Amazing Things about Saskatchewan

Amazing Things about Saskatchewan

Tooting our horn

Things you might not know about Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s population is 3.2 percent of the total for Canada, but consider our contributions to Canada!

World War I claimed the lives of 4,385 of our servicemen and World War II more than 70,000.

At 651,900 square kms (251,699 square miles), Saskatchewan sprawls over more real estate than all France at 643,801 square kms (248,572 square miles).

Our provincial network of roads and highways measures 228,200 kms, 29,500 of them paved. 

Saskatchewan is indeed Canada’s “breadbasket,” with 37 million acres of crop-producing land, 41.7 percent of the Canadian total. 

Saskatchewan has 10,000 lakes. The deepest is Deep Bay at Reindeer Lake, a meteor crater gouged more than 100 million years ago. 

Saskatchewan is gaining international renown for its subterranean treasure trove of fossils, including dinosaurs and prehistoric marine and winged creatures.

Saskatchewan boasts a dazzling number of firsts related to the achievement of tax-funded hospitalization and Medicare. 

We have more fly-in fishing camps than almost anywhere in the world.

At least twelve Saskies have received the supreme honour, appointment as Companions of the Order of Canada.

At least fourteen Saskies have been honoured by a British monarch, with appointment to the Order of the British Empire. 

At least ten of our writers are winners of a Governor General’s literary award, at least two have won the Scotiabank Giller award, and at least one was awarded the Booker award in Britain.

[; Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan; Archer, Saskatchewan: A history; Lorne Clinton, Alberta Venture 2 May 2008, and other sources] 

“Wrong” sign | unsplash

You’re so wrong!

Common misconceptions about Saskatchewan

Ranging from observations by Captains John Palliser (Palliser Expedition, 1858) and William F. Butler (The Great Lone Land, 1872) to more recent assumptions, usually made by tourists who crossed the province on the Trans-Canada highway.

Saskatchewan is just a vast flatland.” 

Running from the 49th parallel north to the 60th, Saskatchewan is the fifth largest Canadian province. The north is mostly rugged precambrian rock, while the south is largely overlain by glacial deposits, with scattered coulees (former glacial spillways) and a few flat areas (glacial lake bottoms). The Cypress Hills in the southwest, rising to 1,392 metres above sea level, are the highest place between the Rocky Mountains and Quebec’s Appalachians.

“Saskatchewan is a semi-arid prairie province, lacking water resources.”

In fact, the northern half is essentially boreal forest, dotted by 10,000 freshwater lakes. While Palliser’s Triangle in the southwest is the driest part of the grasslands, it usually gets enough rain for dryland farming.

“Saskatchewan was an empty wilderness before European settlers arrived around 1900.”

In fact, since about 9,500 BCE, it was inhabited by diverse indigenous peoples, each with their own cultures and political systems. Southerners depended on vast roaming herds of bison, while most northerners made their living by hunting and trapping in the boreal forests. In both areas, the First Nations had been making deals with Hudson’s Bay Company agents for more than a century before Canadian settlement began.

Saskatchewan is a rural, agricultural province.”

In fact, since 1950, with 70 percent rural population, until now, when it’s only about 30 percent, Saskatchewan has “urbanized” faster than any other province. Though farm output doubled in that period, the non-agricultural sector has become the economic mainstay, as farm mechanization and improved transport led to rural depopulation. 

“Saskatchewan has a diverse, multicultural population.”

In fact, over 80 percent of Saskies were born and raised here, many to the second and third generation. The descendants of European immigrants with distinctive languages and customs have largely blended into the Canadian mainstream. More recent migrants from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East tend to cluster in the cities, where there are more jobs and more guidance in adapting. Ironically the biggest divide remains between the First Nations and the “interlopers.”

“The people of Saskatchewan are all socialists.

In fact, while it’s true that Saskatchewan was the birthplace of hospitalization, Medicare and other socialist measures under the CCF/NDP, Saskies have been electing Conservative governments intermittently, all along.

Famous Saskies

People everyone should know about

Most Saskies are aware of our superstars such as Joni Mitchell, Tommy Douglas, John Diefenbaker, Gordie Howe, Buffy Saint-Marie. Here are some who lived in Saskatchewan that you might not know about (more info on them and hundreds more are in relevant chapters).

Comedian Art Linkletter, famous for American radio and television series including “People are Funny” and others, was born 18 July 1912 in Moose Jaw to S.W. Kalle and his wife, but Art was adopted and taken to San Diego. He found this out during a 1974 visit to his birthplace.

Nobel Prize winner Gerhard Herzberg was brought to the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. John Spinks in the 1930s, after they had met in Germany. 

Celebrated NFL football player Reuben Mayes of North Battleford came from a famous African-American family in the Maidstone area, who had led about a thousand ex-slaves to the province in 1910.

Grant MacEwan, who moved with his family to Melfort in 1915, once taught animal science at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and was briefly an editor at the Western Producer. He was an MLA and lieutenant-governor of Alberta, best-selling author of fifty-five books, the man with a college named after him.

Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) lived for a year in Prince Albert after her father moved there with his new wife, but returned to Prince Edward Island to write her remarkable series of Anne books.  

Television broadcaster Keith Morrison of Lloydminster honed his skills as CFQC Saskatoon, and later became a familiar face as CBC-TV anchorman, NBC Dateline.

Leslie Nielsen of Regina acted in serious films such as Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure, and zany ones like Airplane and the Naked Gun

Celebrated actor and comedian Eric Peterson of Indian Head trained in the U of S drama department. He played the famous flying ace in Billy Bishop Goes to War and in the TV series Street Legal, Corner Gas, and This is Wonderland.

Actress Shannon Tweed, formerly of Saskatoon, is best known as the wife of Kiss band member Gene Simmons.

Tenor Jon Vickers of Prince Albert, was an international opera star who performed major roles in London, Milan and New York.

[Linkletter: Not Only a Name: a Long Love Letter from Moose Jaw; MacEwan: Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan,567-8 ; Mayes: CBC; Battleford News-Optimist]   

Surprising connections

Famous (and infamous) folks with ties to our province

The legendary American outlaw Butch Cassidy and his “Wild Bunch” used to hide out in the Big Muddy badlands in southern Saskatchewan. The caves are still there.

Father Bacchiocci, a Swift Current priest, was said to be the grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Al Capone's Hideaway motel in Moose Jaw.
A motel in Moose Jaw commemorates the famous Chicago gangster said to have stayed there often
during the Prohibition era. Photo by Patricia Pavey.

Chicago gangster Al Capone is said to have frequented Moose Jaw during the Prohibition era. Saskatchewan authors and the tourism sector have exploited this belief.

Inspector Francis Dickens, son of novelist Charles Dickens, was commanding the NWMP garrison at Fort Pitt during the Riel Resistance, but was persuaded to evacuate his men to Battleford, under threat of attack by militant warriors in Big Bear’s band. 

Poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s nephew Bertram Tennyson homesteaded at Cannington Manor near Moosomin. His book of poems did not launch a spectacular literary career, but he stuck to his day job, lawyering.  He was also known to have pinch-hit as stagecoach driver from time to time. 

Aristocrat from Whitewood
Count Beaudrap, who lived at Cannington manor for a while, was said to be related to Joan of Arc!

A couple of nobles associated with the French settlement at St. Hubert, were not shy in their claims to historical prestige. French count Paul de Beaudrap de Denneville (Marche) claimed he was a distant relative of Joan of Arc. He farmed for a while at St. Hubert.

Eminent literary critic Northrop Frye was once a student minister and itinerant preacher at Stonepile near the Cypress Hills for about two years.  The problem was, he couldn’t ride horseback. He was later ordained as a United Church minister.

American author Sinclair Lewis in 1924 went on a canoe trip with his physician brother Claude and the “treaty brigade” officials of the Department of Indian Affairs on their annual trek to dispense treaty money to northern tribes. 

Author Gabrielle Roy had a family connection to Eastend (or Dollard just down the road). Her uncle brought French settlers to the area so she had at least one first cousin in the town. Her autobiography, translated into English as Enchantment and Sorrow, received the Governor-General’s award in 1987.

Writer Robert Fulford was the nephew of Theresa Fulford Delaney, one of some eighty white settlers who spent two months in the camp of Big Bear in the 1885 North West Resistance.

Maple Creek rancher and storekeeper Horace Greeley was a second or third cousin of the famous American author and statesman Horace Greeley.

Hollywood horror film star Boris Karlov performed in Saskatchewan during his early acting years, with a repertory theatre company that suddenly folded. But the very next day the “Regina Cyclone” devastated much of Regina, and he got a job helping to clean it up.

William Wordsworth’s wife was reportedly the aunt of Henry Hutchinson, the first settler in the Souris area between Carnduff and the American border.

The famous physicist Albert Einstein played hockey as a youth in Germany. Einstein is famous for having developed the theory of relativity and for his contributions to quantum mechanics theory. Reportedly, one winter while formulating his world-shaking theory, he took a break in Saskatchewan to play for the Canwood Canucks.

Aldous Huxley once carried on a lively correspondence with Humphrey Osmond, who was working on psychedelic drugs at the Weyburn mental hospital. Osmond coined the word “psychedelic.”

Band leader Matt Kearney worked on the harvest excursions at Moosomin, in southern Saskatchewan.

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons television series, was the son of Homer Groening, whose name inspired his Homer character. The senior Groening, born in Main Centre, Sask., was a cartoonist too.

Saskatchewan author Fredelle Maynard’s daughter Joyce was a teenager at Yale, on scholarship, when she fell in love with author J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye) and left after a year to move in with him.  He was thirty-five years her senior. A year later he dumped her and she wrote At Home in the World about it all, but it was panned. She did not return to Yale.

People with links to Saskatchewan
Actor and musician Kiefer Sutherland is Tommy Douglas’s grandson.

Actor Kiefer Sutherland is the grandson of former premier Thomas C. Douglas, whose daughter Shirley married actor Donald Sutherland. Kiefer plays the highly-principled “accidental president” in the television series Designated Survivor

[Einstein: Saskatchewan Book of Everything, 126. Fulford: Sarah Carter’s introduction to Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear. Joan of Arc: Count De Beaudrap from Revue Historique vol 10 no. 2 at U of S Archives & Special Collections; Whitewood Museum; Revue Historique v. 10 no. 2 December 1999. Karlov: G. Ross Stuart, The History of Prairie Theatre, 70. Maynard: Vogue 13 Sept 2018,Vanity Fair September 1998. Napoleon: Spasoff, Back to the Past. Tennyson: Literary History of Saskatchewan, p.46, vol. 1. Count Uytendale, display panel at Whitewood Museum. Fulford: Saturday Night, June 1976, 970. Wordsworth: McCourt, Saskatchewan, 33-4; ]

Portrayed on screen and stage

Outstanding Saskies who inspired dramatic interpretations of their lives 

Archie Belaney is portayed in Grey Owl, a movie directed by Richard Attenborough, starring Pierce Brosnan. Belaney was an outspoken early conservationist, but pretended to be Grey Owl, an Aboriginal in the northern wilds, and was one of Canada’s most intriguing imposters. 

illustration of Big Bear
Illustration of Big Bear by Ruth Millar – based on a photograph]

Chief Big Bear, Cree leader in 1885 Northwest (Riel) Resistance is the subject of a CBC Television mini-series Big Bear based on Rudy Wiebe’s novel The Temptations of Big Bear, starring Gordon Tootoosis. Unlike other Cree chiefs, Big Bear refused to sign Treaty Six until the starvation of his tribe forced him to capitulate.

Hugh Cairns, VC, war hero is depicted in the play The Great War by Don Kerr, 25th Street Theatre. A statue commemorates him in a Saskatoon park.

Morris Cohen, former juvenile delinquent in Saskatoon in the early 1900s, inspired Don Kerr’s play Two-Gun Cohen, and reportedly an early Hollywood film The General Died at Dawn was loosely based on his life. A full-length book, Two Gun Cohen, was published by New York author Daniel Levy.

Nicholas Flood Davin is characterized in Ken Mitchell’s play, Davin: The Politician. A colourful, outspoken journalist, lawyer and MP, he founded the Regina Leader newspaper. He is noted in history for his ill-starred relationship with journalist and author Kate Simpson-Hayes.

illustration of John Diefenbaker
Diefenbaker – illustration by Ruth Millar for

John Diefenbaker, the only prime minister from Saskatchewan, is depicted in the play Diefenbaker by Thelma Oliver. It starred Terrence Slater, Norma Edwards and Patricia Lenyre.

Thomas C. (Tommy) Douglas, a father of Medicare: Prairie Giant, is portrayed in a CBC Television miniseries; and Keeper of the Flame (documentary). 

Gabriel Dumont, Metis leader in the North-West Resistance is depicted in the play Gabriel Dumont by Ken Mitchell. Dumont escaped to the U.S. where he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Father Athol Murray of Wilcox: the play Murray of Notre Dame by Tony Cashman, is the main protagonist in the movie The Hounds of Notre Dame by Ken Mitchell, starring Frances Hyland, and Barry Morse.

Louis Riel, Metis leader in North-West Resistance, is portrayed in The Trial of Louise Riel, a play by John Coulter (1967) based on the transcripts of Riel’s trial.

Seager Wheeler, a plant breeder known as the Wheat King, inspired the play Harvest Moon, shown every year in Rosthern for years. 

Colin Thatcher, son of former premier Ross Thatcher, is depicted in Love and Hate: The Story of Colin and Joanne Thatcher, by Maggie Siggins and Suzette Couture. Colin Thatcher was convicted of having his wife murdered, but he always claimed to be innocent. 

Order of Canada medals
Order of Canada medals

“Knights” of the realm

Companions of the Order of Canada

“Companion” (CC) is the top rank of the Order of Canada (the others are CM, Member, and OC, Officer). The Order of Canada could be considered our version of knighthood. (These are cited elsewhere at more length in this website.) Some were also honoured as Fellows of the Royal Society, and the Royal Society of Canada (too many to list here).

Lloyd Barber, born in Regina – former president of the University of Regina.

Lloyd Axworthy, born in North Battleford – former minister in Prime Minister Chretien’s government.

Samuel Bronfman of Wapella – liquor industry baron and philanthropist associated with the mighty Seagram’s.

Balfour Currie, Kindersley and Saskatoon – head of physics at the U of S, founder of Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, and other lofty academic posts.

E.M. Culliton, Elbow – former Justice of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan and Chief Justice of Saskatchewan.

Brian Dickson, Yorkton – lawyer, puisne justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and later Canada’s fifteenth Chief Justice of Canada.  

Tommy Douglas, Weyburn – former premier of Saskatchewan, one of the two Fathers of Medicare, once voted our country’s “greatest Canadian.”

Willard Estey, Saskatoon – moved to Ontario, appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal, became Chief Justice of Ontario, later appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Emmett Hall, Saskatoon – law professor and judge, one of the two Fathers of Medicare. He became Chief Justice of Saskatchewan and chaired several royal commissions and public inquiries.

Gerhard Herzberg – Nobel prize winner and professor at the U of S; he fled to Saskatoon from wartime Germany. His many important posts include that of physics director at the National Research Council.

Ray Hnatsyshyn, Saskatoon, MP and cabinet minister, and later a senator.

Albert Wesley Johnson, Insinger – held several top posts in the federal government before becoming president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Chalmers Jack (CJ) Mackenzie, Saskatoon, former dean at U of S, called the most important Canadian in the growth of science after World War II. In Ottawa he became president of Atomic Energy of Canada and the National Research Council of Canada.

Joni Mitchell, Saskatoon – world-renowned singer.

Hilda Neatby, Saskatoon – academic, professor of history at the U of S, especially noted for her ideas on education.

Jeanne Sauve, Prud’homme – former governor-general.

Walter P. Thompson, Saskatoon, scientist and former University of Saskatchewan president.

Jon Vickers, Prince Albert – a former farm boy who soared to international opera stages, notably Covent Garden in London, England

[The Canadian Encyclopedia and other sources.]

“For King and country”

Saskies honoured by the Order of the British Empire

Being invested in Britain’s OBE carries impressive prestige. A surprising number of Saskies were so honoured, usually for heroic efforts abroad during the world wars. The ranks are: Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), member (MBE).

George Findlay Andrew served in British intelligence in China in both the world wars. Here he wears traditional Chinese garb with pride,
in the country of his birth.

Findlay Andrew (OBE), who moved to Saskatoon in 1959, received his award at Buckingham Palace on July 20th, 1920, for secret war work in China. If secrecy was involved, the OBE handbook often doesn’t cite specific actions of people so honoured. His papers, which include a letter inviting him to London to receive the award, suggest it was for sending vital “intel” to the British from his strategic location in the northwest. Some thought it was for helping prevent a Uighur uprising, which could have led to another pro-German front.

Henry Black of Regina was made a commander of the OBE in 1935 for his work with the Saskatchewan Relief Commission, created by the Anderson government in 1931 to administer relief measures during the desperate days of the Depression. The commission was axed in 1934 by Liberal premier J.G Gardiner due to public criticism.

Elizabeth Cruikshank was a leader in the Local Council of Women in Regina. She was noted for her war work, and was active in the Saskatchewan Natural History Society. She was also an author and a Leader-Post columnist. [Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan]

Dr. Robert George Ferguson, a heroic figure in the fight against tuberculosis in Saskatchewan,  reportedly was honoured with an OBE. [Star-Phoenix, undated clipping, likely in 1942.

Joan Bamford Fletcher of Regina got her OBE for leading some two thousand women and children to safety out of a Japanese prison camp in the jungles of Sumatra, in twenty separate convoys along dangerous switchback roads, at the close of World War II. The jungles were swarming with hostile Indonesians fighting for independence from the Dutch. Japanese soldiers, now demobilized, assisted her in the hair-raising exodus.

Air Vice Marshall Arthur Clinton Maund (CBE) of the hamlet of Cando was also honoured as Commander of the Order of the Bath, and with the Distinguished Service Order, and received one Russian and two French medals for his military exploits in World War I. He had enlisted in the Saskatchewan Light Horse in Battleford but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. After the war he served in Russia, 1919-20.

RCAF Group Captain Ernest Archibald McNab (OBE, CD, DFC) of Rosthern also received a Distinguished Flying Cross. An air ace, he commanded Canada’s first RACF fighter squadron abroad in 1940. Son the McNab who became lieutenant-governor, he got his OBE for outstanding war work.

Violet McNaughton on stage with dignitaries
Farm leader Violet McNaughton addresses crowd at Indian Head celebrating founders of the Territorial Grain Growers Association, August 19, 1955. Also on stage are James Gardiner (left), ex-premier, and T.C. Douglas, premier. Photo by Western Producer, from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library

Violet McNaughton (OBE) was an outstanding feminist, newspaper columnist and women’s editor at the Western Producer, noted for her role as a leader of farm women and in achieving the franchise for women. She was active in many important early farm organizations. In 1924 King George V conferred to her the OBE for services to rural women.

Ellaf Olafson (MBE), a war hero born in Shaunavon and brought up in Eston, studied engineering at the U of S. In World War II, as a captain in the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he designed an innovative portable bridge that was built in record time to expedite Allied river crossings in Italy.

George Porteous (MBE) of Saskatoon was posted to Hong Kong with the Winnipeg Grenadiers during the Japanese siege of 1941 when more than 1075 Canadians were killed or wounded; others were taken prisoner. He was awarded his MBE for maintaining morale among his fellow prisoners, who for four years suffered unspeakable ordeals. A Scot, he had come to Canada in 1910 and attended high school and university in Saskatoon. Long after the war he became the 14th Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan.

Alleyre Sirois (CM, MBE) originally from Vonda, was invested as a member of the OBE for his war work in intelligence for the British Special Operations Executive in France. He also received the French Croix de Guerre. On his return to Canada he studied law and, practiced in Gravelbourg before becoming a Queen’s Court judge in Saskatoon in 1964.

Dr. John William Tranter spinks, former president at the U of S, – Photo from University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections.

John William Tranter Spinks (CC, MBE, SOM), president of the University of Saskatchewan 1960 to 1975, was invested as a member of the Order for his work in Britain during World War II, “developing search and rescue procedures for missing aircraft.“ He was also named a Companion of the Order of Canada, member of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and a Saskatoon Citizen of the Year.

Harry Thode, born in Dundurn, received two degrees at the U of S followed by a PhD in the U.S. Noted for his work in atomic research, he was honoured by the Order of Canada and the Order of the British Empire, and was also a Fellow of the Royal Society. He became president and chancellor of McMaster University in 1961. [Star-Phoenix 14 April 2017]

Plant breeder Seager Wheeler (MBE) known as the Wheat King, helped boost Saskatchewan as the “bread basket of the world.” He assisted mother nature in selecting the best wheat seeds (some from mutants) he had grown, exhibiting them at agricultural fairs around the world and developing new strains.

Pilot Officer E.A. Wickenkamp (OBE) of Stenen joined the RAF in 1938. He received the OBE for rescuing two crew members after the crash of his aircraft. A month later, he was shot down and killed during an attack on a battleship.

[Andrew: unpublished ms. by Ruth Millar. Black: Commander_of_the_Order_of_the British_Empire. Fletcher: Millar, Saskatchewan Heroes & Rogues. Maund: Canadian Virtual War Memorial and other websites. McNaughton: Herstory, 1971. Olafson: Spasoff, Back to the Past. Porteous: Sirois: Green & White fall 2005. Spinks: Canadian Encyclopedia. Other sources: Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Wikipedia]

Saskatchewan emblems

In 1941, the western red lily was chosen as our official flower. It grows in meadows and semi-wooded areas where its flaming red blossoms stand out like flames against a natural green background. 

The sharp-tailed grouse was selected as the provincial bird emblem in 1945.

Our official flag was adopted in 1969. It features the provincial shield of arms, with the western red lily. The flag’s upper half is green, symbolizing northern forests; the lower half is gold, symbolic of southern grain areas.

The Saskatchewan fish is the walleye.

Saskatchewan’s fruit is the Saskatoon berry

In 2001, needle-and-thread grass was chosen as our official grass. It’s a native bunchgrass common to the dry, sandy soils of the northern plains. Its seeds are sharply pointed and have long, twisted, thread-like fibres.

Our provincial district tartan features the colours gold, brown, green, red, yellow, white and black. Registered in Scotland in 1961, it was introduced in 1997 for highland dancers. 

In 1988, the white birch was adopted as Saskatchewan’s official tree. This hardwood tree is found across the northern 75 percent of the province. 

Sylvite, a.k.a. potash, is Saskatchewan’s official mineral. We are the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash, over 95 percent of it used for fertilizer.

The white-tailed deer became our official animal in 2001. It tends to be larger in the north than in the south. Adults have a reddish-brown summer coat and a greyish-brown winter coat, with white underparts. 

Curling became our official sport in 2001. It has a rich history here, from the Richardson brothers in the 1950s to Sandra Schmirler in the 90s. 

“From Many Peoples Strength”: The provincial coat of arms was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986, adapted from the 1906 shield of arms. With a crest of a beaver and crown on top, a lion and deer flank the shield, which displays the royal lion and three gold wheat sheaves. Western red lilies form the base.

Cast in stone (or bronze, or…)

Saskies immortalized in statues & monuments

Chief White Cap and Saskatoon founder John Lake are depicted in a sculpture near the east end of the newly-built Victoria Bridge in Saskatoon. 

Chief Payepot (Piapot), cast by Lyndon Tootoosis, marks the signing of Treaty 4 in Regina. 

Statue of Metis leader Gabriel Dumont in a Saskatoon Park.
Statue of Metis leader Gabriel Dumont
in a Saskatoon Park.

Metis leader Gabriel Dumont is commemorated in a statue in a riverside park in Saskatoon.

A statue of Metis Leader Louis Riel in Regina showing his private parts so offended the Metis Association that the offending image was banished to the basement of the Mackenzie Art Gallery. 

First premier Walter Scott is depicted in a statue in Regina.

A statue of Edouard Beaupre, the Willow Bunch giant, stands in front of a local museum named in his honour.

A full-length statue of Sgt. Hugh Cairns VC, World War Ihero, is in Kinsmen Park in Saskatoon.  

A life-size equestrian statue of artist Count Berthold von Imhoff adorns the village of St. Walburg. 

A head-and-shoulders bust of early MP and newspaper owner Nicholas Flood Davin by Earl G. Drake graces Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa.  

A statue in Saskatoon by sculptor Bill Epp immortalizes the Saskatchewan-born senator Ramon Hnatyshyn, an esteemed Ukrainian-Canadian hero and governor general of Canada for five years.

Statues depicting an encounter between newsboy John Diefenbaker (later prime minister) and Wilfred Laurier is prominently displayed at 1st Avenue and 21st Street in Saskatoon.

A head-and-shoulders bust of early MP and newspaper owner Nicholas Flood Davin is in Ottawa.

Statue of writer Farley Mowat
Statue of writer Farley Mowat on
the U of S campus

A statue of Farley Mowat, famous author, graces the U of S campus.

Famed hockey star Gordie Howe, can be seen in effigy at Sasktel Centre.

Popular radio host Denny Carr’s statue is located in a Saskatoon riverbank park. 

A statue of luminary Frederick W. Hill in Regina, was created by Russian artist Leo Mall (Leonard Molodozhanyn).

In the College of Education Building, University of Saskatchewan a new bust stands in the main hallway to commemorate beloved professor David Kaplan, who was a vibrant and influential mentor in the music world in Saskatoon. His Klezmer Band was and is extremely popular amongst Jews and gentiles alike,

Crime and Justice

Crime and Justice

Murder & mayhem

Notorious legal cases that made headlines

Wolfers on trial: The trial took place in Winnipeg, but people here held their breath when three American “wolfers” were tried for murdering thirty natives in the Cypress Hills Massacre of June 1873. Opinion was split in the U.S. and Canada. The judge acquitted the wolfers, but Canadians weren’t pleased. Within weeks Parliament voted to create the North West Mounted Police — its mission to maintain law and order in the west.

The trial of Louis Riel deliberated the Metis leader’s role in the 1885 North-West Resistance, a five-month military clash between the feds and the Metis and some indigenous supporters. It was sparked by tension over land rights, and sweeping social and political changes caused by European settlement. Hundreds were killed, but the government finally triumphed. After a sensational trial, Louis Riel was hanged. The debate continues whether he was a hero, a deranged mystic, or a traitor, but the “rebellion” has affected race relations here ever since.

Race in restaurants: A Chinese café owner in Moose Jaw got into trouble for employing two white women, which the 1912 Female Labour Act forbade. Quong Wing took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, but lost. Not until 1969 was the law erased from the books.

Book cover, Deny, deny, deny.

R. v. Thatcher was probably the most high-profile “whodunit” case in recent decades. Saskatchewan Rancher, MLA and Cabinet Minister Colin Thatcher was charged with causing the death on January 21, 1983 of his ex-wife JoAnn McKay Wilson and thus first-degree murder. Key issues were his alibi, whether he “done it” himself or hired someone else, and whether it was planned. In 1984 he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. In 2006 he was released on parole, returned home, remarried, and wrote a rebuttal: Final Appeal: Anatomy of a Frame.

R. v. Latimer: Wilkie farmer Robert Latimer put his severely handicapped daughter Tracy out of her misery by carbon monoxide poisoning. He considered it a compassionate act because Tracy suffered from cerebral palsy and frequent seizures, had only a baby’s mental capacity, and endured constant pain. His trial and ten-year prison sentence for murder led to a public debate over euthanasia, and polarized opinion about its legal and moral implications.

Rathwell v. Rathwell: Two watershed cases in matrimonial property — as to whether a divorced woman could claim part of her ex’s property — were the Irene Murdoch case in Alberta (1973, which she lost) and the Helen Rathwell case in Saskatchewan (1978, which she won because she had helped buy the ranch). Feminists jumped into the fray and insisted that a wife’s work entitled her to share the fruits of a family business. The upshot: changes made to family property laws across Canada. 

R. v. Threinen: When four young children disappeared in Saskatoon in June 1975, many parents kept their kids at home, waiting for the serial killer to be found. When police finally tracked down David Threinen, he led them to the bodies of the children he had strangled and dumped out of town. He was convicted of murder. In 2000, he told a parole board he did not want to be released from prison.

R. v. Hoffman: Mass murderer Victor Hoffman was a schizophrenic just released from psychiatric hospital in August 1967 when he entered a farmhouse near Shell Lake with a rifle. Spurred by “voices in his head” he shot James and Evelyn Peterson and seven of their children, some of them sleeping. Only four-year-old Phyllis and a married sister Kathy survived the massacre. He was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to a mental institution. 

R. v. McCallum. Frederick Moses McCallum was arrested in 1969 for the ax murder of seven members of the Pederson family at Buffalo Narrows but McCallum was found “not guilty by reason of insanity.” One Pederson son survived an axe blow, but was severely traumatized, and got into trouble later. He died after walking in front of a car.

Fraud scheme: Party scandals in the 1990s involved Grant Devine’s Progressive Conservative government implicating sixteen MLAs. “Twelve members of Devine’s government — defeated in 1991 after nine years in power — were charged for a scheme that defrauded taxpayers of more than $837,000.” At least “six were convicted and three others acquitted.”

Stranger than fiction: The birth of a baby in a toilet at a Walmart in Prince Albert in May 2007 sparked headlines. The young mom was charged with abandoning the baby, but she testified she didn’t know she was pregnant. She left the store thinking the baby was dead, but a store manager scooped up the infant, and it survived. The mom was judged not guilty, and this decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. 

R v. Stanley. Racial tensions erupted over a Battleford trial verdict that acquitted Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder in the death of Cree youth Colten Boushie on Stanley’s farm in 2016. Stanley apparently believed the four young people from the nearby Red Pheasant Reserve were trying to steal a vehicle on his farm, and said his gun had gone off accidentally. Boushie’s witnesses claimed they were seeking help to fix their disabled vehicle. The case became a hot-button issue because the jury was all-white.

[Wolfers: McCourt, Saskatchewan, 76-7. Louis Riel: Canadian Encyclopedia; Race in restaurants: Dederick & Waiser, Looking Back; 39-41. Latimer: Canadian Encyclopedia. Fraud: Hurtig’s Canadian Encyclopedia. Others: website CanLII, news reports]

Crimes of passion and shame

Love and murder in Saskatchewan

A number of violent crimes ca. 1920 were committed by eastern European immigrants, perhaps acting on impulses tolerated in their home countries. (Others were committed by Brits.) It seems some immigrant juries based their decisions on unwritten laws of their homelands, and not on Canadian laws. One study contends that the Saskatchewan Provincial Police believed that, given language problems, they could only teach immigrants Canadian law by enforcing our laws.

Sam Kowalski from Claytonville was found dead in a sleigh December 16, 1920 near Prince Albert, and was assumed to have frozen to death. An alert SPP officer, R.R Scotney, suspected foul play. Further sleuthing revealed that Kowalski had died from a blow to the head. It turned out his buddy Steve Zurakowski had been dallying with Kowalski’s wife, and Kowalski objected. Zurakowski was convicted and sentenced to eighteen years in the P.A. pen.

A serial killer crazed by hatred of women provoked an international manhunt that spread to southern Saskatchewan in the 1920s. Earle Leonard Nelson of San Francisco, aka The Gorilla Man and The Strangler, had gone on a massive killing spree that included two Canadian women. After eluding the SPP, he was finally caught in Manitoba and executed.

A complicated case involving arson and the death of five members of the Manchur family and their hired man at Wakaw in 1916 was one of the province’s “ugliest.” It involved an alleged liaison between the hired man John Mychaluk and Paulina Manchur, estranged from her husband Mike Syroshka. Although most of the victims had been shot, Syroshka was found guilty only of arson.

Axe murderer John Morrison, a “Barnardo boy” from England. was a hired hand on Alex McArthur’s homestead fourteen miles from Welwyn, near Moosomin, where he fell in love with the farmer’s daughter. When McArthur nixed the liaison, in June 1900 Morrison went on a nocturnal rampage, attacking the family and killing five of them. Three children survived, including the object of his desire. The tragedy made headlines for days.

Arnold Gart was killed in 1919 when John Bronch from Radisson severed an artery in his victim’s neck with a knife, incensed by Gart’s “undue familiarity” with Bronch’s wife. Bronch was tried at King’s Bench court in Battleford in 1921. Much to the astonishment of the Radisson community, the jury acquitted Bronch.

A married farmer in the Lucky Lake area knocked up his neighbour’s teen-aged daughter in 1920. After they attempted an abortion with linseed oil, the baby was stillborn. The married farmer got four years of hard labour for his sins, interesting because he had already served twelve months for a similar misdemeanor.

Infamous Mountie Sgt. John Wilson came to Canada, leaving behind a wife and children in Britain. His love affair with Jessie Patterson of Blaine Lake led him in 1918 to kill his wife, when she arrived in Canada, so he could wed Jessie. He was hung for his crime.  Lois Simmie’s book The Secret Lives of Sergeant Wilson was, and still is, a bestseller.

After the wife of Isaiah Mitchell of Shell Lake took up residence with a man named Armstrong, the enraged Mitchell shot his wife’s paramour. He confessed to Armstrong’s murder near Fort Pitt, was tried at Battleford in 1921 and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

[Most references are in Stewart & Hudson, Mahony’s Minute Men: 34-35, 68-70, 72-73, 75-76, 81-82, 87-94, 97-94. Other references: Bronch: Lin, Policing the Wild North-West: A Sociological Study, 100; Sask. Archives, SPP returns, October 1919; King’s Bench Court, Docket 11, 1921.  Mitchell: Sask. Archives: SPP returns June 1921; KB court docket 28, 1921. Morrison: Dederich, 68-70; Winnipeg Tribune, June 9 and 11, 1900; Moosomin World 14 June 1900. Immigrants: Lin, 100. Syroshka: Downs, (ed.), The Law and the Lawless. Zurakowski: SPP records Februrary 1921, SAB]

Cold cases

Candles in memory of family passed away (stock photo)

Murdered and missing victims whose killers were never identified

The oldest such case in Canada involves an unidentified woman (discovered during excavation in 2006) whose body had been stuffed in a wooden barrel and down a well in Sutherland (now part of Saskatoon).  Forensic study indicated she was Caucasian and between twenty-five to thirty-five years old. Her clothes were 1910 to 1920 vintage. 

Charles H. Baxter, Hawarden district, aged thirty-one, left to seek work in July, 1939 and was not seen again.

Alvin C. Berg, thirty-five, of Pierceland, was last seen in October, 1940, when he left the farm near Maymont where he had been employed.

Margaret Blackbird, a twenty-one-year-old mother, left her husband and two young children on their family farm near Loon Lake in the summer of 1951 and has not been seen since.

Tersilla Bonthoux, a seventy-nine-year-old woman, left Duck Lake on October 25, 1954 to walk about eight miles to the farm where she lived, and was never seen again.

The girl in Saskatoon - Book cover
The Girl in Saskatoon, book abut the Wiwcharuk murder

The battered body of Alexandra Wiwcharuk, a twenty-three-year-old nurse, was found in a shallow grave on the west bank of the river in Saskatoon on May 31, 1962. The case was the subject of a nonfiction book by Sharon Butala.

René Bruneau, aged twenty-four, of Leoville was last seen June 27, 1965, at the Saskatchewan Hospital at Battleford.

Caroline Burns, a fifty-two-year-old woman of Aboriginal descent, was last seen leaving her residence in the small settlement of Molanasa Molanosa (south of Lac La Ronge) on Jan. 2, 1973.

The badly-beaten body of Cindy Blazik, a twenty-three-year-old school teacher, was found in a burning teacherage on the Onion Lake First Nation on December 7, 1986.

Emerson Dobroskay of Saskatoon, aged twenty-one, was last seen on the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia on Oct. 28,1988.

Ernestine Kasyon, a tenty-six-year-old aboriginal woman, was last seen in Prince Albert on Dec. 6, 1989. An unconfirmed report says her skull was found six years later on the Black Lake First Nation.

Tamra Keepness, a five-year old girl, originally from the Whitewood First Nation, was last seen in her Regina home on the evening of July 5, 2004.

Melanie Dawn Geddes, a twenty-four-year-old mother of three children, was last seen in Regina on Aug. 13, 2005. Her remains were found Dec. 20, 2005 in a field near Southey 

[Canada’s Missing Persons, and Unsolved]

Shady business

Scoundrels and scallywags

The Midland Provisional Battalion (Midlanders) during the North-West Resistance made themselves highly unpopular by pilfering packages meant for other units. They compounded their sins by stealing fresh pies. 

The infamous James Gaddy and Moise Racette teamed up in Stony Mountain Penitentiary. When they got out, for a lark, they had their photos snapped at an itinerant tent studio in Qu’Appelle. To augment their finances, they stole some horses to sell them. The owner of one of the horses, a neighbour and a NWMP sergeant formed a posse to catch the ne’er-do-wells. At Racette’s home a melέe ensued. Gaddy grabbed a fallen revolver and shot McLeish, the horse’s owner, and shot him three times; McLeish died soon afterwards. Now the law was really after the errant pair. Eventually the NWMP recognized them from their photos and arrested them. They were convicted and died by hanging on June 13, 1888.

James and Melissa Sharpe, members of the Adamite religious sect, originally from Missouri, already had a shady past when they came to Saskatchewan on a strange utopian mission, but after the Doukhobors rebuffed them, they left. They came to a violent end in a Kansas shootout.  

Babe Belanger was charged with bribery when she offered a Saskatoon cop a monthly bribe if allowed to open her bawdy house in the city. But she was acquitted when she claimed she was only joking.

“Diamond” Jim Brady, henchman of Al Capone, was a known gambler, rum-runner and the number one bootlegger in Moose Jaw just after World War I. He died of gunshot wounds soon after returning to Chicago in 1920. 

Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen, once a rascally habitué of Saskatoon’s early gambling dens, and a bit of a pickpocket, ended up in China as bodyguard to the revered Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

In pre-World-War-I Moose Jaw, Rosie Dale ran a brothel frequented by some five hundred railroad workers. When forced out by city authorities, she simply skedaddled outside city limits.

Charlie Parmer
Charlie Parmer, Dundurn farmer – a questionable past..

Charlie Parmer, a disreputable Dundurn farmer, claimed to have taken part in bank robberies with the Jesse Games gang before escaping to Canada from the American draft. (His claims are scoffed at.) But there was something dodgy about him, for in Dundurn he used his formidable collection of firearms to ward off intruders.

Former hockey coach Graham James created a tempest in the 1980s when he was charged and convicted for molesting a junior hockey player. After multiple accusations of sexual abuse, he was in and out of jail for years, and was finally released on full parole in 2016.

Rosie Dale: Gray, Red Lights on the Prairie. Gaddy and Racette: Anderson, Hanging in Canada, reprinted in The Law and the Lawless, 100-105. Jim Brady: www. Midlanders: Lt. C.S. Cassels’ diary, cited in Tolton, Prairie Warships, 172. Parmer: Millar, Saskatchewan Heroes & Rogues. Sharpe:; Macdonald, Cloud-capped Towers. Belanger: Gray, Red Lights on the Prairies; ]

“Low-down varmints”

Bandits & rustlers & downright villains

James Gaddy and Moise Racette, notorious horse thieves in the Saskatchewan district, were convicted of killing a NWMP constable during a shootout and were hung in Regina in 1888.

Americans Sam Kelly, alias Charles “Red” Nelson, and his partner Frank Jones led the infamous Nelson-Jones gang.  They hid out in caves in the Big Muddy badlands down south, and were considered two of the most nefarious, treacherous outlaws ever to afflict the province. In 1904 Kelly gave himself up to a Montana sheriff but was not convicted, for lack of evidence. in pre-World-War-I Moose Jaw.

“Dutch” Henry (Henry Borne) was an American rustler who retreated to Canada to work for rancher Pascal Bonneau in the Wood Mountain area. Reverting to his old ways, he absconded with his boss’s horse to Montana, and was murdered by “a friend” in 1906.

In Webb, a would-be armed robber got away unharmed on the night of June 20, 1920 despite a local “vigilante group” of three (including a cop) who, warned in advance of the planned heist, were waiting for him in the targeted store. He climbed in a back window but a burst of warning shots spooked him, and he quickly scrambled out the window and took off in a getaway Ford.

Moosomin’s “Great Bank Robbery” of 1922 was daring and well planned. The Norman Gang from the U.S. cut telephone wires, and used dynamite to shatter the Union Bank’s glass windows and break into the safe. They got away with $8,000, but were caught, tried and convicted.

Saskatchewan’s only train robber, D.L. Purvis, tied and gagged a CNR express car attendant on February 1, 1923, and cleaned out the safe. He then slipped off the passenger train as it slowed to enter Regina, and disappeared. But a local laundry had placed his initials on the kerchief he used as a gag, and the provincial police tracked him to his address and arrested him two days later.

News accountsof the Robbers Roost operation featured mug shots of some of the rustlers.

The much-married lady rustler of Robbers Roost was said to be the brains behind the gang that stole up to six thousand livestock, Belle Willard (aka Mrs. B.J. Dale aka Mrs. William Kinnick). She ran the ranch near Ravenscrag where the animals were taken to alter their brands. In a sensational Maple Creek trial in November 1924, six trusted locals including Belle were convicted of stealing horses and/or cattle, and all went to jail. 

Saskatoon banks had their exciting moments too. For example, in October 1930 a robber absconded with $3,000 in cash from the west side branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia. On September 7, 1951, armed bandits led police on a merry chase through the Nutana area, after robbing the Royal Bank on Broadway. This time the police caught ‘em.

In early June 16, 1931, three men boldly robbed two Royal Bank employees on a streetcar carrying a satchel of cash from Saskatoon’s main office to the Sutherland branch, then raced south in a blue Nash. The RCMP identified the owner of the Nash, Joe Bowers (a Dundurn farmer), arrested his gang four days later in Calgary and brought them back to the city. The gang pled guilty to armed robberies in Battleford, Rosetown and Saskatoon.

The Ku Klux Klan belong to a different order of n’er-do-wells altogether. This arch-conservative, movement originated in the U.S. and spread like a pestilence across Canada in the 1920s. Their racist ideas took root for a while on Saskatchewan soil, as they marched about in menacing KKK robes carrying burning crosses.

[Henry Borne: Anderson, Outlaws of Saskatchewan. Armed robber: Prairie Memories (Webb, Sask.), 927. Norman gang: Moosomin: Century One: Town and Country, 47. Purvis: Anderson. Robbers Roost: Regina Morning Leader 4 December 1924. Bowers: Anderson, Outlaws of Saskatchewan. Others are from Stewart & Hudson: Mahony’s Minute Men]

The high and the mighty

Chief justices of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal since 1905

This is the highest court in the province

Edward L. Wetmore, 1907-1912. In 1887, he became puisne {lesser] judge of the first Supreme Court of the then NWT, in 1907 was appointed the first chief justice of Saskatchewan and in 1909, first chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan. 

Sir Frederick W.A.G. Haultain, 1912-1938: A British-born lawyer, he was elected to the NWT assembly in 1888, and led demands for responsible government. He was the first premier of the territories 1887-1905, then led the opposition until 1912, when he was named chief justice of the high court, and chancellor of the U of S. He was knighted in 1916.

Justice William F.A. Turgeon, 1938-1941: He also chaired a dozen federal and provincial royal commissions, including one on transportation in 1951, which, despite calls by several provinces for controls on spiralling post-war freight rates, did not call for intervention.

William M. Martin, 1941-1961: He was MP for Regina 1908 to 1916 and premier of this province from 1916 to 1922, when he was appointed to the Court of Appeal. As a premier he was noted for running a scandal-free government.

Emmett M. Hall, 1961-1962: Known as a “father of medicine,” he also chaired the 1964 Royal Commission on National Health Service, which recommended that Canada adopt a universal Medicare system like Saskatchewan’s, and the 1977 Royal Commission on Grain Handling and Transportation, 

Edward M. Culliton, 1962-1981: He was known as a “compassionate” judge who encouraged appeals for criminal convictions. He wrote the 1983 Culliton Report for the Saskatchewan Justice Department, on the need for access-to-information and right-to-privacy laws.

Justice Edward D. Bayda, 1981-2006: He was a commissioner on the 1974 Vancouver Port Grain Handling Inquiry, which pushed for more efficiency and fewer labor disputes that caused shipping delays. He also chaired the 1978 Cluff Lake Board of Inquiry, which predicted effects of stepped-up uranium production.

John Klebuc, 2006-2013: An expert in bankruptcy lawsuits, Chief Justice Klebuc called for speedier procedures to lower civil court costs, and pushed for more accessible courts.

Robert G. Richards, 2013. He served variously as law clerk at the Supreme Court, a parliamentary intern, and as Senator Ray Hnatyshyn’s chief of staff 

[, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Canadian Encyclopedia, Wikipedia]

Policing milestones

Maintaining peace and order in this province

In 1873 the Canadian government created its spectacular force of Mounties, the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) to enforce its laws throughout the vast interior of the country. 

In 1904 the red-coated force was officially renamed the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP), becoming an enduring symbol of Canada’s northwest.

In 1905 our newly formed provincial government contracted with the feds for the RNWMP to enforce both provincial and federal laws.

In 1911 Premier Walter Scott set up a Saskatchewan secret service, the “whisky sniffers” consisting of some seventy plainclothes officers to help the RNWMP enforce his government’s maze of liquor laws. 

In 1916 our government formed its own distinctively uniformed Saskatchewan Provincial Police (SPP) rather than having the RNWMP continue to enforce provincial statues within its jurisdiction. 

In 1927 our government disbanded the SPP, due mostly to rising costs, and contracted the Mounties – renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920 — to again serve as the primary policing agency in this province.

In 1930 our government began hiring mining inspectors, fish and wildlife officers and so on to oversee the natural resources that came under its constitutional control that year. These  evolved into the corps of Conservation Officers who now enforce its related environmental regulations. 

In 1980, the expanded force of traffic officers and vehicle inspectors – operating an increasing number of weigh scales in this province – became the Saskatchewan Highway Transport Patrol.

Since 2000 the RCMP and police forces in this province’s larger centres have been forming “combined forces special enforcement units” and “integrated drug enforcement teams” to coordinate policing of organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.

In 2018, the RCMP, the Highway Transport Patrol and Conservation Officers began forming “protection response teams” to coordinate their surveillance and enforcement work. These teams are expected to improve response times and thus public safety in the rural and northern reaches.  

[Terry Risko; Doug Madill, Highway Transport Patrol, Annual Review, 1980-1981;  StarPhoenix 15 June and 25 August, 2018]

Memorable Mounties

The legendary Sam Steele of Yukon fame first served with the NWMP at Fort Qu’Appelle.  He led a troop of Mounties to accept the surrender of Big Bear’s band in spring 1885.

James Walsh of the NWMP, after whom Fort Walsh was named. Though he befriended Sioux chief Sitting Bull, political factors finally led to their being ousted back to the U.S.   

Leif Crozier, superintendent at Fort Carleton at 1885, one of the NWMP officials involved in treaty negotiations with the Cree. He and his force of Prince Albert Volunteers were defeated at the Battle of Duck Lake.

John Clisby was the lone NWMP constable in Saskatoon in 1896 when he received a wire that a prisoner had escaped from a train at Dundurn. To cross the river, he convinced his horse to stand on a railway handcar while he rolled it and himself across the railway bridge. He got his man. 

Francis Dickens, son of the famous author, was commander at Fort Pitt during the Northwest Rsistance. He was convinced to retreat from the fort and has been villified for it ever since, for the retreat was considered ignoble.

General Sir George Arthur French, a British army officer, was the first commissioner of the North West Mounted Police, from October 1873 to July 1876. Writer Frank Anderson apparently didn’t think much of him.

Henry Morren, RNWMP officer 1911-1919, was said to have dealt with more murders, robbers, gunfights, tornadoes (Regina 1912) and fires during his years in southern Saskatchewan than most twenty-year veterans.

John Leopold, RCMP undercover officer, worked as a Regina housepainter, while infiltrating the Communist Party in the 1920s.

Marcel Chappuis of the RCMP detachment at Cumberland from 1930 to 1945, is said to have covered up to three thousand miles by dogsled on his annual winter patrols. 

Brenda Butterworth-Carr, was the first indigenous woman appointed commanding officer of the RCMP F-Division (Saskatchewan). She was posted here from 2013 to 2018, and then transferred to British Columbia.  

Brenda Lucki, former CO of the Regina RCMP training academy, became the big cheese – appointed permanent woman commissioner of the force, March 2018.

Top cops

Some remarkable police officers in our history

Merle Beck became the first female officer of the Regina police service in 1957.

Martin Bruton, Regina chief of police during the riot of the On-to-Ottawa trekkers in that city July 1, 1935.

Troy Cooperwas the first Metis police officer to serve as chief of the Prince Albert police 2012-2018, then chief of the Saskatoon police on January 17, 2018.

Alex Decoteau, born on the Red Pheasant Reserve, became an Edmonton policeman. But he is best known as an Olympic runner in the 1912 Games. In World War I he joined the 49th Edmonton Regiment, and was killed by a sniper at Paaschendaele in October 1917.  

Constable George Hillock of Yorkton and Sergeant D. Williams of Swift Current, the Saskatchewan Provincial Police (SPP) officers who set the snare in the 1920s that convicted at least six rustlers including Belle Dale/Willard/Kinnick, mastermind of the shady operation centred at her ranch near Ravenscrag.

Ernie Louttit, third indigenous man on the Saskatoon police force, who specialized in working with street people. He wrote two books about his experiences.

Charles Augustus Mahony, chief of Mahoney’s Minute Men. Illustration by Ruth Millar based on photograph.

Charles Augustus Mahoney ( spelled Mahony in the book cited), the controversial chief constable of the Saskatchewan secret service known as the “whiskey sniffers”, 1911 to 1916. Then he became commissioner of the Saskatchewan Provincial Police, the men in the rakish hats who from 1917 to 1928 policed the liquor trade and nabbed criminals, until the RNWMP resumed those roles.

Charles Miller, Regina City Police detective who died after falling from his horse during the Regina Riot, 1935.

Kim Rossmo, first “street cop” in Canada to get a PhD (in criminology). He crafted software for catching criminals using “predictable spatial patterns.” He was with the Vancouver police force for twenty-three years, and later directed the Center for Geospatial Intelligence at Texas State University.

Ex-Mountie Jim Williams was Regina’s first police constable, appointed in 1892. Despite the NWMP presence there, Regina needed a cop for non-Mountie jobs. In addition to normal police duties, he was in charge of licensing and/or inspecting a raft of things, including dog tags, bread, blocked streets, pool rooms, markets and “refreshment houses.” He caught stray animals, and rang the town bell. Most onerous, he was public health inspector without extra pay.

[Hillock: Regina Morning Leader, 4 Dec 1924, Between and Beyond the Benches: 276-77. Riddell, Regina … 32. Drake, Regina: The Queen City, 74-75. Rossmo: Arts & Science Magazine spring 2018: 14-17]