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Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Churches ~ Online Parish Registers ~ History

4 Jan
Blossom by Blossom the spring begins Easter Crocus- Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Church ONline  Parish Register History

Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Churches ~ Online Parish Registers ~ History

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has recently released online Saskatchewan Catholic Church Records which include baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, and other records between 1846-1957. The following account is a brief history of the Roman Catholic churches, parishes, missions and their congregations in the localities which have released their pioneering church registers.

  • If priests could be formed, afire with zeal for men’s salvation, solidly grounded in virtue – in a word, apostolic men deeply conscious of the need to reform themselves, who would labor with all the resources at their command to convert others – then there would be ample reason to believe that in a short while people who had gone astray might be brought back to the long neglected duties of religion. We pledge ourselves to all the works of zeal that priestly charity can inspire… We must spare no effort to extend the Savior’s Empire and destroy the dominion of hell.– Saint Eugene de Mazenod (August 1, 1782 – May 21, 1861) founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The Red River Settlement was the first western community establishing Christian missions and churches in western Canada (known as Rupert’s Land between May 6, 1670 and July 15, 1870). Two Roman Catholic priests, Father Joseph-Norbert Provencher (1787-1853) and Father Sévère-Joseph-Nicolas Dumoulin (1793-1853), arrived in 1818 at Red River and undertook missionary training. It wasn’t until 1840 that the Roman Catholic Church began expanding westward across the prairies to Fort Pitt, Fort Edmonton and to other Hudson Bay Company Forts in the plains under early missionary priests such as Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault (1810-1879) and Father Jean-Édouard Darveau (1816-1844).

Three main factors served the expansion of the Roman Catholic church. The “persons who eagerly left France to seek hardship of life in Canada were zealous priests and nuns who came to convert the Indians to Christianity.”~ Dorland p49 The French government was eager for an expansion of the fur trade, and the conversion and friendship of the Indians was deemed necessary. Father Le Caron began missionary work in Quebec as early as 1615. In 1818, a permanent mission arose in the Red River Settlement under Father Provencher. The Cathedral of St. Boniface was erected in 1844 by Bishop Provencher to serve the Apostolic Vicariate of North-West (established from the Archdiocese of Québec). From here, missionaries began traveling west, and Fathers Lafleche and Taché established the mission at Île-à-la-Crosse, Rupert’s Land in 1846 as a base for the Northern posts. The Diocese of St. Boniface was created in 1847 serving all of the northwestern areas of Canada. The pioneering works of early missionaries in Canada was published overseas, and these “Relations” were widely read, encouraging others in the church to serve as missionaries.

1867 marks the year when Canada formed as a nation, referred to as the Canadian confederation year. On March 20, 1869, Rupert’s Land was sold by The Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada. This great expanse of land became known as the North West Territories (NWT) (les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, TNO). By 1871, the Suffragan Sees of St. Boniface, St. Albert and British Columbia were formed.

The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 made homesteads available for a $10 filing fee. On December 16, 1878, Patrick Gammie Laurie of the Saskatchewan Herald the North West Territories first newspaper, wrote, “Within the last five years…the buffalo-hunter is rapidly giving way to the farmer, and the Indian trader to the merchant.”~Hardy pp300 In 1882 the NWT was divided into districts ~ Assiniboia, Alberta, Keewatin, Athabaska and Saskatchewan. In the late 1800s, L’abbé Jean Gaire, l’abbé Louis Pierre-Gravel, and l’abbé Moise Blais all had designation of “missionnaire-colonisateur” for the Diocese of Saint-Boniface, recruiting, colonizing and acting as land agents as well as missionaries for the diocese and its several missions. In 1890, the Vicariate-Apostolic body of the Saskatchewan was created The railway reached Regina in 1883, both Saskatoon, Yorkton, and Prince Albert in 1890 and Willow Bunch in 1926. Along the iron tracks, frontier towns, villages and communities were springing up.

John Archer, summarizes the second factor, as, “The church contributed to the spiritual and educational life of pioneer communities, bringing hope, comfort and social contacts to the lonely and frequently disheartened homesteading families”~Archer 78. By the end of the 1800s church work shifted from mission work with the First Nations to also establishing parishes in the early pioneer agricultural communities. European Catholics joined the French Catholic immigrants, soon priests were not only trained in English and First Nation languages, but also learned the language of their community. The work of the sisters creating convents, hospitals, and schools complemented the spiritual services of the Roman Catholic church. Religious bloc settlements even immigrated with their missionary priest such as the German Catholic settlers in St. Peter’s, St. Joseph’s (Josephtal) and St. Joseph’s Colonies. Early settlements would remain faithful, with services held in pioneer homes, tents, school houses, hotel dining rooms, railway stations or even barn haylofts until the congregation constructed a church.

Western Canada began with mission churches serving ethnic bloc communities. “The Catholics had missions for the Métis at St. Laurent near Fort Carlton, and at St. Labert, Lac la Biche and Lac St. Anne.” ~Hardy p300 Wauchope, Bellegarde, Wolseley, Lebret, Willow Bunch and Montmartre were all listed as French centres in the Archdiocese of Regina. Whereas, Balgonie, Mariahilf (Grayson), Regina, Holdfast and Claybank served German congregations. Cedoux, Candiac and Ituna were predominantly Polish Roman Catholic parishioners. Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Swift Current were diverse Roman Catholic churches listed in the Archdiocese of Regina.

The third factor which affected the expansion of the Roman Catholic church in Canada occured when the government in France passed the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State (Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des Églises et de l’État) caused an upheaval. No longer could religion be taught in public schools funded by the government of France. “As the clergy,” in France, “were in the main monarchist in their political sympathies this was a reason for fearing their influence on the educational system” said Alfred Cobban, Professor of French history. The teaching brothers and sisters were driven away by the government in France. The newspaper “La Croix” advertised teaching opportunities and freedoms of religion in Canada. Missionaries were needed by the Roman Catholic church in Western Canada for the rapidly growing population and villages which sprung up like wild fires along the rails. It was on September 1, of this same year, 1905, that the province of Saskatchewan formed from lands taken from the Districts of Athabaska, Assiniboia, and Saskatchewan North West Territories.

The early priest was often a homesteading farmer as well as postmaster, and school teacher. Appointments in the country side were met with long drives, and the missionary fathers “went their rounds by horse and buggy, on horseback, and sometimes on foot.” ~ MacDonald p.3 Priests would hitch a stoneboat to a team of horses to maneuver the winter snow drifts. “Sparsity of settlement meant long treks to church for many people and lengthy trips for the clergy when visiting parishioners.” ~ MacDonald p.69 At permanently established mission sites, the missionary now constructed chapel, home, established a garden and put in a crop for homestead duties.

  • In all matters one must act as if success depended on our skill and to put in God all our confidence as if all our efforts could produce nothing. ~(Saint Eugene de Mazenod founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. )



Related posts:

Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

The Era of Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouses

How did pioneers travel to their prairie homesteads?

Where were Saskatchewan Homesteads Located?

How do I locate my ancstor’s home town in Saskatchewan?
Have you ever visited your ancestral home?


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Table of Contents Church Parish Localities

Saskatchewan’s Archaeological Cemeteries

20 Dec

Graceful Delight

Saskatchewan‘s Archaeological Cemeteries

This is Part 3 of a 7 part series
The Heritage Property Act oversees the burials not found in a registered cemetery. On discovery of an historical burial site, the Minister is contacted as well as the appropriate agency, church or church historical documents, Indian band, First Nation or Euro-Canadian descendants before any archaeological excavations would be considered. To confirm land ownership, information can be obtained from the Provincial land registry through Information Services Corporation (ISC). The “Central Burial Site” along the South Saskatchewan River has been established for respectful internment of ancient First Nations burials where appropriate and under consultation with appropriate interest groups to determine final re-burial. Here rest over 200 interments. “This is considered a very sacred burial ground to First Nations,” says Carlos Germann director of Saskatchewan’s heritage conservation branch, “unique in that it accommodates all different tribal affiliations.” If the burial site is not threatened or in jeopardy, the site is recorded, and restored. In the case of a discovered homestead burial, similar legal decisions are made regarding the burial site preservation or removal and relocation to a local cemetery. In Saskatchewan, if the soil is disturbed, a permit is required in Saskatchewan. Approximately five to fifteen archaeological burial sites are found each year.

Swift Current is south east of the Gray cemetery examined between 1970 and 1974 and documented in Quaternary Dates and Verebrate Faunas in Saskatchewan by R.E. Morlan,R. McNeely, S.A. Wolfe, and
B.T. Schreiner. In this pre-historic site, 304 interments were found here dating back 3,000 to 5,000 years. The Gray Cemetery, a National Historic Site, is part of the Oxbow Culture, a part of the Middle Precontact Period..

Archaeological study reveals vital cultural, architectural, spiritual and societal histories. The forgotten cemetery of the St. Vital Parish (1879-1885) located on the Battle River near Telegraph Flat, North West Territories was established in 1877. Telegraph Flat was later named Battleford. Following the 1885 North West Rebellion, the Roman Catholic Mission of St. Vital chose the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Cemetery near Fort Battleford and later, the Town of Battleford Cemetery This meant that the original cemetery abandoned, and the location forgotten till its discovery in 1999. A meticulous archaeological survey uncovered mortuary practices, spiritual and cultural customs, health and disease, artifacts, and rituals providing an in-depth documentary of the early history of the Oblate priests, the community and the 19th century Battleford area. The names of those interred was derived from parish registers, national, provincial and municipal archive records, Battleford’s North West Historical Society and newspaper accounts. The extensive archaeological research was compared to the records held by the Parish register. Similar archaeological investigation was applied at the Industrial School Cemetery at Battleford, and the two sites studies were compared. A reburial cemetery was held in 2002, and commemorative marker erected in 2003.

Near Canora, Saskatchewan, the Doukhobor Cemetery of Besednoye village was excavated and studied in detail by archaeological investigation. Seventeen interments were found here, and according to Jon Kalmakoff, eight of these have been identified.

The third archaeological cemetery studied in Saskatchewan was the Nisbet Presbyterian Cemetery discovered in 2004. Between 1866 and 1874 twenty-one interments took place at the Nisbet Mission cemetery. “The examination of cemeteries proffers valuable, multi-faceted information pertaining to the past,” writes Lisa Marie Rudolph in, An Osteological and Historical Examination of the Presbyterian Forest Centre Cemetery Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, “the comprehensive nature of burial and cemetery projects necessitate the involvement of local interest groups and specialists for the study to be successfully completed in a considerate manner.” A re-burial ceremony was held the following year at the South Hill Cemetery in Prince Albert.

Communities benefit from historical areas of historic and aesthetic value which bear “a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared” and can be protected under the Heritage Property Act. The Heritage Conservation Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport (TPCS) has published the Guide to Preparing a Provincial Heritage Property Nomination. As such, “Heritage property is broadly defined as any property that is of interest for its architectural, historical, cultural, environmental, archaeological, palaeontological, aesthetic or scientific value and includes archaeological and palaeontological objects.” Under such designation and protection an historic cemetery would be listed in the provincial Heritage Conservation Branch’s Saskatchewan Register of Heritage Property and the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

The Globe and Mail reported that in 2008 the National Archives records were reviewed to locate cemeteries, and burial sites near Indian Residential Schools or IRS churches. Amongst these is the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery, located on the west side of Pinkie road, unmarked but for a wooden fence. The Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee “believes that actions should be taken to develop recommendations to ensure that the site of the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery be suitably and appropriately recognized.”

Note: This program (Saskatchewan Genealogy Society ~ Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program SCCMP ) has been discontinued, however it ws intriguing, so the information is left here in this blog online

Additional Resources:


Canada Gen Web Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project

Network Canadian Cemetery Management September 2010 Vol 24 No 10

Saskatchewan Gen Web Cemetery Resources and Organisations

Saskatchewan Genealogy Society Cemetery Index

Saskatchewan Historic Cemetery Manual

 SCCMP “The Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program”


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How do the Saskatchewan 2011 Canadian Census Statistics Compare to History?

14 Feb

Engaging Powers of the Paperwhite

How do the Saskatchewan 2011 Canadian Census Statistics Compare to History?

The latest census to be taken was completed in 2011. The results showed that Saskatchewan has shown an increase in population. What’s most exciting is you can look a young person in the eye and say . . . ‘It’s as good, or better, here.’” said Kent Smith-Windsor president of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, “This is a pretty amazing growth cycle. It has the potential to be truly historic.”

Saskatchewan’s growth increased 6.7% from the previous census in 2006. Of this population 60.9% lived within one of the “Census metropolitan areas”, namely Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Lloydminster, North Battleford, Yorkton, Swift Current of Estevan. Saskatoon and Lloydminster saw the largest growth spurt. Saskatoon, the largest CMA, was enumerated at 260,600 persons and the CMA of Regina, a population of 210,556.

“Saskatchewan has gone from a province where people were moving out, to a province where people are choosing to stay and moving in,” Premier Brad Wall said in a statement. That is because of our growing economy, plenty of job opportunities and our great quality of life.” said Premier Brad Wall, “Saskatchewan is simply the best place in Canada to live, to work, to raise a family and to build a life. More and more people are now discovering that and it is why our population is growing.”

To put the 2011 census into context with historical data for the genealogist. Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan has a 2011 population of 193,100 making it the second largest city of the province. However in 1901 its population was 2,249 making it the largest city of the area now known as Saskatchewan. This trend continued, and Regina remained the largest city with a population of 6,100 (1906) 30,213 (1911) and 26,127 (1916). Beginning as Pile O’ Bones in 1882, Regina became both incorporated as a town and the territorial capital of the North-West Territories in 1883, a city in 1903 and the provincial capital in 1905.

The current largest city of Saskatoon has a population of 222,189 in 2011 compared to 113 in 1901, and 3,011 in 1906. Saskatoon became a city in 1906 with a population of 4,500, by amalgamating the communities of Saskatoon, Riversdale, and Nutana. Saskatoon meanwhile showed a population of 3,011 (1906), 12,004 (1911) and 21,048 (1916) behind Regina’s population of the early 1900’s.

Prince Albert, one of the fastest growing settlements of the late 1800s was enumerated at 1,785 in 1901. The third largest city in Saskatchewan has a 2011 population of 35,129. The city’s growth rate (2.9%) was below both the provincial (6.7%) and national average (5.9%). As early as 1876, Prince Albert had a booming population of 750 persons, and 8,500 cattle and horses. Prince Albert was formerly the capital (1882-1905) of the District of Saskatchewan, a regional administrative division of what then constituted the Northwest Territories. The District of Saskatchewan, NWT comprised a central area of present day Saskatchewan extending as far south as Saskatoon, and as far north as Prince Albert. Beginning as the Isbister Settlement, Nisbet Mission and Porter Town, Prince Albert incorporated as a town in 1885 and as a city in 1904. In 1879, it was considered that 40-50 days was good timing for a trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Prince Albert traveling on average 20 miles per day. In the early 1900s travel along Red River Cart trails was abandoned in favour of the railway lines for transportation.

Moose Jaw was the third city of (present day) Saskatchewan in 1901 with a population of 1,558. Moose Jaw remained the third largest city through 1906 (6,249), 1911 (13,823) and 1916 (16,934). Moose Jaw incorporated as a city in 1903, and is now the province’s fourth largest city with a population of 33,274 in 2011 up from 32,132 in 2006. In 1880, when John Macoun traveled the Moose Mountains, the present site of Moose Jaw was called the Souris Plains.

Between 1876 and 1883, Battleford was the territorial capital of the Northwest Territories, and home to the North-West Mounted Police. The Battlefords refers to both Battleford and North Battleford who are directly across from each other on either bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Battleford had a burgeoning population of 609 by 1901, and 4,065 in 2011. North Battleford was not large enough to be enumerated in 1901, and in 2011 had grown to 13,888. By 1911 North Battleford surpassed Battleford in size 2,100 persons to 1,335, continuing in 1916 3,148 to 1,436 persons.

Fort Livingstone, North-West Territories was the territorial capital 1876–1877. This site near Pelly, Saskatchewan was sometimes referred to as Fort Pelly or Swan River. Currently it has no population, only a plaque declaring it a provincial heritage site.

The 1881 Swift Current settlement blossomed following the arrival of the rail over the years 1882-1883 in the midst of a ranching community. Swift Current had a population of 121 in 1901, was able to incorporate as a village in 1903, a town in 1907 with a population of 550, a city in 1914 and recorded a 1916 population at 3,181. The city of Swift Current currently (2011) is the sixth largest in the province, population 15,503 and the eighth largest provincial Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), population 12,973.

Estevan was incorporated as a village in 1899, and later became a town in 1906. On March 1, 1957, Estevan acquired the status of a city, which, in Saskatchewan terms, is any community of 5,000 or more. Estevan census agglomeration 2011 population, 12,973 showed a huge growth of 9.2% up from 2006 and it population of 11,883. The city of Estevan proper showed a population of 11,054 persons up from 10,084.

Lloydminster, the boundary city straddles both Saskatchewan and Alberta. As a Census Agglomeration, Lloydminster is the fifth largest community (population 30,798) compared to other CMA’s of Saskatchewan. The Census Agglomeration of Lloydminster includes both parts of the city, as well as the rural municipality of Wilton No. 472, the Town of Lashburn, Saskatchewan, and the Village of Marshall, Saskatchewan. However, the Saskatchewan portion of the city proper accounted for a population of 12,766 persons. In 1916, the Saskatchewan portion of Lloydminster was 494 persons, up from 1911 (441) and 1906 (389).

The other current cities of Saskatchewan are Melfort (5,576), Humboldt (5,678), Martensville (7,716), Meadow Lake (5,045) , Melville (4,517), and Flin Flon (229 in the SK portion) is also included though the majority of its population is in Manitoba.

Altogether Saskatchewan’s 16 cities amount to a population of 588,823 out of a provincial population of 1,033,381 in 2011. 57% of the population resides in the cities.

Compare this to the 1916 statistic when Saskatchewan’s six cities (Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Weyburn) had a combined population of 79,931, an urban population of 176,297 out of a total provincial population of 647,835. The city population amounts for approximately 12% of the population, and the urban population 27%. The population of Saskatchewan in 1906 came to 257,763 with a city population of 20,778 and an urban population of 48,642. This makes the city population about 8% and an urban population of 18%. Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, population comparisons before this time would be based on estimates from the Northwest Territory enumerations.

The shift from rural to urban occurred in the depression years of the dirty thirties when people vacated their farms in vast number seeking economic stability in the cities. The end of World War II saw an increase in vehicles, paved highways, consolidated urban schools, and improved agricultural machinery such as the combine. Farms became larger, the rural population continued to decline, and the population continued to shift towards the cities and towns.

Read More:

BC and Alberta growth lead to rise in west. Saskatchewan sees turnaround – Postmedia News – The National Post Feb 8, 2012 by Jordan Press.

Cities big and small leading Saskatchewan boom: 2011 Census ~ From Martensville to Warman, Saskatoon to Regina, Saskatchewan growing at record rate
The StarPhoenix February 8, 2012

Saskatchewan Population report

Focus on Geography series – Province of Saskatchewan – Statistics Canada 2011 Census

9 Fascinating facts from the 2011 Census ~ When it comes to the census, Saskatchewan is Canada’s comeback kid. Kevin O’Connor CBC News Feb 9, 2012

Population Trends, Saskatchewan Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Alan Anderson. Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina. 2006.


Related posts:

What can be found at the NEW Saskatchewan Provincial Archives website?

The Era of Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouses

Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

•Love and Marriage in Saskatchewan- a comprehensive guide

How did pioneers travel to their prairie homesteads?

•How to locate birth, marriage and death certificates in Saskatchewan, Canada

Are there genealogy sites that can compete with Ancestry.com?


Engaging Powers of the Paperwhite

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, familiar things new.
William Makepeace Thackeray

All rights reserved. Copyright © Aum Kleem. All my images and text are protected under international authors copyright laws and Canadian photography laws and may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without my written explicit permission. They may be licensed throgh Getty images. .. Peace and love be with you.


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


Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver


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