tony in 1963 and a New York Drama Critics award for his performance as George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Hill also landed major roles in many bigtime movies and starred in his own TV series.

Frances Hyland in a university play.
Frances Hyland in a Greystone Theatre play at the U of S, while she was a student. Photo A 3657 from University of Saskatchewan Archives.

Frances Hyland, born in Shaunavon, used to be one of our best-known actresses. She studied drama at the U of S drama department, and in England. Her acting credits are legion. She played with such stars as John Gielgud and Christopher Plummer, and appeared on Broadway and in London, the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, and the National Arts Centre.

In 2019, Regina’s Tatiana Maslany (mentioned above) was appearing on Broadway in Network, not to mention many roles in other media.

Two actors in play Picnic. At right is Eric Peterson.
Actor Eric Peterson performing in “Picnic” at the Greystone Theatre. He was a drama student, aged about eighteen. Photo from University of Saskatchewan
Archives & Special Collections.

Eric Peterson of Indian Head studied drama at the U of S and began his stage career at Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver and later Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. One of his best-known stage roles portrayed a famous Canadian flying ace in Billy Bishop Goes to War, but Peterson is better known for his television roles, such as Corner Gas and Street Legal.

Tom Rooney of Prince Albert has a bachelor’s degree of music in performance from USask.  He has acted at many Canadian theatres including ten seasons at Stratford, and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, and in various film and TV shows. He won a Dora award in 2013.

Henry Woolf & wife Susan Williamson are seasoned British actors long resident in Saskatoon, where he headed the U of S drama department and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. They hopped across the pond now and then to appear on London stages. A lifelong friend of Harold Pinter, he has appeared in many films, including The Lion in Winter, Rocky Horror Picture show and Gorky Park, and she has appeared in plays and films including Conquest and Betrayed.

John Wright, one of the famous Wright family thespians, studied drama at the U of S where he shocked audiences as a nude in Equus. Now based in Alberta, he starred in stage roles across Canada, too many to list here, but Shakespeare was a specialty. His face also appears regularly on TV and movie screens.

Portrait of Susan Wright
Susan Wright, Saskatoon actress. one of the famous Wright family of thespians. Photo from City of Saskatoon Archives, StarPhoenix collection.

Susan Wright co-founded Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon with her sister Janet, and Brian Richmond. A notable early role was in Cruel Tears. Later she appeared on stages across Canada, including seven seasons at Stratford. She also appeared on television and film, winning two Dora awards for best actress. Tragically, she died in a fire in Stratford in 1991.

Radio and television shows, and their creators

Theatre, television and radio shows also migrate back and forth among media … some on to movie screens. Here we mention a few dramatic shows with Saskatchewan connections

Corner Gas, a popular TV sitcom, was created by Brent Butt, who was born in Tisdale and started as a stand-up comic. It has since morphed into a feature film, and an animated TV sitcom with the same bucolic setting and characters that are the spitting image of the living ones. He has won multiple awards for comedy, including the Gemini.

InSecurity, a comedy TV series involving inept spy-catchers, takes place at a fictional Canadian National Intelligence and Security Agency in Ottawa but was produced and chiefly filmed in Regina. It ran from January 2011 for two seasons but CBC cancelled it in April 2012 due to budgetary cuts,

The Jake and the Kid series by W.O. Mitchell on CBC Radio delighted listeners across Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. These iconic stories about a boy and a hired hand on a farm near the fictional prairie town of Crocus also appeared in Maclean’s Magazine before publication as a book by the same title.

Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story (2006). A CBC-TV mini-series produced by Keven DeWalt. Well-known Saskie actors appeared in it, including Sharon Bakker, Tatiana Maslany, Walter Mills, Robert Benz, and others. It won a cornucopia of awards for Mind’s-Eye Pictures including an ACTRA and a Gemini.

The ground-breaking television series Little Mosque on the Prairies, though not scripted by a Saskie, was filmed here and in Ontario. In a time of religious distrust, it depicted ordinary Muslims and their amicable capers with Christians. 

Two of Maggie Siggins’s books were made into television mini-series. A Canadian Tragedy, Love and Hate, is the story of Colin Thatcher and his role in the murder of his wife JoAnn. Revenge of the Land chronicles ambition and skulduggery associated with sections of land near Moose Jaw.

Greg Nelson, a U of S alumnus, has penned scripts for television, radio and theatre, including episodes of Orphan Black, Frontier, Afghanada, Rookie Blue and Played (both police dramas), Saving Hope and Remedy {medical dramas) and others. He won the Canadian Screenwriting Award in 2007 and 2008, international radio awards in 2008, and a U of S alumni award in 2018.

[Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan; Brenna, Our Kind of Work; and other online sources]
Farmers and Ranchers Outstanding in Their Fields

Farmers and Ranchers Outstanding in Their Fields

The unstoppabie character of our homesteaders, farmers and ranchers helped them survive adversity and adapt to their new surroundings.

Take up the plow, young man!

After the buffalo were mostly gone, the feds urged First Nations to take up farming. (Unfortunately the tools were often primitive and inadequate.) These government incentives were designed to enable and motivate First Nations included in Treaty Six (1876) to take up farming:

To each Indian family starting to farm:

Four hoes and two spades; one scythe and one whetstone; two hay forks and two reaping hooks (whatever they were)

To every three Indian families starting to farm:

One plough and one harrow;

To each Indian band starting to farm:

Two axes, one cross saw, one handsaw, one pitsaw and the files needed to sharpen them.

One grindstone, one auger and one chest of ordinary carpenter tools.

Four oxen, one bull and six cows; one boar and two sows.

Two carts with iron bushings and tires. 

Enough wheat, barley, potatoes and oats to plant land already broken.

One hand mill — when sufficient grain had been raised.

To all Indian bands included in Treaty Six beginning to cultivate: a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars distributed annually — at the discretion of the chief Indian agent— among bands actually cultivating, to assist and encourage them to farm.

[Rollings-Magnusson, The Homesteaders, Ch. 3; other sources]


How many settlers obtained “free” land

The Dominion Lands Act — amended several times between 1872 and 1918 — generally required that those taking up a homestead:

A replica of the Diefembaker family homestead buildings ner Borden. They are now located at the
Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village south of Moose Jaw.
Photo by Patricia Pavey

Be male and at least eighteen years old (except widows with dependent children).

Make official entry on a 160-acre “quarter” section designated for homesteads.

Pay the ten-dollar registration fee.

Build a permanent dwelling on the selected “homestead” quarter.

Occupy that homestead quarter for at least six months in each of three successive years.

Break and crop a set portion (usually thirty to forty acres) of the homestead quarter during that interval.

Apply for patent (title) to the homestead quarter upon fulfilling the above requirements.

They could also buy an adjoining “pre-empted” quarter section for a set price.


A place of their own

Single women farmers battling the elements  

In homesteading days single women (except heads of households with children) couldn’t get free homesteads as men did, so they often bought ready-made farms. Their worst enemies were mortgages – unless they were wealthy. Many did backbreaking work themselves: felling trees, stooking, and digging up stones, plus the usual milking of cows, harnessing horses, gardening, preserving and other endless tasks.

Some, like remittance men, had wealthy parents back in Britain. If they had the money, women could buy ready-made farms from the CPR. For example, Maggie Dunn bought CPR land in the Ellisboro area of Assiniboia in 1908.

They could buy “scrip” allotted to veterans of the South African (Boer) war, although they still had to meet homestead regulations. Sixty-year-old Sarah Birtle bought South African scrip (SAS) and acquired title to a homestead near Colonsay, and one in Alberta.

Metis women could get either 240 acres of land or paper scrip to compensate for confiscated land, and issues leading to the 1885 conflict. Often scammers convinced them paper scrip was worthless, and the Metis sold it to land speculators “for a song.”

Some women financed farms with personal income earned as businesswomen or professionals. They could buy farms from male homesteaders who had thrown in the towel, as journalist Georgina Binnie-Clark did. A proponent of the Homesteads for Women Movement, she was keen to prove single women could farm ably and profitably.

Many bartered cooking or laundering services for help from neighbours in clearing land, seeding and harvesting. Widow Theresia Lutz came from Minnesota to Muenster in 1902 with two teen daughters, an eleven-year-old son, and a married daughter and family. The latter soon left, but Theresia stayed and toughed it out. She left in 1910 when her eyesight failed.

Some had male neighbours nearby who lent a hand. In 1903, Isabella Wilson immigrated to Sonningdale with two brothers who acquired their own homesteads. Being single, she had to buy her land, and neighbours built her little home.

Others were well-heeled entrepreneurs who hired all the necessary labour.  Ruth Hillman of Keeler ran her farm like any other business, with six workmen. Within five years she had a two thousand–acre farm. In the first world war her land was producing forty thousand bushels per year.

[Saskatchewan Archives Board homestead records: Binnie-Clark: Carter, Imperial Plots. Lutz: Lutz, A Mother Braving the Wilderness. Wilson: Sonningdale Memories, 406-8. Hillman: Carter, 221-2, 343]

Coping with nature

How early settlers overcame natural scourges and some pretty lame tools

Sowing seeds by hand.

Farmer illustration
Illustration by Ruth Millar

Planting crops really early. Before the advent of Marquis wheat with its shorter growing season, many crops were zapped by August frosts. One farmer tried it in February, but did not record how he sowed the crop in the snow.

Improvising implements such as a wooden harrow made with planks and railway spikes.

Harvesting with sickles and scythes, then collecting the sheaves and propping them up in stooks to keep the grain dry.

Ploughing fireguards made of earth to stop raging prairie fires.

Killing grasshoppers with poisoned bait.

Spraying coal oil mixed with soapy water around the edges of gardens and crops, to squelch cutworms.

Building smudges with green branches to protect livestock from mosquitoes.

Shooting hawks that swooped down and carried off chickens.

Waging war on gophers by poisoning, trapping, shooting and drowning.

Planting scarecrows in fields to terrorize marauding coyotes, and switching to energetic poultry that could fly to escape predators.

Cajoling or convincing or forcing women and children to do their bit helping out in the fields.

Co-operating with neighbours in “bees” on heavy jobs.

[Rollings-Magnusson, Ch. 3; other sources; collective memory]


Salt of the earth

A few of the notable Saskie farms and farmers, past and present, who influenced prairie farming

The Bell Farm, managed by Major R.W. Bell, was founded near Indian Head by the Qu’Appelle Valley Farming Co. in 1882. It failed to make a profit despite large expenditures on buildings, machinery and livestock on the fifty-thousand-plus acre holding. After a series of poor harvests and marketing difficulties, the farm was dissolved in 1889. The round stone barn on the main farmstead is now a protected heritage building

Lanark Place, near Abernethy, was the homestead of William R. Motherwell, am outspoken advocate of better methods of dryland-farming in the early 1900s. He became provincial minister of agriculture, then federal. His original farmstead, with its two-storey stone house is now a heritage site

Seager Wheeler house.
Seager Wheeler farm, a national heritage site near Rosthern. Photo by Judy Buckle, August 2019.

Seager Wheeler was a science-minded homesteader who began selecting and breeding strains fruits and strains of wheat suited to the prairies in 1904. He was proclaimed World Wheat Champion at a New York exhibition in 1911 and several years thereafter for the grain he had grown at Maple Grove Farm, Rosthern. Wheeler also pioneered dryland techniques such as summer fallowing and planting shelter belts. His farm, restored to the way it was when he retired in 1919, is a designated national heritage site.

Robert Caswell’s Royal Stock Farm at Saskatoon, with its championship Clydesdale horses, Shorthorn cattle and cereal grains was acclaimed as one of the largest and most advanced mixed farming enterprises when he retired in 1923. Most of its land and farmstead are now part of the city.

The Matador Farming Pool near Kyle was the last of the co-op farms established by the Tommy Douglas CCF government after World War II. It was founded in 1946 by seventeen veterans who collectively worked on ten thousand acres, shared land and machinery, and lived communally. Despite restructuring in succeeding decades, it declined from a high point in the 1950s and was dissolved in 2011.

Copeland Seeds Ltd. at Elrose is owned and operated by William J. (Bill) Copeland and his son Bob. Bill was one of the first farmers to practice minimal cultivation and grow pulse crops in the Rosetown-Elrose district. The annual Copeland Prize in crop science at the U of S is named for him, as is CDC Copeland malting barley. 

Quark Farms near Mossbank is owned and operated by Dan Quark, a fourth-generation dryland farmer. He and his family grow a variety of grains, pulses and oilseeds using continuous cropping and minimal cultivation techniques on their sixteen-thousand–acre holding.

Aberhardt Farms near Langenburg is owned and operated by Terry Aberhardt– a third-generation dryland farmer — and his father Harvey. They practice crop rotation, continuous cropping and minimal cultivation, producing cereal grains, pulses and oilseeds on their fifteen thousand acres.

Prince Valley Farms is a midsized dryland farm in the North Battleford district. Experienced owner/operator Martin Prince successfully competes with larger farms using automation, data sensors and other high-tech means to produce and market a variety of grains efficiently. 

The Double Bar D farm at Grenfell is a mixed farm owned and operated by Richard Dimler and family. Starting in 1968 with 640 acres and seven heifers, the Dimlers expanded their farm to thirty thousand acres and one thousand purebred cattle.

[Bell Farm. Archer, Saskatchewan: A History, 72-3,; Lanark Place: .; Maple Grove: Wikipedia; Royal Stock Farm: R.W. Caswell Papers;; Copeland Seeds:;; aberhardtfarms, com; Prince Valley:;]

The dust bowl

Taming blowing soil

Farms in the arid Palliser Triangle of the south were most afflicted by blowing dust in the dirty thirties. Under the guidance of PFRA and their agricultural experts, farmers battled the dust and drought in these ways:

Crews were sent to farms to help dig deep, long dugouts to capture and hold spring runoff water for irrigation, domestic use, and watering livestock.

Communities banded together for “listing bees”, helping farmers dig deep furrows perpendicular to the wind. It helped prevent soil from drifting.

Farm horses were often weak and half-starved, and farm equipment was dilapidated and outdated, so equipment sometimes was supplied by the government.

Dams were built in creeks and streams to retain water for thirsty stock.

Farmers were encouraged to try strip farming, which the Metis had already done in the Batoche area, sort of. It was a system that gave more settlers access to waterways.

“Agricultural improvement stations” were established near experimental farm substations around the province. Led by successful farmers, they battled to prevent further desertification in the Palliser Triangle. 

Farmers used “trash-cover cultivation” (spreading layers of plant material on the dry soil).

They planted “cover crops” when they could. One variety of grass, crested wheatgrass, seemed to take root in the arid conditions. This grass was planted as a soil stabilizer, and on community pastures as livestock forage.

Tree-planting associations were formed to plant shelter-belts to prevent the soil from blowing away.

[Gray, Men Against the Desert, chapter 6, and other sources]

New cultivation techniques and crop varieties

The short growing season here made necessary innovations in techniques and equipment that better suited the prairie climate, boosted yields and reduced catastrophes caused by drought and early frosts.

Angus Mackay, first director of the Dominion Experimental Farm at Indian Head, promoted the practice of summer-fallowing after the Metis resistance in !885. He had observed that cultivated land that settlers, working as freighters for government troops, left unplanted that year produced above average crops in 1886. 

Dr. Charles E. Saunders, cereals scientist with the Experimental Farm Service in Ottawa in 1907, had Marquis wheat—an early maturing variety he had developed—grown for seed at the Indian Head Experimental Farm. By 1920, Marquis accounted for more than 90 percent of wheat grown on the prairies. The son of Dr. William Saunders, director of Experimental Farms, Charles won a prize of $1,000 in gold from the CPR for the “best wheat variety in Canada.”

Belgian immigrants Gaston and Georges Pootmans set up a model farm north of Regina. He experimented with wheat seeds, taught farmers how to use trees effectively, and raised Belgian horses. Gaston became acting Belgian Vice-Consul in 1918.

Dr. W. P. Thompson, a geneticist in the biology department at the U of S in the 1920s, developed some of the first strains of rust resistant wheat. He later served (1946 to 1959) as president of the university.

Dr. Don Rennie, a U of S soil scientist from 1965 to the 1980s, showed that reduced tillage, new seeding techniques, the use of fertilizers, and herbal weed control were better for prairie soils than summer-fallowing.

Dr. Keith Downey, a U of S plant breeder known as the “father of canola”, produced an edible canola in the 1960s — a valuable crop that now gilds prairie fields and hillsides with almost iridescent yellows.

Dr. Al Slinkard, the “lentils prophet”, with the U of S Crop Development Centre (CDC) developed varieties of lentils and other high protein pulse crops in the 1980s as suitable alternatives to cereal grains on the prairies.

Dr. Bryan Harvey and a team of crop scientists at the U of S developed Harrington malting barley in the 1980s, comprising over half of the malting barley grown in western Canada until 2002.

[Harvey: barley varieties. Pootmans: Drake, Regina: The Queen City, 178. Rennie: Saunders, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. McKay: Thompson, Canadian Encyclopedia. Other sources: Green & White spring 2015; spring 2014; Arts & Science Magazine; Century of Innovations website, U of S]

Holy cow!

New technological wizardry – even drones and robots

Steam-powered tractor at Western Development Museum
Steam-powered tractor at Western Development Museum in Saskatoon

We’ve come a long way since sickles and scythes were used in homesteading days. Titanic steam-driven tractors made their appearance in 1917, followed by gas-guzzling ones, and finally cheaper diesel-powered combines in 1931. Now they are computerized and air-conditioned.

In 1926 there were only only 148 combines in Saskatchewan. These mighty crop-gobbling machines were first introduced to Canadian farming by the Massey-Harris Company. Ever since, they have crawled across prairie fields like fearsome dragons, except now they are computerized too.

Where once human labour produced stooks of hay and straw, now modern balers roll it all up neatly in large cylindrical bales, often left to dry in the autumn sun before they are scooped up for use on the farm.

Nowadays, drones fly over crops and identify stricken areas in fields that need more water or pesticides.

In the dairy industry, automated milking machines lessen the daily toil of dairy workers astronomically. Cows can activate them themselves, we’re told.

“Animal activity trackers” notify farmers when a cow is feeling frisky, so to speak, so they know when is the best time for breeding.

A smart device called the Moocall, from its vantage point attached to a pregnant cow’s tail – when her time comes – measures contractions of her womb and texts a message to the farmer informing him of the imminent blessed event.

Robotic manure scrapers keep the aisles clean behind animal stalls.

There are even artificial teats so calves can nurse from a faux mommy in the fields. Whether they are used in Saskatchewan is another question.

[Combines: Archer, 103; internet sources. Robots and drones: Emma van Steekelenburg, ” “From Drones to Robots …”, The Sheaf, 21 March 2019. Udders:]


Small-scale agriculture

While most agro operations here are vast grain farms and ranches directed at national and international markets, a potpourri of small-scale farms in the province sells directly to local markets:

Worm farms, such as those in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw that grow “Red Wigglers” for vermi-composting bins.

Mushroom farms, especially the one near Regina that sells oyster mushrooms grown in beds of wheat and barley straw directly to local restaurants and at farmers’ markets.

Urban beekeeping, including hives atop buildings on Broadway Avenue and on the university campus in Saskatoon, supplying honey to local eateries.

Backyard chicken farms, such as those of Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Wishart residents who kept three or four chickens in their yards as pets – until forced to stop by local councils.

Community gardens on vacant lots and public property in the cities, where residents (usually apartment and condo dwellers) grow vegetables for their own use or food banks.

Commercial orchards where mostly apples and several berries grow in more than a dozen orchards throughout the province, and are sold on a U-pick basis, and in bulk on site or at farmers’ markets.

Fish farms, like those at Big River and Lake Diefenbaker that raise trout, steelheads and other fish to sell as hatchlings for “seedling” ponds, dugouts and lakes, as well as fresh adult fish to restaurants and individual consumers.

Rooftop vegetable gardens, which in Saskatoon include one in a private garage and two buildings on campus, are grown for ecological benefits in an urban setting, in addition to the food they produce. They prove that unusual spaces can be used by apartment and condo dwellers.

Hydroponic farms, including those at Regina and Saskatoon (university campus) that grow herbs and vegetables by hanging seedlings in tanks containing whirlpools of nutrient soups.

Commercial greenhouses, mostly near cities where vegetables, fruit and flowers are nurtured in climate-controlled enclosures and sold as fresh produce on site or in stores or nurseries.

Vacation farms such as some as some twenty rural B&Bs and farm animal petting zoos, where city folk wishing to sample farm life boost the economy with their cash.

Marijuana grow-ops, now legal.

Home on the Range

Some fabled early ranches

Many early ranchers based in the U.S. drove cattle across the border to feast on our virgin grasslands. But the killer winter of 1906-7 wiped out vast herds, forcing many American cattlemen to vamoose. Weather didn’t stop our hardy Canadian ranchers though — hundreds of ranches still thrive here.

Exotic-looking Michel Oxarart, “the Basque,” who had worked at the Kohr ranch  in Montana, was said to be the first to homestead in the Maple Creek area in 1883. His ten thousand-acre ranch, “The Pyrenees,” became an epicentre for horse-breeding in the province. A connoisseur of thoroughbred horses, he was also an habituέ of the racing circuit.

After the NWMP post at Fort Walsh was closed in 1883, the force set up its Remount Ranch there, to raise their famous strutting black horses – like those later used in the Musical Ride. It is now a national historic site.

Rancher Jim Smart was one of the first ranchers to set up at Saskatchewan Landing north of the fledgling town of Swift Current; he was renowned for his struggles against invading farmers and their fences. He spotted an ad placed by Sir John Lister-Kaye in a British newspaper in 1885, calling for someone to bring men to Canada. He got the job and helped start the famous 76 ranch.  After that, he got his own ranch near Saskatchewan Landing, married, and their home ranch became an oasis, both socially and geographically, as it was close to the South Saskatchewan River’s fast-flowing water.

The first “76” ranch empire in Canada was founded by wealthy Englishman Sir John Lister Kaye, who organized the Canadian Agricultural, Coal and Colonization Company. In 1888 the company bought ten ten-thousand-acre spreads along the CPR line from the feds, and the Canadian property of the Powder River Cattle Company of Wyoming, which owned the 76 brand. Later D.H. Andrew took over, retaining only the Swift Current, Gull Lake, Crane Lake, and Stair ranches.

In 1910 Gordon, Ironside and Fares assembled parts of three large ranches along the Frenchman / Whitemud River, and called the new operation the 50 Mile Ranch.

A leggy giant at six foot six, John Roscoe (“Legs”) Lair was a Scot hailing from Texas, who stayed on site managing the renowned Matador Ranch, owned by Texans. When they left in 1922, he bought his own ranch. He inspired a folklore of vivid tales about his American version of “riding to hounds”, chasing coyotes on horseback with his pack of dogs and like-minded friends who revelled in the chase.

Another rancher who relied on his clever dogs, W.H. (Bill) Martin, had a fifty-five-section sheep ranch near Maple Creek where his whistle-trained collies herded his sheep. The dogs displayed their skills at agricultural exhibitions in Madison Square Gardens in New York and the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, where they wowed appreciative crowds.  

The famous Matador Ranch started in Texas but, like many other ranching operations, moved north looking for fresh grass for their cattle to munch on and bought a hundred thousand acres north of Swift Current in 1903.

In 1904 Conrad Price of Fort Benton, Montana, set up the Conrad Price Cattle Company ranch on former “76” land near Maple Creek. They imported about two thousand Mexican heifers, and ten thousand longhorn steers from Nevada – but most perished in the winter of 1906-07. The ranch was shut down in 1909.

The Alexander Small family arrived in ranch country by railway in 1882, and first lived in a box car. Later their sons Billy and Johnny stayed in a tent inside an unfinished log cabin. The Small family ranch was later run by Reginald Small, a grandson who raised sheep in the 1930s but reverted to cattle later. 

Early rancher W.T. “Horseshoe” Smith set up his enormous ranch near Leader to escape horse rustlers who had plagued his Montana ranch. At one time he had twenty-two thousand head of cattle, and ten thousand sheep. His well-known Smith Barn, built in 1914 and demolished in 1921, was one of the biggest barns in North America.

The Turkey Track Ranch at Wood Mountain once ran twenty-five thousand cattle, but half perished in the winter of 1906-7. Owner Tony Day, despairing over the losses and the influx of farmers, sold it in 1909 to Gordon, Ironside and Fares, a huge company with vast tentacles across the prairies.

The WP Ranch was launched by the Pollock brothers – William, George, Sol, and Robert – who arrived at Maple Creek from Nevada in 1883 with a herd of horses. One of their ranch hands, William Small, took over the WP around 1900, expanded it and focused on breeding horses.

[Oxarart: Our Pioneers; Maple Creek Museum panel, Donny White, The Advance 30 Aug 2015. The 76: Donny White, email December 2018;, Spencer, Lands, Brands & Hands of the 76 Ranch. Gordon, Ironside & Fares: Spencer, 19. Lair: M.W. Campbell, The Saskatchewan, 267-8. Martin: Campbell, 268-9. Price: Our Pioneers (the Maple Creek community history) viii. Small family: White, “Our People….”, Gull Lake Advance 3 September 2014; Smart: M.W. Campbell, 266. Matador: Graber, The Last Roundup; Turkey Track: Poitier: Wood Mountain Uplands, 98; WP Ranch: White, “Our People….”, Gull Lake Advance 3 September 2014 and other articles ]


Celebrated old-time cowboys and ranchers chronicled in cowboy lore

Trefflέ Bonneau of Willow Bunch canned buffalo meat, ranched near Vancouver, worked in lumber camps, and lost an arm. He returned to Bonneauville, ran a store, wed a mail-order bride and had ten children. They moved to Willow Bunch and built up a vast estate, but in the 1930s his renters couldn’t pay, and his empire crumbled. 

Author Wallace Stegner made the name “Slippers” famous in his book Wolf Willow, although he didn’t reveal the man’s real name. Slippers was a Texas cowhand who settled at Eastend, range riding for the Circle Diamond, T-Down and Turkey-Track Ranches. As the story goes, he earned his nickname because he lost all his money gambling at a brothel, and the madam let him stay the night if he forfeited his boots and hat. He returned home wearing slippers, and the name stuck.

A zany but disgruntled rancher at the Matador ranch, James Barnet Henson, left a will in 1919 demanding that proceeds from the sale of his land be used to exterminate “that class of vermin commonly known as farmers.” He also directed that his goods and chattels be sold to buy insect powder and soap, for another cowboy whose standards of personal hygiene he deplored.  

cowboy author Will James
Cowboy, author and illustrator Will James, who came to Saskatchewan from Montreal early in the 20th century, and learned to be a cowboy. – Photo NA-862 from Glenbow Archives, Calgary.

Cowboy Will James of Montreal, alias Ernest Dufault, came west from Montreal as a teenager and learned cowboying in Saskatchewan, working on one of the famous “76” ranches. When he ran afoul of the law, he fled across the border to the U.S. where he achieved fame as an author of such books as Smoky the Cowhorse.

“Scots Metis” Harry Hourie, younger brother of Big Tom Hourie to whom Louis Riel turned himself in, was a renowned bronco-buster who often won at rodeos. Some seven hundred horses and three hundred cattle roamed his own ranch near Wood Mountain. It is said he once rode his horse into a bar, predating the Calgary Stampeders’ custom of riding horses through bars during Grey Cup.

Another famous cowpoke was Harold (Corky) Jones, who came to the Maple Creek area in 1898. He rambled around the ranges at Eastend, worked at the WP ranch, took part in vast roundups of the 76, and battled prairie fires. In 1902 he and Harry A. Crawford ran a ranch at Chimney Coulee where the first Mountie police post had been.  But Corky Jones was better known as a fossil collector.

There was ranching in the north too. The Cyprian Morin family ranched in the Meadow Lake area in 1873, and more cattlemen arrived from 1909 to 1925. (That family sent twenty-four sons off to fight in World War I!) There was enough of a cowboy presence for a stampede there as early as 1920.

William Hall Ogle was an affluent British gent who came to Cannington Manor seeking adventure, but moved on to Wood Mountain. As a greenhorn, he reportedly astonished onlookers by riding a killer bronco on a wild one-hour gallop, until the horse got tuckered out. Ogle married a Sioux, and by 1889 owned a ranch near the Frenchman River. Once he tracked down stolen horses in the U.S. and unmasked a rustling ring. Ogle sired a dynasty of cowboys at Wood Mountain.

In November 1906 American Harry Otterson rode with his shivering wife by buggy in brutal cold from the Bloom Cattle Company ranch in Montana to work at its T-Down Bar Ranch near Eastend. “You picked a fine time to immigrate, Harry” might have been his wife’s refrain that terrible year. His account of their frigid trek across blizzard-blown southwestern Saskatchewan must have impressed Wallace Stegner, who wrote about that winter in Wolf Willow. Later Otterson managed the 50 Mile Ranch, and some say he later had his own.

D.J. Wylie of Maple Creek was a “charming Englishman” who returned to England with Sir John Lister-Kaye to convince investors to pony up for a huge ranching company, and they succeeded. Wylie himself purchased the ranch formerly owned by Michel Oxarart, and became MLA for Maple Creek in 1905.

Bonneau: Poplar Poles and Wagon Trails, 328-30. Slippers: The Best of Billy Bock, Stegner: Wolf Willow. Henson: University of Saskatchewan Archives & Special Collections; On Campus News 19 Feb 1999. James: Millar, Saskatchewan Heroes & Rogues. Jones: Range Riders and Sod Busters, McCourt, Saskatchewan, 63. Morin: Meadow Lake community history. Ogle: Otterson: Otterson manuscript, Sask. Archives. Wylie: McGowan, Grassland Settlers, 60, 135]

Raising critters

Unusual livestock raised in Saskatchewan

Animals other than cattle and hogs are still raised here for meat, dairy, wool or fur. For many, breeding associations exist in the province to promote raising high-quality purebred stock. Others might just be for their novelty. 

At hunting farms, game animals are kept as sport for hunters. There are some half-dozen high-fenced game enclosures in the south, and some in the north. In 2018 there were 175 game farms with animals such as elk, whitetail deer, reindeer, fallow deer, and mule deer.

Buffalo being raised in southern Saskatchewan. Photo by Alistair Mirrlees.

Buffalo once filled the landscape, but now they are carefully husbanded. The Saskatchewan Bison Association (SBA) formed in 1991, keeps track of their numbers, health, safety of their meat, research on them, and commercial aspects. In 2016 there were 303 producers in Saskatchewan raising bison. Hundreds of others roam free in the protected reserve at Grasslands National Park.

Tame rabbits are raised in “rabbitries”, some for their fur, some for their meat and hides, and some as pets. They tend to be located in or near cities. (Wild ones seen hopping around city lawns and gardens annoy groundskeepers and gardeners no end, but children and animal lovers think they are cute.)

When fur coats were status symbols, mink used to be lucrative. But by 2012 there were zero mink farms in Saskatchewan. Who knew then that fur would become politically incorrect, with help from animal activists like Brigitte Bardot? 

Fox ranches used to flourish here, such as the silver fox ranch run by S. Parrot near Saskatoon. It shipped 600 fox pelts every season, plus some mink skins. The Saskatchewan Trappers Association reported only two fox farms in operation here in 2012.

Alpaca wool makes lovely soft sweaters, and alpacas are cute. To keep the species pure, the Saskatchewan Alpaca Breeders Network boasts thirty-six breeders, and there’s an alpaca wool association. In 2016 there were 2,766 llamas and alpacas on 450 Saskatchewan farms.

Llamas are also raised here, although they aren’t as cute, and they spit. Still, one sold at auction for $40,000 in 2002! There are claims they can even herd sheep. There is a Canadian association for them.

When you think about goats, you think of Switzerland or Greece. But we raise ‘em here too, although some say ornery goats with attitude can be a trial. Here, apparently, it’s mainly about the meat. In 2011, 460 farms in Saskatchewan were raising 10,480 goats.

Saskatchewan ranks fourth in Canada as a sheep-producing province. Sheep ranchers, despised by cattlemen, proliferated in the Maple Creek area around 1900. By 1901 the ratio of sheep to cattle in Assiniboia West was bigger than anywhere else in the then Territories. In 1934 their numbers peaked at 381,000, but by 2016 there were still 110,000 sheep here, grown on 871 farms.

In 2018 at least one enterprise, Lazy Plum Farm of Shell Lake in the boreal forest, was raising Tibetan yaks, along with other winter-hardy stock such as exotic breeds of sheep, horses and pigs.

[Buffalo: Goats: Natascia Lypny, Regina Leader-Post, 25 July 2016. Foxes:, StarPhoenix 27 December 1941. Alpacas:; www.statcan. Llamas; Sheep: Statistics Canada Census of Agriculture; breeders’ association websites; LaDow, The Medicine Line, 117; Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Yaks: StarPhoenix 13 December 2108;]

Politics: The Art of the Possible

Politics: The Art of the Possible

Lean to the left, lean to the right

Political tendencies in our provincial politics

The history of Saskatchewan politics has been like a tri-colour rainbow – with conservative, socialist and centrist hues.

But lesser-known parties in provincial politics have included Farmer-Labour, Liberal-Labour, Unity, Provincial Rights Party, Conservative Liberal. Conservative, Social Credit, Independent Liberal, and Independent Pro-government, each with their own political leanings.

From 1905 until 1944 the Liberals ran the show, except for Conservative premier James T.M Anderson’s administration, 1929-34. During this period a predominant contingent of immigrants from outside this province consisted of Liberal Farmers from Ontario.

From 1944 when Tommy Douglas took over, the CCF/NDP were at the helm until 1961. The socialist “tendency” came from a new wave of urban, working class immigrants from Britain tending toward socialism.

Liberal Ross Thatcher was premier 1964 to 1982. After that the Liberal party was never given the reins again.

After 1980, NDP support tended to come from our cities.

Since 1982, power has swung back and forth between socialists and conservatives, if you consider the Saskatchewan Party conservative. In 2007 four Tories and four Liberals joined to form the Saskatchewan Party, supposedly to present a united front against the NDP.

From 1999 to 2003, the Romanow and Calvert governments benefitted from a coalition with the Liberals.

[“The Patterns of Prairie Politics” by Nelson Wiseman, in The Prairie West: Historical Readings; Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan]

A mouse that roared?

Our voice in parliament

Usually there are fourteen MPS representing Saskatchewan in Parliament.

The number of Saskatchewan MPs in Parliament is minuscule because of our relatively tiny population, but our collective voice often thundered, thanks to many Saskatchewan cabinet ministers and a couple of prime ministers.

Federal cabinet ministers have included Otto Lang, James G. Gardiner, Lloyd Axworthy, Ray Hnatyshyn, Ralph Goodale, and James Moore, to name a few.

John Diefenbaker and Mackenzie King, both prime ministers, have represented Saskatchewan ridings.

Federally, the conservatives swept the province in the 2019 election, as in Alberta. Some say that sweep reflected western economic uncertainties.

[; Norman Ward, Saskatchewan entry in Hurtig’s Canadian Encyclopedia.] 

Follow the leader

Some well-known male politicians in Parliament

Lloyd Axworthy: First elected to Parliament in 1979, he served in the cabinets of three Liberal prime ministers. Born in North Battleford, he earned a PhD and was president of the University of Winnipeg for ten years. Honours he received are legion.  

Major James William Coldwell (“M.J.”) was a founder of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (later the NDP).  In 1932, he was chosen to lead the new Saskatchewan Farmer-Labour Party (later part of the CCF). Later he was MP for Rosetown-Biggar.

Potrait of T.C. douglas
Thomas Clement Douglas, once voted our top Canadian, is considered to be one of the two Fathers of Medicare. Photo from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas of Weyburn was one of the primary movers and shakers behind socialized medicine, and he introduced many other social programs emulated in other provinces. In 2004 he was voted the “Greatest Canadian.”

illustration of John Diefenbaker
Illustration by Ruth Millar

John George Diefenbaker of Prince Albert and Saskatoon, Progressive Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, U of S alumnus and later chancellor of the university, was the only prime minister of Canada who was really from this province.

James G. Gardiner was not only our premier in the 1920s and 1930s, but served as federal minister of agriculture 1935-7 and minister of national war services 1940-41. The Gardiner Dam was named after him.

Ralph Goodale was long a prominent spokesperson for Saskatchewan. In Ottawa he served as Minister of Public Safety, Minister of Finance, and he led the Saskatchewan Liberal Party 1981 to 1988. His defeat in the 2019 electoral sweep of Saskatchewan and Alberta was mourned by many across the political spectrum.

Ray Hantyshyn
Ray Hnatyshyn. Photo from University of Saskatchewan Archives & Special Collections

Ramon Hnatyshyn of Saskatoon was Canada’s first Ukrainian governor general, serving 1989 to 1995. A lawyer, he was elected to Parliament in 1974, became a cabinet minister and also served as Chancellor of Carleton University.

Otto Lang, Rhodes scholar and former dean of law at the U of S, became a prominent cabinet minister in Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government, holding a raft of key positions including Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Charles Mayer, U of S alumnus, served as a Member of Parliament for fifteen years and for nine years served as a cabinet minister in various ministries.  He is best known for his service to the agricultural industry.

James A. Moore, a U of S grad (masters in political studies), was Minister of Industry in the Harper government, representing a B.C. riding.

Andrew Scheer, currently leader of the Conservative Party and the Official Opposition in Ottawa, was the youngest Speaker to be appointed in Parliament. Born in Ottawa, he finished his BA at the University of Regina, and was first elected MP for that riding in 2004.

Women leaders too

Some female politicians on the national scene

Although nowadays many women grace the House of Commons and the Senate, the path to national status was blazed by women such as these:

Raynell Andreychuk, born in Saskatoon and U of S grad, has been a lawyer and a judge, and in 1993 became the first Saskatchewan woman to be appointed a senator. She also served as high commissioner to Kenya and Uganda, and ambassador to Somalia and Portugal.

Carol Skelton of Biggar joined the federal cabinet on February 6, 2006, thus becoming the first female federal cabinet minister from Saskatchewan.

Lillian Dyck, born in North Battleford, was the first female senator of First Nations descent and first Canadian-born Chinese senator. Holding a PhD in biological psychiatry, she is on the U of S faculty, and is a renowned advocate for equal rights for women

Marion Adams Macpherson, born in Moose Jaw and a U of S alumna, served four decades in the Canadian foreign service, first in Washington D.C., then Ghana, New York City, and Sri Lanka. She was Canadian ambassador to Denmark and High Commissioner to Zambia.

Pana Merchant of Prince Albert, U of S and U of R grad, was a teacher and businesswoman. who became a senator in 2002 and retired in 2017. 

The first female MP from Saskatchewan was Dorise Nielsen of the Unity Party (communist) and labour-progressive, who represented North Battleford from 1940 to 1945.

Jeanne Sauvé was one of Saskatchewan’s most illustrious citizens. She was born in Prud’homme, educated in Ottawa and Paris, worked as a journalist for the CBC, and was elected to the House of Commons in 1972. She served as a cabinet minister, Speaker of the House and finally as Canada’s first female Governor General, 1980 to 1984.

Another early female MP was Gladys Strum, a farm woman from Windthorst. A U of S grad, she represented Qu’Appelle from 1945–1949, and was the first female president of the CCF — and the first woman to head a Canadian political party. 

Pamela Wallin (OC, SOM) of Wadena has been a social worker, diplomat, entrepreneur, author, print and radio journalist, TV anchor, and a senator. She was instrumental in setting up the U of S Women’s Centre.

[Canadian Encyclopedia;, Who’s Who in Canada, personal websites]

Ladies first

Female trailblazers in provincial politics

There have been at least twenty-three female cabinet ministers in Saskatchewan, but we have never had a female premier. Still, an Alberta premier studied here.

First Ukrainian woman elected to a provincial legislature was Mary Batten, née Fodchuk, educated at Calder, Ituna, Regina and at the U of S. She was a lawyer and judge, and articled with John Diefenbaker

Joan Duncan and Patricia Anne Smith became the first female cabinet members in Saskatchewan, in 1982.

Sylvia Fedoruk, mentioned elsewhere, became Saskatchewan’s first female lieutenant-governor in 1988. she was also a curling star, and a science giant.

In 1989 MLA Lynda Haverstock was the first woman to lead a political party in our province, as head of the Liberals. Later she became our lieutenant governor.

Rita Margaret Johnston was born in Melville. In British Columbia she became a city councillor, an MLA, a cabinet minister, deputy premier, and briefly Canada’s first woman premier, leading the Social Credit Party after the BC premier resigned in 1991.

Pearl McGonigal was born in Melville. She became a Winnipeg city councilor, deputy mayor, and then in 1981 the first female lieutenant governor of Manitoba. She was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1984 and the Order of Manitoba in 2000.

Florence McOrmond, community organizer, relief worker and women’s advocate in the then town of Sutherland (now a suburb of Saskatoon) was Saskatchewan’s first female mayor.

Sarah Ramsland, our first female MLA, took over her husband’s constituency in Pelly after he died of the deadly Spanish influenza, and then won the seat in her own right.

Alison Redford, fourteenth premier of Alberta, graduated from the College of Law at the U of S. She was awarded the Jubilee Medal.

Votes for women!

Movers and shakers

Women got the vote in municipal and provincial elections in 1916. In 1917 limited female franchise was enacted federally, and expanded in 1918 to include most women. Asians were excluded until after World War II. Not until 1960 could Indigenous people on reserves vote.

Nicholas Flood Davin, Regina publisher, journalist and MP, was an unlikely feminist, but in 1895 he rose in Parliament to propose the franchise for women. On 8 May 1895, he was quoted: “… the privilege of voting for candidates for membership should be extended to women possessing the qualifications which now entitle men to the electoral franchise.”

Journalist Violet McNaughton of Harris, founder and president of the Women Grain Growers Association (WGGA), also founded the provincial Equal Franchise Board in 1915.  It united the WGGA, the WCTU and the regional Political Equality Leagues in a campaign for federal female suffrage after the war.

Journalist Frances Marion Beynon (with her sister Lillian Beynon Thomas) campaigned in print for readers to write to Premier Scott calling for women’s suffrage.

Alice Lawton of Yorkton, first president of the EFB, led a delegation to meet with Premier Scott in 1916 to present a petition of 10,000 signatures clamoring for the provincial franchise for women. A month later they won the provincial vote.

Zoe Haight of Keeler worked with Violet McNaughton on the WGGA executive.

Isabel Cleveland of Saskatoon wowed the audience at a Liberal convention in Moose Jaw in 1917 with her stirring speech advocating the franchise for women in federal elections. 

Erma Stocking of Perdue was active in the WGGA and wrote newspaper columns on women’s issues, including suffrage, in the grain growers’ newspaper.  She was also a strong advocate for rural libraries.

Annie Hollis from Shaunavon, promoted the WGGA’s ideals, which included votes for women.

[Davin: House of Commons Debates, 1895, vol. 1, c. 701; others: women’s suffrage exhibit, Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, fall 2018; Saskatchewan History fall 1994, 6]


What premiers did before they became premiers

Scott Moe, Shellbrook, 2018: Sask Party; public administrator, economic development, physician

Brad Wall, Swift Current: 2007-2018; Sask Party; public administrator, economic development

Lorne Calvert, Moose Jaw: 2001-2007; NDP: United Church minister

Roy Romanow as young man.
Roy Romanow as a young man, Photo QC-1678-1-B, ca. 1960 by CFQC staff, from Local History Room,
Saskatoon Public Library.

Roy Romanow, Saskatoon: 1991-2001: NDP: radio announcer, lawyer, partner in private firm, law professor. He was president of the U of S Student Union in the 1960s.

Grant Devine, Saskatoon: 1982-1991; PC: agriculture professor, U of S.

Allan Blakeney, Regina: 1971-1982; NDP: civil servant, Saskatchewan government, law professor, U of S.

Ross Thatcher, Moose Jaw: 1964-1971: Liberal: hardware store businessman.

Woodrow Lloyd, Biggar: 1961-1964; NDP: school principal, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president.

T.C “Tommy” Douglas, Weyburn: 1944-1961; NDP: Baptist church minister

William J. Patterson, Windhorst: 1935-1944; Liberal: businessman, finance and insurance agency

J.G. “Jimmy” Gardiner, Lemberg: 1934-35, 1926-1929; Liberal: farmer, school principal

J.T.M. Anderson, Regina: 1929-1934:  Con./Prog: director of education, Regina Public Schools

Charles Dunning, Regina: 1922-1926; Liberal: business executive, Sask. Co-op elevator company

William M. Martin, Regina: 1916-1922; Liberal: politician, lawyer, federal M.P.

Walter Scott, Regina: 1905-1916: businessman, publisher of Regina Leader-Post