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One Room Schoolhouse Naming

18 Feb

GTP in blue

One Room Schoolhouse Naming

An article printed in the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper, The Potashville Miner-Journal, “From Bert’s NotebookPlace names, discusses the derivation of the names for schools in the Churchbridge / Langenburg area of Saskatchewan was submitted from the Esterhazy 1939 newspaper by Verna Brenner, which is intriguing and fascinating.

Web master note: Still awaiting permissions from the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper, The Miner-Journal and the family of Bert McKay for re-publication, a small paraphrasing of the article comes next. The following page takes the derivation for the name from the article written by Bert McKay, and further verification of these facts have been found in several other sources as noted in the bibliography.

Before we begin with these selected eleven one room school district names, just a note about the historical naming process of the one room school districts in the province of Saskatchewan. John C. Charyk noted in “Syrup Pails and Gopher Tails” that the naming of the school was left to the local residents in the community. “Today as a result of that policy, knowing how a school district derived its name often brings an insight into the very heart of local history and traditions.”Charyk 1984 p. 12 The procedure of determining the name was set before all the community ratepayers requesting a suitable name. The school District organisers would hold a meeting, and of these names, the committee would submit a list of four or five names. The Department of Education set before the community the request for a list, as very often if only one name were submitted, it may be in use already at another school site. So the final choice for the school district name lay with the Department of Education.

At this same time, a school district number was allotted to the school district by the Department of Education. The numbers began with Moose Jaw School District No. 1 of the North West Territories and kept incrementing to Bow Valley School District No. 1409, North West Territories. At this time, for provisional districts of the Northwest Territories were merged to form the twin provinces of Alberta, and Saskatchewan on September 1, 1905. The Department of Education then decided that to keep record keeping for the two provinces separate in these provincial fledgling years, the province of Alberta would continue numbering her schools from School District No. 1410 onwards, and new schools formed in the province of Saskatchewan would fill up the empty numbers between 1 and 1409 vacated by the province of Alberta and proceeding forward from there. And now to delve into the heritage of the naming of these school districts near Churchbridge and Langenburg, Saskatchewan. (Another note, the Department of Education is now termed the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan.)

  • Chatsworth S.D. No. 1810, (1907) was named after not a place, but a road in the Clapton subdivision of London, England. McKay points out that the school district secretary suggested the name after his previous residential street. Chatsworth road is a market road serving people in the area with a diverse selection of shops and restaurants, including, African, Turkish, Asian and Caribbean produce alongside butchers, bakers and greengrocers according to Wikipedia.
  • Hohenlohe S.D. NO. 2705, (1910) received its appellation from Count Hohenlohe-Langenburg. According to Alan Anderson, the Count Hohenlohe-Langenburg was invited to the west as part of the great immigration scheme by Canadian immigration authorities. The Count, as president of the German Colonial Association was instrumental in encouraging large colonies, notably Colony Hohenlohe which later received the name Langenburg.
  • MacNutt S.D. No. 793, (1912) is next on the list. John Hawkes echoes the sentiments of Bert Mckay, writing of the Honourable Thomas MacNutt, that he was a farmer and stock raiser in the Saltcoats area, and also turned his attentions to the political arena serving the Saltcoats constituency as both Member of the Legislative Assembly and Member of Parliament. MacNutt is renowned for being the first Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislature.
  • Zorn S.D. No. 3697, (1916) received its calling from Phillip Zorn, a school district administrator actively promoting school district organisation during the formative year, 1916. From the Western Land Grants Records, it can be seen that Fillipp Zorn was successful at proving up a homestead land grant on the Northwest quarter of section 34 township 23 range 30 West of the 1st Meridian.
  • Landestrew S.D. No. 2698, (1916) was named after Landestreu, Galicia by the immigrant Galician German settlers who arrived in this new land. According to Manfred Prokop, Professor of German (emeritus), Modern Languages and Cultural Studies they established the large colony named Hoffnungstal near Langenburg and Landstrew in the late 1800s. The Landestrew post office opened in 1892, the school not until 1916.
  • Dressler S.D. No. 3732, (1916) located on the north east quarter of section 5, township 23, range 31, west of the first meridian was located amidst the Dressler homesteaders. Daniel DRESSLER and Anna BUSCH arrived to the Langenburg area about 1890. Daniel began proving up the land on the south east quarter of section 18 of the same township mentioned above. They had ten children and their sons Frederick, Andrew, John also homesteaded the area. Daniel DRESSLER immigrated with four siblings from Galicia, and this area was home to a number of DRESSLER homesteads. According to LAC Western Land Grants, Section 5 was Canadian Pacific Railway Land. A portion of this land was donated by Frederick DRESSLER to the community on which to build the Dressler Schoolhouse reported Bill Barry.
  • Churchbridge S.D. No. 124, (1887) honours the Anglican Church Colonization Land Company administered by Mr. Church and Reverend Bridges, who purchased land for settlement in the township 22 range 32, west of the 1st meridian. In Ruth Swanson’s compilation, The first hundred years : around Churchbridge, 1880-1980, settlers also remember a Mr. Eden belonging to this English Colonization Company as well, and a preliminary name being Edenbridge which was changed to Churchbridge due to a conflict with Edenbridge, Manitoba.
  • Rothbury S.D. No. 204 (1891) recognizes the town of Rothbury in Northumberland, England. Robert Athey suggested the title at a school district meeting. The land around the Rothbury school district is characterized by rolling and open prairie. Rothbury, Northumberland is nestled within the Simonside and Cheviot Hills.
  • Goehring S.D. 910, (1903) has as its namesake an early trustee, Ludwig Goehring a school district trustee. Goehring successfully proved up on three quarter sections in the area.
  • Kensington Lake S.D. No. 1083, (1904) assumed its name from the nearby physical feature, Kensington Lake. McKay mentions that Kensington Lake, in turn, assumed its name from E.D. Kensington who farmed near the lake.
  • Flower Valley S.D. No. 1098, (1904) derived its name from the German word “Blummenthal” which translated means Flower Valley. McKay points out that George Haas suggested the German term, and Niel McFadyen put forward the English translation. Mrs. Louise (George) Haas recalls that the school district was situated upon the old Pelly Trail

Webmaster note: The newspaper article recorded Chatsworth S.D. as number 1771, however other sources provide the school with the name of Homeland as School District No. 1771, and Chatsworth School District as No. 1810. The spelling was provided as Landstrew S.D. 2698 in the newspaper article, however other sources gave it as Landestrew S.D. No. 3698, And Budweis School District received the S.D. number of 2698. If anyone else has further information or clarification on any of these schools, school districts or Bert McKay, it would be a pleasure to add the same notes as provided. Kind Regards Julia Adamson.


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Bert McKay of Moosomin, SK

17 Feb

Sunrise Miracle ~ Digital Painting

Bert McKay of Moosomin

  • “A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living”
    Rudolf Steiner

Publishing a story in The Miner-Journal,  Placenames, Bert McKay delves into the tale of the origins of eleven school districts of Saskatchewan in his column “From Bert’s Notebook” in the year 1939. Bert McKay, was very active in the publishing realm, being “editor and publisher of the Moosomin World-Spectator, The Wapella Post, Esterhazy Miner, Langenburg Journal and Maryfield News.” McKay served also as the president of the Prairie Publishers Co-operative in 1962.

  • “A newspaper is the center of a community, it’s one of the tent poles of the community, and that’s not going to be replaced by Web sites and blogs.”
    Michael Connelly

It was in August of 1971, that McKay of Moosomin, president of McKay Publications, merged the Langenburg Journal with the Esterhazy Miner to develop a weekly newspaper known as the Potashville Miner serving Esterhazy, Langenburg and Churchbridge areas of Saskatchewan. Although The Esterhazy Miner had been sold in 1965, it had been acquired again by McKay publishing for the merger. It is interesting to note that the Esterhazy Miner began publication in 1907 under the name of the Esterhazy and Pheasant Hills Observer under Arthur Ford. It was under Bert McKay’s ownership in 1952, that the name of the weekly newspaper was changed from the Esterhazy Observer to the Esterhazy Miner.

  • “A world community can only exist with world communication, which means something more than extensive software facilities scattered about he globe. It means common understanding, a common tradition, common idea’s and common ideals.”
    Robert M. Hutchins

McKay was the publisher of the Langenburg Journal since 1956, and in 1960 took over publication of the Wapella Post operating out of Moosomin, SK. The Moosomin World-Spectator, The Esterhazy Miner, The Wapella Post, The Langenburg Journal and The Maryfield News were weekly newspapers published by McKay Publications. In 1972, Mr. and Mrs. McKay sold The Moosomin World-Spectator to John C. Meen of Moosomin, the previous editor. McKay had been part owner of the Moosomin World-Spectator since 1936, and became the sole owner five years later. As well, The Potashville Miner-Journal was sold to Robert (Bob) Koskie of Fleming Saskatchewan.

It was in the Jubilee year, 1955. that Phil Flude of the Indian Head News and Bert McKay attested to being the province’s oldest newspaper. Both newspapers began publication in October of 1884. The Moosomin weekly newspaper first started publication in 1884, making it the oldest provincial newspaper in continuous publication.

  • “To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills – you learn to listen, you learn to take notes – everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world.”
    Carl Hiaasen

The private library collection of McKay was consulted by Kenneth Bagnell when researching The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came To Canada.Besides being consulted, McKay, in his own right, authored books himself; Tennyson at Moosomin 1883-1899 reached the book shelves in 1976; History of Moosomin United (Methodist) Church, 1889-1929, c1975; The “Peanut”
Reston-Wolseley C. P. R., 1906-1961
in 1976 Moosomin and the Mounted: A History of the Force at Moosomin 1882 to 1973 was published in 1974 researching through archival materials at the provincial archives, as well as the newspapers of McKay Publications.

McKay, active in community work was also president of the citizen’s organization, Keep Our Doctors, ; secretary Moosomin Agricultural Society; secretary of the Moosomin-Pipestone Lake Resort authority and director of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. McKay pointed out that the KOD committee was acting as a support group for information and inquiries regarding the dispute between the province and doctors in light of the proposed compulsory medical care plan of 1962. McKay felt that, “in a measure we have lost the battle,” as physicians were seeking practice outside of the province. McKay, was a proud supporter of the potash industry, Saskatchewan communities and local needs. In 1973 McKay was present at the dedication ceremony for the Rocanville 23 foot high oil can by the Chamber of Commerce who paid tribute to Ernie Symon’s efforts as “Rocanville’s Oil King.”

  • “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself”.
    Arthur Miller

The community newspapers represent the lifeblood of the community. McKay was known for saying that one may find flyers in the garbage pail, but not the community newspaper which was relevant, and always read.

  • “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
    Cesar Chavez

Further Information:

One Room Schoolhouse Project

Newspaper and Magazine Resources. Saskatchewan Gen Web Project

Bibliography for this article


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Steamships “All aboard!” on the Saskatchewan

9 Dec

Shine a little light on your path

Steamships “All aboard!” on the Saskatchewan

  • [Aboard ships]:…the world is far, far away; it has ceased to exist for you–seemed a fading dream, along in the first days; has dissolved to an unreality now; it is gone from your mind with all its businesses and ambitions, its prosperities and disasters, its exultations and despairs, its joys and griefs and cares and worries. They are no concern of yours any more; they have gone out of your life; they are a storm which has passed and left a deep calm behind. ~Mark Twain

Before the advent of railways or roadways, conveyance along the waterways was a welcome alternative to traversing prairie trails on squeaky Red River Carts pulled by oxen or on prairie schooners behind a team of horses. Journey across such Red River Cart trails was difficult, there were streams and rivers to cross without bridges, and often times without ferry crossings. Carts would get bogged down in mud, and passengers eaten by mosquitoes.

The steamship era lasted about fifty years spanning the years between 1871-1918. Early pioneers relied upon these paddlewheelers, these steamers, to transport trade goods and make passenger trips before the rail lines were established. Commercial trade opened up, the steamboat supplemented by stage coach, dog train and ox cart.

River boats in the prairies were flat bottomed, and wide. A stern wheel was driven with boiler and engines fitted on the deck. Upstairs, boasted the salon, engine room and private staterooms or cabins, perhaps a ballroom or saloon deck. Atop these levels was the wheelhouse from which the pilot steered the craft. These sternwheelers were essentially a motorized raft designed to float across the surface of the water, and able to navigate shallow waters.

  • She was a grand affair. When I stood in her pilot-house I was so far above the water that I seemed perched on a mountain; and her decks stretched so far away, fore and aft, below me, that I wondered how I could ever have considered the little “Paul Jones” a large craft. There were other differences, too. The “Paul Jones‘s pilot-house was a cheap, dingy, battered rattle-trap, cramped for room: but here was a sumptuous glass temple; room enough to have a dance in; showy red and gold window-curtains; an imposing sofa; leather cushions and a back to the high bench where visiting pilots sit, to spin yarns and ‘look at the river;’ bright, fanciful ‘cuspadores’ instead of a broad wooden box filled with sawdust; nice new oil-cloth on the floor; a hospitable big stove for winter; a wheel as high as my head, costly with inlaid work; a wire tiller-rope; bright brass knobs for the bells; and a tidy, white-aproned, black ‘texas-tender,’ to bring up tarts and ices and coffee during mid-watch, day and night. Now this was ‘something like,’ and so I began to take heart once more to believe that piloting was a romantic sort of occupation after all.~Mark Twain

Gordon Errett Tolton in Prairie Warships: River Navigation in the Northwest Rebellion states that steam powered paddlewheelers came to the Red River in the 1860s, and soon the Hudson Bay Company were using steamboats across the North and South Saskatchewan River waterways. Theodore Barris, the esteemed steamboat historian and author of Fire Canoe : Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited , noted that the Cree called the steamships, “Kuska pahtew oosi”, the “Fire Canoe“, the title also of Anthony Dalton’s book Fire Canoes: Steamboats on Great Canadian Rivers

It was in 1874, that the riverboat successfully joined the ranks of canoe, Metis freighter, bullboat, flat bottomed scows and York boats along the inland water routes. Settlers relied upon the steamers to transport coal to heat their schools, homes and business ventures. Timber was hauled for construction as immigrants finding their way to the “Last Best West” needed building materials, household goods, and agricultural supplies. Grain was freighted to market by steamboat and flatboats or scows. Along the way, the steamers offered stopping points for passengers.

  • The moment we were under way I began to prowl about the great steamer and fill myself with joy. She was as clean and as dainty as a drawing-room; when I looked down her long, gilded saloon, it was like gazing through a splendid tunnel; she had an oil-picture, by some gifted sign-painter, on every stateroom door; she glittered with no end of prism-fringed chandeliers; the clerk’s office was elegant, the bar was marvelous, and the bar-keeper had been barbered and upholstered at incredible cost. The boiler deck (i.e. the second story of the boat, so to speak) was as spacious as a church, it seemed to me; so with the forecastle; and there was no pitiful handful of deckhands, firemen, and roustabouts down there, but a whole battalion of men. The fires were fiercely glaring from a long row of furnaces, and over them were eight huge boilers! This was unutterable pomp. The mighty engines–but enough of this. I had never felt so fine before. And when I found that the regiment of natty servants respectfully ‘sir’d’ me, my satisfaction was complete.~Mark Twain

The “S.S. Northcote” built at a cost of $53,000 was launched August 1, 1874. The namesake of the previous Hudson Bay Comapny’s governor, Sir Stafford Henry Northcote (later known as the Earl of Iddelseigh) who fought for Hudson Bay Company to implement steamboats on the inland rivers and lakes of Manitoba and through the Northwest Territories. The “Northcote” was capable of carrying 150 tons drawing 3.5 feet (1.1 m) of water fully loaded. Her first trip carried mail and supplies for the North West Mounted Police detachment with Bob Louden as one of the pilots. “The “Northcote” made her first run this spring from above the Grand Rapids to Fort Edmonton and return, with a full cargo both ways in 30 days, a full river distance of 2,500 miles (4023.4km),” reported Thomas Dowse, “This I presume was only daylight running.”

Captain Francois “Frank” Aymond piloted the “Northcote” to The Pas with Joseph Favell as pilot, and continued to Fort Carlton on her inaugural journey in the summer of 1874. The press regaled this event thus, “the steamboat just launched on the Saskatchewan is the forerunner of a great fleet of steam craft which is hereafter to navigate this long line of waterways”. Aymond piloted her again in the summer of 1875 completing the trip to Fort Edmonton upstream from Grand Rapids in eighteen days. The return journey, downstream was successful in three days.

Settlements sprung up along the North Branch, Fort Saskatchewan Royal North West Mounted Police post, Battleford and Prince Albert and the “Northcote” was a common site between May and September. James Griggs commanded the “Northcote” in 1877.

These river boats followed in the tradition of the sternwheelers used on the Mississippi River since 1812, on the Missouri River as early as 1819, and the Red River in 1859. Huge loads could be freighted along these large riverways. After steamboats opened the Saskatchewan, fur trade routes were altered, and it was not long before the Athabasca River, Mackenzie River and Peace River to the far north opened to steamship travel as well. Rudy Wiebe notes that “during the summer of 1874, the Plains Cree began to comprehend what a mass of Whites was pouring in upon them. Police troops, surveyors for railroad and telegraph lines, land speculators, settlers trekking their carts along the Carlton Trail from Red River to Pitt and Victoria and Edmonton. The first sternwheeler steamer…filled with passengers and three hundred cartloads of Company freight.”

  • It was regarded as the highest
    achievement of mortal conception to be a steamboat pilot, with
    the exception, perhaps, of being a steamboat captain.” ~ George C. Nichols, an ancient river mariner

Steamer captains from the United States were enlisted to navigate the Saskatchewan with her new steamers. Captain John Scribner Segers (July 3, 1832- April 15, 1909) was one of these riverboat captains fresh off the Mississippi River. “He had a passionate fondness of adventure and a knack of getting into and, more important, getting out of the most impossible situations,” recounts D.J. Comfort, “He had to be one of the more colorful of riverboat captains and tested the waters of more rivers than many would sail in a lifetime.” In 1883, he piloted the “Lily” coursing down the Saskatchewan for the first time. He received his Masters Certificate, Passenger Steamers in the summer of 1901.

  • When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained. ~Mark Twain

Thus, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Swift Current became port towns linked to Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. “It was customary in those steamboat days for young and old, male and female, in every town along the river, at the deep baying sound of the first whistle to gather at the levee to welcome the first boat,” wrote Thomas Hughes, “to the lonely pioneer, the vigils of a long winter in the wilderness were trying, and the arrival of the first boat was an important event in his life, when he heard from his childhood home and the outside world, and when his exhausted larder would be replenished .”

  • Do you know what it means to be a boy on the banks of the [river] to see the steamboats go up and down the river, and never to have had a ride on one? Can you form any conception of what that really means? ~Mark Twain

The eastern portion of the water route ends at the Grand Rapids, a canyon in Manitoba, where the river drops 75 feet (24 m) along a length of two miles (5 km). This is where the Hudson Bay Company built an inland port and warehouses to connect the lake systems of Manitoba to the river system of the Northwest Territories (later the province of Saskatchewan). A short 3.5 miles (5.6 km) railline, a rail portage, was constructed during 1877 to help portage the steamers from Lake Winnipeg across the Grand Rapids canyon to the Saskatchewan River. This tramway first proposed in 1859 by Simon James Dawson, civil engineer with the Hind Expedition was the first rail of the north west plains.

And where the North branch meets the South branch of the Saskatchewan, the steamers must ply Cole’s Falls, a canyon near Prince Albert 13 miles (20.9 km) in length. Along the North branch, the most common route was (upstream) from Lake Winnipeg to the Forks west of Prince Albert and onwards to Edmonton and back. Steamers which travel the length of the North branch between Prince Albert and Brazeau can only draw less than 22 inches (55.88 cm) of water.

Thomas Dowse explains that, The river as its name implies, viz: “Rapid Running River,” is not to be compared with that of the Mississippi or Red Rivers….the Saskatchewan from Edmonton to Lake Winnipeg, 1,200 miles (1931.2km) by river the fall is 1,783 feet (543.5 m), or three times the rapidity of the Mississippi or Red River currents….This river is one stream for some 450 miles (724.20km) before it divides into its two branches.”

The South Branch leaves Chesterfield House near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and flows past Saskatchewan Landing, a small prairie port of call. Swift Current became a growing city at the junction of river, Battleford Trail and railway. The South continues to wind its way past Elbow, Moose Woods near the future site of Saskatoon. The river continues on to the ferry crossing established by Jean-Baptiste (Xavier) Letendre, the site later known as Batoche.

  • I entered upon the small enterprise of ‘learning’ twelve or thirteen hundred miles of the great … River with the easy confidence of my time of life. If I had really known what I was about to require of my faculties, I should not have had the courage to begin. I supposed that all a pilot had to do was to keep his boat in the river, and I did not consider that that could be much of a trick, since it was so wide.~ Mark Twain

The Steamboat “Lily” traveled the North Saskatchewan on regular trips between 1878 to 1883. Built in Glasgow, Scotland in the Yarrow and Company shipyards, she was purchased by Chief Commissioner James A. Grahame of the Hudson’s Bay Company for 4010 pounds. After a long voyage, the steamer Colville brought the pre-fabricated parts along the Red River as far as the Grand Rapids. Construction began here in 1878, and the newly resurrected Steamboat “Lily” overwintered at Fort Carlton. Governor General Lord Dufferin christened her at Grand Rapids. The “Lily” came equipped with a steel hull which was faster than other sternwheelers, she sat lower in the water and damaged easily against boulders lying in wait along the shallow river bottom. It was in the winter of 1880-1881 that whe was renovated with oak panelling along her bottom as a protection against rocks.

  • Your true pilot cares nothing about anything on earth but the river, and his pride in his occupation surpasses the pride of kings.” ~ Mark Twain

Traveling between Winnipeg and Edmonton, Steam boats at full tonnage were able to convey in one month the equivalent of 150 to 200 ox carts over an entire summer. Steamers were capital intensive compared to ox carts of the fur trade route which were labour intensive. This practice was not only cost effective, but speeded up the turn-around time to ship goods. Lewis H. Thomas writes of what changes the new technology demanded ~ “steam boats in place of boat brigades, flat boats, or canoes; railroads in place of Red River carts and pack ponies; packing plants in place of family butchering and processing plains provisions; and ranching in place of the buffalo hunt.” Longer voyages, rising costs, dwindling labour force and an uncertain European market for furs forced the Hudson Bay Company to change their operating methods. It was considered that the “enormous expanse of grass and parklands of the Northwest was idle and unproductive…a blot upon our civilization.’ as The Globe” would have it. “Man was master over nature…this mastery implied domination and exploitation” coinciding “with the steam phase of the industrial revolution”.

The “Northcote” turned its attention to passenger traffic, renovated to carry as many as 50 passengers along the river route. Freight was shipped competitively with Metis freighters, the HBC charged $6.25 per hundredweight, versus $8.50 and upwards by the cartsmen. However, the HBC received as much as $70 per passenger.

During the week, steamers were great work horses, transforming into excursion boats on the weekend for vacation holidays. Grand pianos and dance floors set out providing a festive treat for passengers willing to pay $35 a day. Such was the sheer grandeur, scale and opulence of the steam ships, that on September 27, 1881, the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne was treated to a lavish early morning reception aboard the “Northcote” before sailing away on board the “Lily” that afternoon.

  • The growth of courage in the pilot-house is steady all the time, but it does not reach a high and satisfactory condition until some time after the young pilot has been “standing his own watch” alone and under the staggering weight of all the responsibilities connected with the position. When the apprentice has become pretty thoroughly acquainted with the river, he goes clattering along so fearlessly with his steamboat, night or day, that he presently begins to imagine that it is his courage that animates him; but the first time the pilot steps out and leaves him to his own devices he finds out it was the other man’s. He discovers that the article has been left out of his own cargo altogether. The whole river is bristling with exigencies in a moment; he is not prepared for them; he does not know how to meet them; all his knowledge forsakes him; and within fifteen minutes he is as white as a sheet and scared almost to death. Therefore pilots wisely train these cubs by various strategic tricks to look danger in the face a little more calmly.
    – Mark Twain

Cheyenne“, “Alpha“, “Minnesota” and “Manitoba” were set upon the Saskatchewan Rivers in 1879 by Winnipeg and Western Transportation Company (W&WTC). The “Minnesota” was re-christened the “City of Winnipeg” over the winter months of 1880-1881 and completely re-built. Captain James Sheets at the wheel of the “City” and pilot Robinson sitting at the “Princess” were contracted to tow the “City of Winnipeg” across Lake Winnipeg to Grand Rapids. The newly retrofitted “City” was caught by storms and dashed to pieces. The Winnipeg Free Press wrote, “Had the “S.S. City of Winnipeg” been content to cruise in safe waters and not let her grandeur govern her head, she might have had many years of usefulness on the Red River of the North.” Her sister ship, the “S.S. Manitoba” was also constructed in 1875 by the Merchants International Steamboat Line in Moorhead, North Dakota. “The “Northcote” now sailed under steamboat captain Jerry Webber in 1881, and the Lily under John “Josie” Smith.

The small “Alpha” made the trip between Fort Ellice to Fort Pelly in 1880. This freighter was mainly used upon the Assiniboine River in Manitoba, though she could carry 30 passengers and nine crew members. Her life was short lived, she was caught up in winter ice and there disintegrated in the fall of 1882.

The “Marquis” arrived upon the mighty Saskatchewan in the summer of 1882 under Captain James Sheets. This ship, the largest on the North Saskatchewan, was again commissioned by the W&WTC working for the Hudson Bay Company. Now there were five ships servicing the Saskatchewan, the “Marquis“, “Northcote“, “North West“, “Manitoba“, and “Lily“. Peter McArthur hauled these huge ships up against the white water at Grand Rapids with winches and manila warps to reach the mouth of the Saskatchewan. Edmonton residents relished this rapid transit. In just ten days passengers arrived in Winnipeg. The “North West” took the first leg to Prince Albert which took five days in low water, and only two days when the water was high. “Lily,” manoeuvred the length between Prince Albert and the Grand Rapids and finally a lake steamer finished the route to Winnipeg. During seasons of low water, the “Lily” with a lighter draught would take the first 500 mile (804.67km) run between Edmonton through to Fort Carlton.

  • I think that much the most enjoyable of all races is a steamboat race; but, next to that, I prefer the gay and joyous mule-rush. Two red–hot steamboats raging along, neck-and-neck, straining every nerve–that is to say, every rivet in the boilers–quaking and shaking and groaning from stem to stern, spouting white steam from the pipes, pouring black smoke from the chimneys, raining down sparks, parting the river into long breaks of hissing foam–this is sport that makes a body’s very liver curl with enjoyment. A horse-race is pretty tame and colorless in comparison.~Mark Twain

The steamships, writes the Winnipeg Free Press, “with their racing and cavorting were the talk of the town”, adventurous, they all sought fame and excitement. “The absolute necessity for every steamboat upon the …
river to maintain its character and reputation against
the willful encroachments and usurpations of any other boat,
was in early days so vital that the racing propensity of a river
steamer has become almost proverbial,” asserted Nichols, “A captain would rather
expose himself to the possibilities of wrecking his boat on an
impediment, or exposing the overtaxed boilers, than allow an
approaching rival to outdistance him. And the pilot was his
right hand in every such encounter.”

Water was the means of travel for the Temperance Colonization Society who settled at Saskatoon. In the spring of 1884, the “May Queen” was piloted by Captain Andrews to Medicine Hat from Saskatoon towing a raft of lumber. However, even though the TCS had high hopes for a fleet of steamers, the “May Queen” could not make it bake upstream as she drew too much water. She was dismantled in Medicine Hat.

  • The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book–a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.”~Mark Twain

1881 rates for shipping goods was 6 and 1/4 cents per pound and shipping was available between Fort Garry, Manitoba through to Edmonton, Alberta. (Winnipeg: Established 1738 as Fort Rouge; renamed 1822 Fort Garry; incorporated in 1873 as the City of Winnipeg.) Passengers availed themselves of the service as well. For $70 between Fort Garry to Edmonton) one could travel as a cabin passenger, and for $35, travel as a deck passenger. A shorter trip say Fort Garry to Grand Rapids would set the passenger back only about $12.00.

The North West Navigation Co. headed by William Robinson and Captain Peter McArthur had the “North West” ready in 1881. She could sleep 80 passengers, carry freight, and was equipped with honeymoon suites and a grand piano on the saloon deck. “On the evening of the 22nd, word was passed about the streets that a steamboat was coming up the Saskatchewan and as it had been rumored for some time that a new boat would shortly ply the river, it was not many minutes before a large crowd had congregated at the landing to ascertain whether it was the Northcote or the new one. The moment the whistle sounded, however all doubts were dispelled, as it was a strange voice that awakened the echoes of the valley of the Saskatchewan,” wrote the Saskatchewan Herald in 1882, “The North-West is a fine large steamer with powerful engines and has plied upon the Manitoba streams and now that the “navigability” of the Rapid River of the North has been demonstrated beyond it, with adventure, she has been transferred to this river and is commanded by that veteran of steamboating, Captain James Sheets, whose name and face have been familiar over the years on the rivers of the North-West.”

  • Throughout the long twelve hundred miles there was never a page that was void of interest, never one that you could leave unread without loss, never one that you would want to skip, thinking you could find higher enjoyment in some other thing. There never was so wonderful a book written by man; never one whose interest was so absorbing, so unflagging, so sparklingly renewed with every reperusal. The passenger who could not read it was charmed with a peculiar sort of faint dimple on its surface (on the rare occasions when he did not overlook it altogether); but to the pilot that was an italicized passage; indeed, it was more than that, it was a legend of the largest capitals, with a string of shouting exclamation points at the end of it, for it meant that a wreck or a rock was buried there that could tear the life out of the strongest vessel that ever floated. It is the faintest and simplest expression the water ever makes, and the most hideous to a pilot’s eye. In truth, the passenger who could not read this book saw nothing but all manner of pretty pictures in it, painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, whereas to the trained eye these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dread-earnest of reading matter

In 1883 Steamboat “Lily” was lost near Medicine Hat, Alberta. And it was here that Elliott Torrance Galt (son of Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt) and Nelson Todd launched the “Baroness” that same year, the namesake of Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, the patroness. The Fort Macleod boatyard gave way to a boatyard near the Coalbanks mine, and used wood from the Porcupine Plains sawmill. The “Alberta“, another coal carrier, christened after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, launched April 15, 1884. The “Minnow” sternwheeler was loaded upon a rail flat car and shipped to Medicine Hat to be used as a tug boat for the “Alberta” and “Baroness“. Similarly, Captain E. Shelton Andrews, purchased the “May Queen” and shipped it by railline to Medicine Hat, in 1884.

Over the years of 1883 and 1884, first Class passengers with overnight cabin were charged $58.00 to travel Winnipeg to Edmonton. $30.00 was the fare for travel on board the deck, and they needed to carry their own bedding. Children over five and under twelve could travel half fare. Meals were an additional 50 cents. Here, though, “first-class passengers on the upper deck enjoyed fine food and wine, those below beans and biscuits with tea.” tells Bill Gallaher. Luggage and freight were sent at $6.00 per hundred weight, however, generally a paid passenger was allocated a one hundred pound allowance for their baggage. Passengers could board at Winnipeg and travel to Grand Rapids aboard a lake steamer. There, passengers, luggage and freight would disembark to continue on aboard the short railway and be transferred to a Saskatchewan River Steamer to proceed thence the rest of the way to Edmonton. The Prince Albert Historical Society relates that such a trip upstream would take about two weeks. If the steamer met with accident or became grounded, passengers would continue on their journey on their own avails.

  • All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it”.~Mark Twain

Seven privately owned sternwheelers became active in the Canadian Government’s steamboat navy in 1885 for the North West Rebellion; The steamers “Northcote“, “Baroness“, “Alberta“, “Minnow“, “Northwest“, “Marquis” who pulled 30 separate scows and barges. Even though by this time, steamwheelers had superceded Red River carts as a mode of successful transportation, the riverboats could not be used over the winter months. When the winter ice broke up in this era, the river would churn up huge blocks of ice upon the river banks, some as high as 20 feet. It takes the spring sun and warm weathers of April and May to turn the meltwaters into a navigation water route. General Middleton had to wait until spring thaw in May, and the optimal time was mid June for successful water route transportation of rations, ammunitions, troops and medical service to the battlefield. Thus in early April he brought his troops overland.

Captain Andrews was charged with piloting supplies to the theatre of war. James Sheets was the Captain and superintendent of the journey. And to Captain Segers who had sailed riverboats for the British Army along the Nile River, fell the task of sailing the converted steamer-gunboat “Northcote” up the Saskatchewan River to provide support for the Canadian Government militia. The Metis had strung a ferry cable across the river which sheared off the stacks, spars, funnels, whistle and masts from the steamer leaving the troops aboard the sternwheeler sitting ducks for the Metis sharpshooters.

The Sternwheeler “Manitoba” was to join the steamships of the Saskatchewan River System, the “Prairie Navy“, to aid Canadian militiamen in the Northwest Rebellion. She got stuck at the Sturgeon River north of Prince Albert, and could not be freed, and in the spring ice break up of April 1885, she was destroyed.

In May of 1885, wounded militiamen were carried aboard the “Northcote” from Batoche to Saskatoon to be treated at field hospitals. And it was May 19 when Louis Riel arrived in Saskatoon aboard the “Northcote” on his final journey to Regina.

The shifting sand bars and shallow rivers plagued the steamers. Charles Salyer Clapp, a private with the Canadian Militia, wrote of the trip between Saskatchewan Landing to Clark’s Crossing, a distance of 200 miles (321.9 km) was not rapid. Two thirds of the trip was spent dislodging the river boat off of sand bars each time it ran aground. To avoid the shifting sand bars, the Northcote” employed two men to sound the depth of the river with poles at the bow of the ship and the bow of the raft. Nonetheless the river did not afford a swift flowing channel wide enough for the river boat, and it faltered upon sand bars two to six times each day. It was no wonder, the “S.S. Northcote” was 150 feet (45.72 m) long, and 28.5 feet (8.7m) across its breadth. Fully loaded. the “Northcote” drew 40 inches of water, and with a light cargo it drew 22 inches (55.88 cm). The steamer had a registered tonnage of 290.63. On this voyage the “Northcote” was fully loaded at a time of low waters. Four companies of the First Provincial Battalion were aboard, along with the Gatling Gun, and hospital staff. The “Midlanders” aboard the steamer left Swift Current April 22 and arrived at Clarke’s Crossing on May 5.

  • Now when I had mastered the language of this water, and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river! I still kept in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; one place along, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the somber shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring.

Both the “Marquis” and the “North West” were grounded for a spell when the Saskatchewan jumped its course at the “Cut off” above Cumberland. The river started to cut a new channel developing into a large marsh plain which joined Cumberland Lake draining the river channel, and flooding the countryside with low waters. The years between 1887 to 1896 were very dry, and the prairies suffered drought conditions which waylaid steamship travel considerably.

Captain Richard Deacon, (September 16, 1849-1935) the first licensed Steam Boat captain on the Saskatchewan river. He built his own steamer in 1887 to haul logs along Shell River to Prince Albert. The steamer “Josie” set sail in the spring of 1888. This steam tug was followed by the “Pathfinder” sidewheeler, and the “Marion” steamer. Besides hauling logs, lime and clay for bricks Deacon, and his Son, Alfred.A. Deacon provided excursions for Sunday Schools and Ladies Aids down the river.

The side-wheeler steamer “Glendevon” met a fiery death August 6, 1891, the cook was lost in the inferno but the rest of the crew escaped. At the time of the fire, this little tug was anchored at the mouth of the Little Saskatchewan.

Horatio Hamilton Ross (1869-February 11, 1925) launched the “Assiniboia” on the South Saskatchewan River. By this time rail lines were handling most of the freight overland, so the paddle steamer became a passenger liner and party cruise boat. “But thus
are the ups and downs of life; it may demand a certain degree
of ability to earn money, but a superior degree of prudence is
requisite to retain it,” posited Nichols, “There are said to be circumstances in
each man’s life, which if taken at the flood will lead on to fortune; but there are also circumstances in every man’s life,
which if taken at the ebb will lead on to poverty.

In 1896, the “North West” was offered for sale, commercial river fair was no longer warranted. She was set out near Edmonton ar Ross Flats where she was worn away by the elements for three long years. The flooding of 1899 brought the “North West” out of her moorings, and she was carried in the roaring current crashing into Edmonton’s Low Level Bridge foundations. “The Greyhound of the Saskatchewan” was lost in the North Saskatchewan River.

The tree line of northern Saskatchewan near Prince Albert and Carrot River provided lumber for lumber, fuel for homes and fodder to feed the steamship boilers. The commerce of the fur trade shifted to the logging industry. Upon selling Rupert’s Land to the Dominion Government, the Hudson’s Bay Company retained its most successful trading posts, one twentieth of the best farmland in the region, and was compensated £300,000 ($1.5 million) for the remainder of the purchase transaction. The HBC shifted from a fur trading company to a land development and sales company.

A fleet of nine river boats served the Prince Albert area, “Alice Mattes“, “City of Prince Albert“, “George V“and “The Alberta“. Between 1906 and 1911, the population of Prince Albert swelled from 3,005 to 6,254 persons. The first rail traffic bridge erected in 1909 was built complete with a revolving span which could sing open to allow steam ships to pass through.

  • I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home. But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river’s face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have looked upon it without rapture, and should have commented upon it, inwardly, after this fashion: “This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody’s steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling ‘boils’ show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there, the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the ‘break’ from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?”~ Mark Twain

The pilot needed to navigate the ever shifting sand bars in the river channel, sail through heat, fogs, high winds and thunderstorms, steer around rapids, rocks, wildlife, fallen trees or sweepers, ice jams in spring and autumn. Sudden floods would beach ships, or may rise and carry away docked ships. Most importantly the pilot needed to feel the travel of the boat itself to be award of changes in current and depth of water. Poles were used to take soundings of the changing water levels calling up to the pilots, the depth in feet. To stabilize the sand bars, a pile was driven down into the river in strategic places to collect sand and allow water channels to remain open.

When a steamer ran aground on shoals, sand bars or muddy river bottom, the “spars” were utilized which were stiff wooden poles set down into the river bottom. A wire cable connected the spars to the derrick and then with a winch at the capstan. When the wire was taught, the boat was lifted up and out of the mud and forward towards the river waters. At the same time the paddewheel would churn sand and water, aiming to propel the ship ahead. Such a navigational feat was referred to as the “grasshopper”.
And at rapids, strong cables were fastened permanently at the shore line which would allow the boat to use its winch to climb up the falls.

In 1890, the railway was constructed joining Prince Albert and Regina. Steamboat service was thus complemented initially with railway shipping points. However, the “flyers” and “fast mails” soon outweighed the pleasant features of steamship travel, and it became tedious and unsatisfactory. “With the advent of the railroads the steamboat trade fell off rapidly.”

The history of steamboating must include the lake steamers on Last Mountain Lake (or Long Lake) which stretches 75 miles (120.7 km) in length shortening the freight run between Saskatoon and Regina. In 1885, the Qu’Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railroad and Steamboat Company, (later bought by the Canadian Pacific Railway), established a short rail line between the city of Regina and Sussex near the south end of Long Lake. (The community of Sussex, Assiniboia, Northwest Territories is now more commonly known as Craven, Saskatchewan.) Grain and freight could be hauled by lake steamer between Valeport and Port Hyman near Sussex at the southern end around the lake, and to the Last Mountain House trading post on the eastern shore. (The northern end was very shallow and has since become the Last Mountain Lake Bird Sanctuary, and Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area) William Pearson, also sailed two steamers along Long Lake providing cruises and passenger service. The Pearson Land Company and the Pearson Steamship Company was instrumental in bringing settlers to the area between 1905 and 1913. McKillop & Benjafield ran a lake steamer bearing their name, and the Pearson Land Company operated the “Lady of the Lake” (“later named Qu’Appelle“, firstly christened Welcome“) The “Qu’Appelle” met her fate in a blaze of glory as part of the World War I victory celebrations, 1918. These pleasure craft established the beginnings of Lake View Park and Cairn’s Point, now popular tourist resorts re-named Saskatchewan Beach and Regina Beach. Other communities also arose, Lumsden, Watertown, McKillop Landing, Arlington Beach, Taylorboro, Sunset Cove and Sundale Resort.

  • Pretty soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale under-side of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was justabout the bluest and blackest–fst! it was as bright as glory, and you’d have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you’d hear the thunder let go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs–where it’s long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know. -Mark Twain

During years with a high water table and during spring run off and flooding, the steamers sailed successfully, lowering their smokestacks to squeeze under bridges. However, Saskatchewan cycles between years of flooding and then drought with their incumbant low water tables. Rapids, swamps, rocks, sweepers, and sandbars beleaguered the days of steamboating. Pilots would need to circumnavigate the carcasses of herds of bison drowned in the river. These masses of Buffalo carcasses would eventually become a permanent river island. Where water routes provided an excellent travel system for the fur trader and early explorer, the waterways were not dependable for the steamer.

Boats could speed downstream with high efficiency, yet burn huge amounts of firewood and coal, the cargo it was shipping, on the upstream voyage. It was easy to burn 20 cords of wood per day. If one was to stack one cord of wood it would result in a pile 4 feet (122 cm) wide, 4 feet (1.22 m) high, and 8 feet (244 cm) long. When under full steam, a ship’s boiler could consume one and a half cords of wood every hour. Wood piles or cordwood berths were laid out along the shore line for the steamers until coal became the preferred fuel. Boats could make their way at the end of May, with the river cresting from spring melt off around the beginning of June, the high water levels dissipated by the end of June in some years ending the nautical shipping season then and there.

  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    – Mark Twain

The last steamer which sailed into Saskatoon was sundered against the Traffic Bridge (Victoria Bridge) pier in Saskatoon June 8, 1908. Built over the years of 1906-7 by Captain Horatio Hamilton Ross (1870-1925) of the Ross Navigation Company, the luxury ship had a short life. It was the season of most dependable and reliable steam ship travel, the water was high, the the “City of Medicine Hat” came downstream to Saskatoon. The steamer navigated the waters below the Canadian Northern Railway bridge successfully. However, the steamer, caught up by a telegraph cable, was swept against the piers of the Traffic Bridge where it floundered, and capsized losing its tonnage of flour. No lives were lost.

It was this steamer, “the greatest nautical disaster in prairie history” which is documented in the film “The Last Steamship: The Search for the SS City of Medicine Hat.” Nils Sorensen relates that the sternwheeler made front page news, when it sank in the spring flood waters of the Saskatchewan. Then anchor was recovered in 2008, and 1,000 artifacts were recovered in 2012 when a portion of the Traffic Bridge on the south side of the river was torn down.

  • Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain”~Mark Twain

Ross, a prosperous Remittance Man did not give up, he went out and bought two tugs, which were so loaded by freight, he needed to buy another boat “O’Hell” for a cruise/party ship. Ross Navigation towed log booms, barges and ships, and hauled freight as well as holding parties aboard cruise ships. “Nipawan“[sic] was a luxury ship which Ross launched in the midst of stiff competition.

The North Saskatchewan afforded travel for a short time after 1908. The rail lines commenced in the southern portion of the province through Qu’Appelle, Regina, so steamers were still valuable in the northern region along the North Branch to convey freight and passengers till the rail line came north.

The lumber industry between “The Pas”, Carrot River, Nipawin, and Cumberland House region continued to avail themselves of boats for the lumber industry up until 1954. The Finger Lumber Company was purchased in 1919 by Charles Winton, David Winton and Alvin Robertson who re-named the operation The Pas Lumber Company. Operating mills at both Prince Albert and The Pas, they employed the steamersWinton“, the “Emma E“, the “David N. Winton“, and the “Alice Mattes” and barges along both the Saskatchewan River and the Carrot River. In September of 1926, the “Jack Winton” was sunk in shallow water. The ““David C. Winton” and two wrecking barges were discharged to salvage the sunken steam boat out of waters which had risen another five or 6 feet (1.8 m).

The steamboat industry, trying to survive in mounting competition, now offered freight rates of $1.80 per hundred weight undercutting rail line and stage coach rates of 1886 which charged $2.50. For general merchandise, the steamboats also proffered a cheaper rate $2.90 as compared to $4.50 by rail. Copper ore was the next commodity shipped down the water routes between Sturgeon Landing in the north making its way across lake and river to the Saskatchewan route. This ore industry was active between 1917 and 1925.

Soon steamboating in Saskatchewan ceased entirely.

  • It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs, looking up at stars, and we didn’t even feel like talking aloud.” -Mark Twain


For more information:

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Navigation of the Saskatchewan. Steamers

Saskatchewan Gen Web ~ Transportation

Ballad of the Saskatchewan ~ A Poem

The Aged Pilot Man ~ A Poem

Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


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Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan

9 Dec

This table did not have the proper width here, so this is a mirror link

Deception Pass Morning Mist

Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan


Vessel Constructed Length Beam Depth of Hold Draft Tonnage Demise Source
First Steamship (S.S.) on Saskatchewan
Not Christened
1873 142 feet (43 m) 22 feet (6.7 m)       1873 *
S.S. Alberta 1884 (1904) 100 feet (30.5 m) 20 feet (6.1 m)   12 inches (30.5 cm) 86 tons fully loaded 150 tons (150.07 gross tonnage) 1885 (1916) * * * *
Alice Mattes 1921 96 feet (29.3 m)         1950 * *
“Alpha 1873 105 feet (32 m) 22 feet (6.7 m)     gross tonnage 180.55 (1882) 1885 * * * *
S.S. Assiniboia 1903           1906 * *
S.S. Baroness 1883 174.5 feet (53 m)} 30 feet (9 m)   18 inches (45.7 cm) 202 tons empty 320 tons fully loaded 1885 * * * *

S.S. Battleford                
S.S. Cheyenne before 1879             *
S.S. City of Edmonton 1909 132 feet (40.2 m) {136 feet (41.5 m)} 34 feet (10 m)       (1917) 1918 * * * *
S.S. City of Medicine Hat 1906-7 130 feet(40 m)     0.6 m (1.9 feet) draft   1908 * *
S.S. City of Prince Albert 1907 100 feet (30.5 m) 24 feet {7.31 m)       late 1920s * *

S.S. City of Winnipeg 1881 (Was “Minnesota“) Re-built lengthened 40 feet (12.2 m) now either: 150 feet (45.72 m) or {170 feet (51.8 m)}         1881 * * * *
S.S. Cumberland               *
“David N. Winton 1920 120 feet (36.6 m)         1954 * * *
S.S. George V about 1911           1918 * *
S.S. Glad Tidings               *
S.S. Glendevon 1882         80 tons 1891 * *
“Jack Winton   120 feet (36.6 m)           *
S.S. John Bull               * *
S.S. Josie 1890       25 inches (63.5 cm)   1914 * *
S.S. Lady of the Lake 1906           1907 (Later Qu’Appelle) *
S.S. Lily Built 1876 reassembled 1877 first work 1879 100 feet (30.5 m) 24 feet (7.31 m) 4 feet (1.22 m) 18 inches (45.7 cm) 75.69 (207) 1883 * * * * * ^
S.S. Manitoba built 1875 launched on SK 1882 190 feet (57.9 m) (205 feet (62.5 m)} 31 feet (9.45 m)   300 tons (195 tons) 1885 * * * * * *
S.S. Marion 1907           1914 * *
S.S. Marquis 1882 207 feet (67 m) or {201 feet (61 m)} 33.5 feet (10 m) 5.3 feet (1.6 m) 25 inches (63.5 cm) Two sources: 475 empty, 754 tons loaded (Another source 278.8 tonnage) Out of service around 1886 or 1889 beached in 1890 * * * * * * ^
S.S. May Queen 1884 35 feet (10.7 m)         1885 *
S.S. McKillop-Benjafield 1903             *
S.S. Minnesota 1875 Either 110 feet (33.5 m) or {130 feet (39.6 m) }         1881 (later “City of Winnipeg” ) * * * *
S.S. Minnow 1884 (1885) About 73 feet (22.3 m) or {75 feet (23 m)} 10 feet (3.05 m)     16 ton 1900 * * * *
S.S. Nipawain 1917 90 feet {86.8 feet}         1930s * * * *
S.S. Northcote
North Goat
1874{150 feet (46 m)} 154 feet (47 m) 28.5 feet (8.7 m) 4.5 feet 30 inches (76.2 cm) (22 inches (55.88 cm) light load, 3.5 feet (1.1 m) loaded 150 tons freight) 170.69 (291/441 tons) (gross tonnage 461.34, registered tonnage 290.63 two sources) 1886 * * * * * * * * ^
S.S. North West
The Greyhound of the Saskatchewan
1881 200 feet (61 m) 33 feet (10 m) 4.5 feet (1.4 m) 18 inches (45.72 cm) 120.00 tonnage (305 tons) (425 gross tonnage) beached 1896 / destroyed 1899 * * * * * ^
O’Hell 1910           1920s * *
S.S. Pathfinder 1903           1914 * *
Princess 1881 132 feet (40.2 m)       gross tonnage 289 1906 * * *
S.S. Qu’Appelle 1907 (Was “Lady of the Lake“)           1918 *
S.S. Roughsedge-Ramsay 1905           1909 *
S.S. Sam Brisbin   47 feet (14.3 m)       18 ton 1930 * * *
S.S. Saskatchewan 1904           1913 * *
S.S. Scona 1907 (Was the “Strathcona“)           1918 * *
S.S. Strathcona 1904 100 feet (30.5 m)         1907 (Later the “Scona” ) * *
S.S. The Pas 1910           1920s *
S.S. Tobin 1921           1930s *
S.S. Welcome 1905           1906 (Later “Lady of the Lake“) *

…all men–kings & serfs alike–are slaves to other men & to circumstance–save alone, the pilot–who comes at no man’s back and call, obeys no man’s orders & scorns all men’s suggestions. The king would do this thing, & would do that: but a cramped treasury overmasters him in the one case & a seditious people in the other. The Senator must hob-nob with canaille whom he despises, & banker, priest & statesman trim their actions by the breeze of the world’s will & the world’s opinion. It is a strange study,–a singular phenomenon, if you please, that the only real, independent & genuine gentlemen in the world go quietly up and down the … river, asking no homage of any one, seeking no popularity, no notoriety, & not caring a damn whether school keeps or not.
– Mark Twain


For more information:

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Navigation of the Saskatchewan. Steamers

Saskatchewan Gen Web ~ Transportation

Ballad of the Saskatchewan ~ A Poem

The Aged Pilot Man ~ A Poem


Full Sized Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


Follow me on Word Press, Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Live Journal, Sask Gen Web and Flickriver


Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver


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Passionate Embrace ~ Pink Rose by Julia Adamson (AumKleem)) on
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Bibliography for: Steamships “All aboard!” on the Saskatchewan

9 Dec

Sunset - the sky aflame with great love

Bibliography for:


Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan



Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


Archer, John H. Saskatchewan A History Page 53, 68, 90, 100, 147. (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Western Producer Prairie Books. 1980. ISBN 0-88333-6 ISBN 0-88833-2)

Brown, Roy. The Mystery Ship of Spruce Woods Forest Virtual Manitoba.

Comfort, D.J. Rivers of Water and Steamboats North
Meeting Place of Many Waters
Part two in a history of Fort McMurray
Excerpts from pages 170-175

Cousins, Brian. Transportation Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.
Winnipeg Free Press Page 31. Saturday December 1, 1956.

Dalton, Anthony. Fire Canoes: Steamboats on Great Canadian Rivers. (Heritage House Publishing Co. 2012. ISBN 1927051452, 9781927051450)

Dalton, Anthony. A Rollercoaster Ride of a Life Horatio Hamilton Ross wasn’t your normal sort of hero, but he established a massively successful business, left a trail of maritime disaster, and was loved by his friends. Scotland Magazine Issue 9. 1999-2012. Paragraph Publishing Ltd. Norwich.

Dawson, Simon James. Report on the exploration of the country between Lake Superior and the Red River Settlement, and between the latter place and the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Lovell, 1859

Dickason, Olive Patricia. Canada’s first nations : a history of founding peoples from earliest times. page 284. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).

Dowse, Thomas. Manitoba and the Northwest Territories Publisher s.n., 1879

Gallaher, Bill. The Frog Lake Massacre TouchWood Editions, 2011 ISBN 1926741919, 9781926741918

Hawkes, John. Saskatchewan, Canada Historic Transportation. Navigation on the Saskatchewan. The Story of Saskatchewan and its People. S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1924. Saskatchewan Gen Web. 2002.

H.B.Co. Steamer “The Saskatchewan” 1907 SAIN Photographs. Saskatchewan Archival Information Netword.

Herzog, Lawrence. When Steamboats Ruled the River It’s Our Heritage. Vol. 22 No. 26. July 1, 32004. Edmonton Real Estate Weekly.

Herzog, Lawrence. A City Called Home – Interpretations. When Steamboats Ruled the river. Edmonton Public Library.

Kerr, Donn and Stan Hanson. Saskatoon: The First Half-Century. page 16-17, 28-30. (NeWest. 1982. ISBN 0-920316-37-9 ISBN 0-920316-35-2)

Kostash, Myrna. Duane Burton. Reading the River:
A Traveller’s Companion to the North Saskatchewan River
Coteau Books, 2005 ISBN 1550503170, 9781550503173

The Lumber Industry in Manitoba ~Government of Manitoba (pdf)

Manitoba Photographers Frank Jay Haynes (1853-1921) “Stereoscopic Views along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Manitoba Historical Society. 1998-2012 .

Marquis” SAIN Photographs Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Massie, Merle.  At the Edge: The North Prince Albert Region of the Saskatchewan Forest Fringe to 1940(pdf) 2010. University of Saskatchewan.

McDougall, John. Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical Forward by John Blue.

McLennan, David. Our Towns:
Saskatchewan Communities from Abbey to Zenon Park
 CPRC Press, 2008
ISBN 0889772096, 9780889772090

Mossy Vale, Saskatchewan Steamboats at Mossy Vale. David N. Winton Alice Mattes January, 2012.

Nichols, George C. A Mississippi Riverboat pilot looks back on his career, 1845-1883. Recollections of a Pioneer Steamboat Pilotcontributing to the early history of the Mississippi (La Crosse, Wis. : Tucker & Co., 1883) Wisconsin Historical Society. ©1996-2012

Nipawin Historical Society. Bridging the years : Nipawin, Saskatchewan Nipawin, Saskatchewan. 1988

The “Northcote” (pdf) Musee Virtuel Virtual Museum of Canada.

Northern Prairie Steamboats Manitoba Historical Society. 1998-2012.

Nelson, David. S.S. Northcote 11/10/12.

S.S. Northcote” SAIN Photographs. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Northern Alberta Railways University of Alberta (doc)

Northwest” arriving at Battleford SAIN Photographs. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Otter, A.A. Den. Civilizing the West:
The Galts and the Development of Western Canada
. University of Alberta, 1986
ISBN 0888641117, 9780888641113

Pelly, David F. The Old Way North:
Following the Oberholtzer-Magee Expedition
Minnesota Historical Society, 2008 ISBN 0873516168, 9780873516167

Photo Gallery Index 1898 The Minnow Canadian History Directory.

Photo Gallery 1911 “City of Edmonton” Canadian History Directory.

Picture from the Local History Room Collections Traffic Bridge During the Flood and the hull of the “City of Medicine Hat” steam boat.

Prairie Postcards. Cowles, Frank, Recollections of a traveller, Strathcona, Alta. (c1903) the Canadian Culture Online Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. University of Alberta © 2003-2009

Prairie Postcards. City Studio. The Ill-fated “City of Medicine Hat. Wrecked at Saskatoon image. Canadian Culture Online Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. 2003-2009.

Prairie Postcards. Wreck of the steamer “City of Medicine Hat” which lies on its side in the river agains a pier of the Traffic Bridge Canadian Culture Online Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage
Copyright © 2003-2009 University of Alberta.

Prince Albert Historical Society. River Boats. Hudson Bay Co. and other Steam Powered Paddle Wheelers at Prince Albert on the North Saskatchewan. 1994.

The Qu’Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railroad and Steamboat Co. has 1,000,000 acres of odd numbered sections in the old settled districts between Regina, the capital city of the Canadian Northwest and Prince Albert … [microform] : Osler & Nanton, general agents, 381 Main Street, Winnipeg Internet Archive Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music and Wayback Machine.

Relic of the Rebellion, Prince Albert. the remains of the “S.S. Marquis” riverboat on shore at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. SAIN. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Sanderson, Ida. Alpha” Souvenir Westman History Resources Project: Digitally Preserved Articles. Glenboro Gazette. The “S.S. Alpha” A Souvenir.

Saskatchewan’s Top News Stories: Heroes and Outlaws. News of the Week. Batoche Taken. Miscreancy of Riel. Captain Jack French killed 1885. Canada’s Digital Collections by the University of Saskatchewan Libraries.

Steamer “Saskatchewan” at Prince Albert, SK SAIN Photographs. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Saskatchewan Settlement Experience Saskatchewan Archives Board. 2005.

SAIN Photographs Steamer “Saskatchewan” at Prince Albert, Steamer “City of Edmonton” at Edmonton. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Saskatoon City News. S.S. City of Medicine Hat Information and Chronology. November 18, 2012.

Smith, T.R. ^ Editor D.H. Bocking. “The Steamboat Lily” Saskatchewan History magazine. Volume SVII, No. 2, Spring 1964. Saskatchewan Archives Office, University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. 1964.

S. S. Marguis.” SAIN Photographs Saskatchewan Archival Information Network.

Shortt, Adam. and Arthur George Doughty. Canada and its provinces : a history of the Canadian peoples and their institutions. Volume 10, Section V : the Dominion : industrial expansion, Part II Glasgow, Brook & Company Toronto, Ontario 1914

S.S. Nipawin “of Kenora on the Saskatchewan River 1928. Sternwheeler “S.S. Alice Mattes” 1920. Community Memories. Sam Waller Museum, The Pas, Manitoba, Musee Virtuel, Virtual Museum.

Steamboat “City of Medicine Hat” sinking at Saskatoon June 7, 1908. Glenbow Museum.

Steamboat “City of Medicine Hat” on South Sasktachewan River, Medicine Hat, Alberta image  Glenbow Museum.

Steamer North-West reaches Battleford and Edmonton. Saskatchewan Herald. August 4. Reprinted Winnipeg Free Press. August 22, 1882

Steamship on the Prairies: wreck from 1908 found in South Saskatchewan River. Canadian Press. November 15, 2012.

Thomas, Lewis Herbert. John Elgin Foster. The Developing West:
Essays in Honor of Lewis H. Thomas
University of Alberta, 1983.
ISBN 0888640358, 9780888640352

Tolton, Gordon Errett. Prairie Warships: River Navigation in the Northwest Rebellion (Heritage Publishing Co. 2007. ISBN 1894974301, 9781894974301)

Tolton, Gordon Errett. Navigation in the Northwest Rebellion Heritage House Publishing Co, 2007
ISBN 1894974301, 9781894974301

We’ve had our share of notable disasters. Of fires that ravage grasslands, forests and town main streets, Saskatchewan has battled thousands. Of blizzards that bring the province to a standstill, we all have stories. Ours is a windblown country, with tornadoes an annual summer threat. The Leader Post. October 20, 2008.

Wish you Were Here Saskatchewan Postcard Collections Steamboats – Wreck of the City of Medicine Hat University of Saskatchewan Archives. 2010.

Wish you were Here Saskatchewan Postcard Collecitons Str City of Edmonton, Edmonton, AB University of Saskatchewan Archives. 2010.

Wiebe, Rudy. Big Bear Extraordinary Canadians. Penguin Canada, 2008
ISBN 0143172700, 9780143172703

Winnipeg Free Press. Tuesday August 22, 1882.

Winnipeg Free Press Saturday, May 06, 1972 – Newspaper Archive Grand “Steamer Marquis” Comes To Ignominious End. 2012.

Wreck of steamboat “City of Medicine Hat” image Glenbow Museum.


For more information:

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Navigation of the Saskatchewan. Steamers

Saskatchewan Gen Web ~ Transportation

Ballad of the Saskatchewan ~ A Poem

The Aged Pilot Man ~ A Poem


Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


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The Aged Pilot Man

9 Dec

O, need I tell that passion's name?

The Aged Pilot Man

On the river channel, it was,
All on a summer’s afternoon,
I sailed forth with my parents
Far away to Saskatoon.

From out the clouds at noon that day
There came a dreadful storm,
That piled the billows high about,
And filled us with alarm.

A man came rushing from a house,
Saying, “Snub up your boat I pray,
Snub up your boat, snub up, alas,
Snub up while yet you may.”

Our captain cast one glance astern,
Then forward glanced he,
And said, “My wife and little ones
I never more shall see.”

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
In noble words, but few,—
“Fear not, but lean on Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

The boat drove on, the frightened mules
Tore through the rain and wind,
And bravely still, in danger’s post,
The whip-boy strode behind.

“Come ‘board, come ‘board,” the captain cried,
“Nor tempt so wild a storm;”
But still the raging mules advanced,
And still the boy strode on.

Then said the captain to us all,
“Alas, ’tis plain to me,
The greater danger is not there,
But here upon the sea.

So let us strive, while life remains,
To save all souls on board,
And then if die at last we must,
Let . . . . I cannot speak the word!”

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
Tow’ring above the crew,
“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

“Low bridge! low bridge!” all heads went down,
The laboring bark sped on;
A mill we passed, we passed church,
Hamlets, and fields of corn;
And all the world came out to see,
And chased along the shore
Crying, “Alas, alas, the sheeted rain,
The wind, the tempest’s roar!
Alas, the gallant ship and crew,
Can nothing help them more?”

And from our deck sad eyes looked out
Across the stormy scene:
The tossing wake of billows aft,
The bending forests green,
The chickens sheltered under carts
In lee of barn the cows,
The skurrying swine with straw in mouth,
The wild spray from our bows!

“She balances!
She wavers!
Now let her go about!
If she misses stays and broaches to,
We’re all”—then with a shout,]
“Huray! huray!
Avast! belay!
Take in more sail!
Lord, what a gale!
Ho, boy, haul taut on the hind mule’s tail!”
“Ho! lighten ship! ho! man the pump!
Ho, hostler, heave the lead!

“A quarter-three!—’tis shoaling fast!
Three feet large!—t-h-r-e-e feet!—
Three feet scant!” I cried in fright
“Oh, is there no retreat?”

Said Dollinger, the pilot man,
As on the vessel flew,
“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through.”

A panic struck the bravest hearts,
The boldest cheek turned pale;
For plain to all, this shoaling said
A leak had burst the ditch’s bed!
And, straight as bolt from crossbow sped,
Our ship swept on, with shoaling lead,
Before the fearful gale!

“Sever the tow-line! Cripple the mules!”
Too late! There comes a shock!
Another length, and the fated craft
Would have swum in the saving lock!

Then gathered together the shipwrecked crew
And took one last embrace,
While sorrowful tears from despairing eyes
Ran down each hopeless face;
And some did think of their little ones
Whom they never more might see,
And others of waiting wives at home,
And mothers that grieved would be.

But of all the children of misery there
On that poor sinking frame,
But one spake words of hope and faith,
And I worshipped as they came:
Said Dollinger the pilot man,—
(O brave heart, strong and true!)—
“Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
For he will fetch you through.”

Lo! scarce the words have passed his lips
The dauntless prophet say’th,
When every soul about him seeth
A wonder crown his faith!

And count ye all, both great and small,
As numbered with the dead:
For mariner for forty year,
On Erie, boy and man,
I never yet saw such a storm,
Or one’t with it began!”

So overboard a keg of nails
And anvils three we threw,
Likewise four bales of gunny-sacks,
Two hundred pounds of glue,
Two sacks of corn, four ditto wheat,
A box of books, a cow,
A violin, Lord Byron’s works,
A rip-saw and a sow.

A curve! a curve! the dangers grow!
Hard-a-port, Dol!—hellum-a-lee!
Haw the head mule!—the aft one gee!
Luff!—bring her to the wind!”

For straight a farmer brought a plank,—
(Mysteriously inspired)—
And laying it unto the ship,
In silent awe retired.

Then every sufferer stood amazed
That pilot man before;
A moment stood. Then wondering turned,
And speechless walked ashore.
Adapted from The Aged Pilot a poem by Mark Twain


For more information:

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Navigation of the Saskatchewan. Steamers

Saskatchewan Gen Web ~ Transportation

Ballad of the Saskatchewan ~ A Poem

The Aged Pilot Man ~ A Poem


Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


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A Ballad of the Saskatchewan

9 Dec

O, need I tell that passion's name?

A Ballad of the Saskatchewan


Now again ’tis lovely May, by the riverside I stray,
And the song birds sing around and overhead,
And I watch the river flow as I did long years ago
When the North West in her glory sailed ahead.

As I watch the river flow, I think on the long ago
When each pioneer granted a homestead begun
In the land so bright and new, in the land so fair to view
In the valley of the famous River Saskatchewan.

Then the North West in her prime, on the river made good time
And her passengers admired her as she sped
Through the valley bright and new, through the valley fair to view
On the swift waters of the Saskatchewan water bed.

Fancy hears the tinkle ting of her bells as they would ring
For to start or stop or back or come ahead,
And the sounding of her gong, as they steamed her extra strong
Through the Saskatchewan river water bed.

And now it comes to mind, how each woodpile they would find
And load up enough to keep her furnace fed
As she sailed from side to side down or up the ruby tide
Landing pioneers along the Saskatchewan water bed.

Men of fame and high renown, on the North West then sailed down
To find out its great resources they were led
That they might see and write, of the fertile vale so bright,
Lovely valley, flowery valley, Saskatchewan’s water bed.

Now to you I will relate, Peter McArthur’s ecstatic state
Honeymoon suites, Grand piano, nothing but the best
Pioneer Iron Works of Wisconsin, double-level engines placed within,
Nothing repressed, the envy of the west.

But the North West is no more, for upon Edmonton’s shore
She was wrecked upon Low Level Bridge, and never more can come ahead.
But some relics of her still lie beneath the waves a’murmurin’ still
In the willows by the Saskatchewan River bed.

She will never sail again, for the bridge did cut her in twain,
And no more upon her decks can old friends have fun
As they danced in days of yore, as she sailed from shore to shore,
Landing pioneers along the shores of the Saskatchewan.

I recall to mind today, some old friends who went away,
Pioneers who were to finish what they had begun,
Friends who came here to reside, when the North West in her pride
Towed her barges filled with grain upon Saskatchewan

Friends are leaving one by one, pioneers have gone,
Some have gone to other lands and some are done,
Some of them are laid to rest, in the East, North, South and West,
And some others rest beside the peaceful Saskatchewan.

Then, good-bye old friends, good-bye, for the dear old days we sigh,
And live o’er again some youthful years long gone,
And we’ll often call to mind, happy days we left behind
In the valley of the famous River Saskatchewan.

As I muse and watch the stream, here and there a fish doth gleam,
And the song birds overhead dig and sing ‘neath the springtime sun,
And I watch the river flow, as I did long years ago,
When the North West in her glory sailed the Saskatchewan.

Adapted from A Ballad of the Red by Patrick H. Donohue, an old riverman


For more information:

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Navigation of the Saskatchewan. Steamers

Saskatchewan Gen Web ~ Transportation

Ballad of the Saskatchewan ~ A Poem

The Aged Pilot Man ~ A Poem


Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


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Saskatchewan School Inspection of the One Room Schoolhouse

2 Sep

Sunrise Miracle ~ Digital Painting

Saskatchewan School Inspection of the One Room Schoolhouse

school inspector provided direction for inexperienced school board trustees and
one room school house teachers. Such supervision was needed in the early twentieth century when teachers had very limited professional training. Teachers were expected to become community leaders.” The school inspector “had expert preparation in community leadership and school organisation and professional supervision in the ordinary school subjects….to give him [teachers] sound advice when community troubles arise; and to help get results in the classroom.”

A new teacher was appointed over a multigrade one room schoolhouse by the elected board of trustees These teachers, in turn were subject to inspection and supervision by the School Inspector to the various districts. The school inspector would have an area between 1,548 square miles (4,009 square kilometers) at the smallest to the largest which encompasses 6,372 square miles (16,503 square kilometers) or 3,295 square miles (8,534 square kilometers) on average.

Inspectors traversed on average 4,050 miles (6,518 kilometers) in one year. The inspector would travel roads many times not much more than prairie cart trails, or upon survey roads which were graded and built “on the square”. The early Model A and Model T Fords had neither heaters, “windshield wipers, not speedometers, but one did not worry about exceeding speed limits; one was just thankful the vehicle kept crawling along.” It wasn’t until the 1930s when the V-8 model emerged. The early roads were often impassable, and the inspector relied upon farmers and their teams of oxen to “pull him out of the mud holes.

inspectors mainly used automobiles to complete the circuit between their one room
schoolhouses. School inspectors may have rent their transportation from the livery barn and then rode up to the school astride their horse. It
has been recorded that horse and rider may travel as much as 7,000 miles (11,265 kilometers) in one year. The inspector on their long sojourns met with bad road conditions, weeks away from home, sporadic meals, and sleeping quarters often shared with bedbugs. Inspectors endured harsh conditions, especially in the newer developing portions of the province. Carrying along their own camping outfits, bed, and cooking utensils they would embark on their visits to each school in their inspectorate.

A school inspector may well indeed travel through about five municipalities in the smallest of inspectorate areas. Inspectorate region 24 south east and south west of Saskatoon in 1916 served the highest number, 90 municipalities. A school district could form when an area smaller than 20 square miles (52 square kilometers) had a minimum of ten school aged children and four persons who could be assessed for school purposes. No student should “walk or ride their horse more than three to four miles” to school.

The school inspector upon his visit once or twice a year would not only check to see how the pupils were progressing in their studies, and their conduct but also to offer a guiding hand to the teacher to improve their teaching ability. The teacher may be instructed in new modern teaching methods, such as teaching word recognition by sight, not the old fashioned phonetic way.” During the time spent at a one room schoolhouse, the inspector, arriving suddenly may give an impromptu lesson such as reading the poem by the Middle Ages poet “Caedmon” and requesting students to write the poem in their own words. Mr. Francis, a school inspector assured the Cairnsview students and teacher that they were the best singers in his whole inspectorate! His inspector visits always ended in a fun-filled sing song.

In 1886, when it came time to conduct the student examinations, the pupils were apt in answering questions put forward by the inspector, the Reverends and the teacher, The students showed excellent knowledge of the maps and globe provided to the school a short time ago. Valuable prizes were handed out to the young scholars, and the school received a grand edition of Tennyson’s poems for general proficiency.

“When the school inspector walked in, the class pulled itself together and determined not to make any mistake this time.
All went well until the Inspector picked on Jimmie.
“Now, my lad,” he said, “what’s the plural
of mouse?”
“MIce,” said Jimmie.
“Right, ” said the inspector, “and now, what is the plural
of baby?”
“Twins,” said Jimmie, and that did it. –reports
London Answers in a Chance to Smile This sums up the atmosphere nervous, maybe “Scared”, of a school teacher and class in a one room school house receiving her inaugural first year School Inspector’s Report.

In the November 8, 1915 edition of The Morning Leader School Inspector for Yorkton, J.T.M. Anderson, noted that ” Continuous readjustment by small and almost imperceptible degrees was the idea at which educators should aim…for educational conditions which required to be remedied…. they [teachers] must more than ever be leaders in the various communities. Their work must be larger that the mere teaching of the three r’s, or even the teaching of English. They must be true interpreters of our Canadian life.” Canadian citizenship and sentiments within immigration settlements was indeed a focus in the years of World War I (1914-1918).

It fell to the school inspector to “give sound advice when community troubles arise, and to help get results in the classroom”, and visit the farm homes of families with truant children to tell them to start school. In 1916 there was provision in the School Act to provide instruction in a foreign language during the last hour of the school day. It was up to the school inspector to find a teacher who could fulfill this requirement if a community requested it. In 1928 Dr. Anderson, a former school inspector, spoke out for educational advantages for all, government inspection in all schools, education for those residents who could not speak English, and for schools which could not procure a teacher. Teachers were scarce in 1942-1943 due to the war and inspectors ratings were more lenient than during the thirties. Citizens could be conscripted to teach.

school inspector’s report addressed concerns which the school‘s board of trustees were
to address such as a new school house which they may be able to comply with, or not be able to meet due to a shortage of money. The school inspector also informed the communities of building recommendations such as the proper type of furnace to procure, or when the Department of Education was undertaking new projects such as giving new floors to those schools when were in need of them.

school trustees and the inspectors worked hand in hand. Following the board meeting, the school inspector would
sanction all orders before being sent out. It was upon the school inspector’s rating of school house and grounds, equipment and teaching that the school district would be eligible for grants which were “one of the strongest powers of persuasion a government has. A.W. Keith, Inspector of Schools, stated “During the year an effort has been made by many of the schools towards improvements in such matters as school gardening, playgrounds, better buildings, enforcement of attendance and general compliance with the school regulations.”

At times the school inspector may be quite impressed that the “square dancing class” at Boston School was asked to put on a display at the next Teacher’s Convention which was exploring “New Techniques in Education.” At Wilbert School, the Junior Red Cross tea fund raiser received a special mention. It was a social and financial success in the community and helped students develop their organizational and socializing skills.

Senator Calder, a former school inspector “considered one of the fundamental weaknesses of the Canadian educational system was that teachers of small rural schools were not adequately equipped for their work and were underpaid” in the spring of 1944.

Though the school inspector visit may be trying for student, teacher and inspector, “meeting people from all walks of life, inspiring teachers and students, and encouraging education in general made it all worth while.”


Related posts:

The Era of Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouses

Saskatchewan Normal Schools


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  • Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

    17 Feb

    Peaceful Calm

    Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

    Homesteads of one hundred and sixty acres of land were offered by the Dominion Land Act of 1872. They were created as the Dominion Government wanted British Columbia to join the Dominion and B.C. would only do so if there was a transcontinental rail line built joining them to eastern Canada.

    The Dominion Government agreed to this term. When it came time to survey the land and enlist existing rail line companies to embark on this project, the rail lines did not wish to lay rail through the prairies. They argued the rail lines would not be used due to the low population, and therefore it would not be economically feasible in the long run and feared the rail lines would be subject to disrepair and vandalism.

    Without a British presence in the west, the Canadian Government realized that the area ay fall to the United States. The Dominion Government, Railway colonisation companies and private colonisation companies all promoted homesteading in Eastern Canada, United States and Europe.

    Precursors to the rail lines and deciding factors to the rail lines were dependent upon the Palliser expedition and the Henry Youle Hind expedition reports.

    Captain John Palliser led a Royal Geographical Society expedition (1857-1860) that explored the Canadian West in an attempt to survey the region’s resources, provide an early analysis of where to best lay a transcontinental railway, and to assess the economic potential.

    In 1853, Palliser wrote the book “Solitary Rambles and Adventures of a Hunter in the prairies.” It was his advice that the railway should be surveyed from Winnipeg up through the area which later housed the Northwest capital of Fort Livingstone (1873-1876) east of present day Norquay and Kamsack. He suggested he rail should extend north of the Eagle Hills through Battleford, to whit, this area became the North West capital between 1876-1883. Following along, the rail would run through to Edmonton. By 1885, the telegraph lines were surveyed and laid in the west following this route including Fort Pitt at Frenchman’s Butte and Fort Saskatchewan enroute to Edmonton.

    Palliser was of the impression that the ony settlements arising in the west would be north of the tree line in the forested area of the Northwest Territories and the economic mainstay would continue to be the trapping industry. This area was believed to be the only place to obtain wood for building houses and subsequently heating them through the prairie winter.

    “In Palliser’s Triangle, Living in the Grasslands 1850-1930 delves into the living conditions during a time when the grasslands were experiencing drought like conditions similar to those experienced in the 1930s. The area called Palliser’s triangle was thought to be an extension of the American desert.

    John Palliser’s conclusions were: “[This area now known as Saskatchewan] can never be expect to become occupied by settlers…it can never be of much advantage to us as a possession.” Captain Palliser became famous or perhaps infamous, for these words.

    Henry Youle Hind and Simon Dawson set out on a subsequent expedition 1857-1858 which showed a much larger area of land was fertile than previously asserted by Captain John Palliser on his expedition. Hind was a botanist and saw the potential for agricultural settlement in viewing the native grasses and plants growing in the river valley area near Long Lake. It waas due to his report that the survey for the rail lines took a more southerly route from Winnipeg then south of Long Lake where the settlement of Regina later established itself becoming the capital of Saskatchewan (1883 to present). This route was more economically viable to the rail lines.

    In 1867, the British North America act brings the provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into one Dominion of canada, divided now into four provinces named Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Prime Minister John A. MacDonald wanted to build the nation of Canada from coast to coast.

    On November 19, 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company agreed to surrender Rupert’s Land to the Dominion of Canada for 300,000 pounds and 120th of lands in the fertile belt. (This amounted to 3,351,000 in the current province boundaries of Saskatchewan). This request was given Royal assent June 23 180.

    Sir Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior initiated a huge advertising campaign for immigration. Homesteads of one hundred and sixty acres of land were offered by the Dominion Land Act of 1872.

    Europeans were familiar with settlement acts. In 1763 Catherine the Great issues Manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in Russia,and in 1862 the United States enacted a Homestead Act inviting immigration to America.

    The terms of the Russian 1763 Manifesto, held that immigrants to Russia would receive communal property, implement their own education and for the majority exercise their religious practices and be exempt from serving in the military and paying taxes.

    The American Homestead Act of 1862 offered the settler 160 acres (64.75 ha) of land, free of monetary cost in exchange for an agreement that the homesteader remain living on the land and cultivate it for a minimum of five years.

    Western Canadian homesteaders could purchase a quarter section of land (160 acres) for a filing fee of $10.00 on the condition that they clear ten acres and construct a domicile within three years. The homesteader was expected to live on the land and cultivate it for six months out of every year in this first period This condition for “proving up the homestead” provided for settlement in the west, and prevented speculators from buying up large amounts of land. Land agents inspected homesteads to ensure that improvements were made annually.

    These were the main factors at work to create opportunities for homesteading in the “Last Best West”. The North West Territories evolved from a hunting and trapping lifestyle to a farming population. The creation of the province of Saskatchewan occurred in 1905.



    California: A History
    Volume 23 of Modern Library Chronicles
     page 169. Kevin Starr. reprint, illustrated. Random House of Canada, 2007. ISBN 081297753X, 9780812977530. digitised online by Google Books. URL accessed February 7, 2012.

    Dickason, Olive Patricia (1997) (Paperback). Canada’s First Nations A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times (second ed.). Toronto, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541358-X, 0-19-541227-3.

    Dominion Lands Act / Homestead Act
    2006 Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina. URL accessed February 7, 2012.

    History Of The United States Of America, Part Five International World History Project. January 2007. URL accessed February 7, 2012.

    Introduction – Free Land! – A National Open-Door Policy (1867-1895) – Traces of the Past – Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience – Library and Archives Canada URL accessed February 7, 2012.

    Lalond, Andre N. and Perdersen Maureen A. Administration of Dominion Lands 1870-1930. pp. Fung, Kai-iu (1999). Barry, Bill. ed. Atlas of Saskatchewan Celebrating the Millennium (Millennium edition ed.). Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan. ISBN 0-88880-387-7.

    McCracken, Jane. Homesteading. pp. 527-528. Volume 2 For-Pat. in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Hurtig Publishers Ltd. Edmonton, AB, CA. 1985. ISBN 0-88830-269-X (set)

    McConnnell, J.G. and Turner A.R. Historical Geography. Land Settlement. pp. 16, 17. in J.H. Richards, K.I. Fung. (1969). Atlas of Saskatchewan. W.G.E. Caldwell, W.O. Kupsch. Saskatoon, SK, CA: University of Saskatchewan.

    Life’s a Grind: For Volga Germans, its not Christmas Without Sausage on the Table Obra, Joan. “Life’s a Grind: For Volga Germans, its not Christmas Without Sausage on the Table.” Fresno Bee, 20 December 2006.: North Dakota State University Libraries NDSU
    Germans from Russia Heritage Collection URL accessed February 7, 2012.

    Russell, R.C. Carlton Trail. The Telegraph Line. pp. 73-75. Prairie Books. The Western Producere. Saskatoon, SK, CA. 1971.

    Schwier, Charles. Railway History. pp. 1541-1544. Volume 3 Pat-Z. in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Hurtig Publishers Ltd. Edmonton, AB, CA. 1985. ISBN 0-88830-269-X (set)

    Survey of the Western Part of the Dominion – Homestead Regulations of Dominion Land – Entry – Homestead Duties Map. Survey of the Western Part of the Dominion, Entered according to Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year 1904. and 1907 by the Scarborough Company, Hamilton, Ontario, at the Department of Agriculture,Scarborough Company, digitised online by Online Map Historical Digitisation Project. Julia Adamson. Copyright February 3, 2009. URL accessed February 7, 2012.
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    Lady of the Lake

    9 Dec

    The Lady of the Lake
    Ave Maria! (You Tube)
    Ave Maria! Ave Maria! maiden mild!
    Listen to a maiden’s prayer!

    -music by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) which was written for an excerpt from….

    “The Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)


    And ne’er did Grecian chisel trace
    A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace,
    Of finer form or lovelier face!
    What though the sun, with ardent frown,
    Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown,–
    The sportive toil, which, short and light
    Had dyed her glowing hue so bright,
    Served too in hastier swell to show
    Short glimpses of a breast of snow:
    What though no rule of courtly grace
    To measured mood had trained her pace,–
    A foot more light, a step more true,
    Ne’er from the heath-flower dashed the dew;
    E’en the slight harebell raised its head,
    Elastic from her airy tread:
    What though upon her speech there hung
    The accents of the mountain tongue,—
    Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear,
    The listener held his breath to hear!


    A chieftain’s daughter seemed the maid;
    Her satin snood, her silken plaid,
    Her golden brooch, such birth betrayed.
    And seldom was a snood amid
    Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid,
    Whose glossy black to shame might bring
    The plumage of the raven’s wing;
    And seldom o’er a breast so fair
    Mantled a plaid with modest care,
    And never brooch the folds combined
    Above a heart more good and kind.
    Her kindness and her worth to spy,
    You need but gaze on Ellen’s eye;
    Not Katrine in her mirror blue
    Gives back the shaggy banks more true,
    Than every free-born glance confessed
    The guileless movements of her breast;
    Whether joy danced in her dark eye,
    Or woe or pity claimed a sigh,
    Or filial love was glowing there,
    Or meek devotion poured a prayer,
    Or tale of injury called forth
    The indignant spirit of the North.
    One only passion unrevealed
    With maiden pride the maid concealed,
    Yet not less purely felt the flame;–
    O, need I tell that passion’s name?

    Thanks very kindly for your visits. Much appreciated!…. Peace and love be with you. I will be off and on through December as it is a busy time of year. Much thanks to Shadowhouse productions (Jerry Jones) for the tetured post card.


    All rights reserved. Copyright © Aum Kleem All my images are protected under international authors copyright laws and may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without my written explicit permission.

    Follow me on Word Press, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Live Journal, and Flickriver

    Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver