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AUGUST 19

Saskatoon Travel Guide

Saskatoon History



Saskatoon’s founders dreamed of creating a temperance colony in the great North-West. John A. Macdonald’s government, in a hurry to develop the country, was offering large locks of land to colonization companies. Many in Toronto’s Methodist community saw this as a golden opportunity to escape the evils of the liquor traffic.

The settlers arrived on the site of what is now Saskatoon by travelling by railway from Ontario to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. From Moose Jaw to Saskatoon they had to travel by horse-drawn cart as the railway had yet to be completed to Saskatoon. The Temperance Colony was unable to obtain a large block of land within the community and the plan was doomed from the beginning. In 1883 the first streets of Saskatoon were surveyed on the east bank of the river, just above Minnetonka. In spite of this hopeful start, Saskatoon grew slowly. The river was too shallow and too full of shifting sandbars for easy navigation. As well, fear of native hostility caused by reports of the North-West Rebellion in 1885 discouraged settlement.

In 1890 the Qu’Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railway Company bridged the river at Saskatoon and built a line to Prince Albert. A new settlement soon developed on the west side of the river around the railway station. In 1901 when this tiny settlement incorporated as a village, it kept the name of Saskatoon. The name of the original settlement on the east side changed to Nutana. A third settlement, Riversdale, developed west of the railway tracks. In 1906 with the promise of a traffic bridge and other civic improvements, the three settlements amalgamated to form a city. The trickle of immigrants was becoming a flood and Saskatoon became the fastest growing city in Canada.

Although the railroad reached Saskatoon in 1890, there were still only 113 inhabitants at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the next decade, however, there was a sudden influx of European and American settlers and, as the agricultural economy of the prairies expanded, so the city came to be dominated by a group of entrepreneurs nicknamed boomers , under whose management Saskatoon became the economic focus of the region.




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