Tag Archives: pioneer

Saskatchewan in 1921 and the 1921 Census.

6 Feb

Celestial Blue

Saskatchewan in 1921 and the 1921 Census.

1921, an era of transition and change begins. Evolution of a community happens over the course of considerable years. It does not happen, no, that an entire province of people rush out on June 1, 1921 to all buy tractors all at once, and leave Daisy nibbling in the field. The transition from horse and plough to tractor began in a farm here and there, and slowly more and more farmers owned tractor, farm truck and automobile. The 1921 census tells a story of people, and their land, the successes and failures of immigration schemes and homesteading ventures and how life was changing.

History “conjures up feelings of what it was like in a day and age not our own,” speaks John C. Charyk. The first two decades of the 1900s brought with them a huge wave of people to the plains of Saskatchewan. By 1921, these pioneer settlers were proud to call Saskatchewan their home. The early pioneer had divested their time, energy and blood into the land because they had “faith in the possibilities of the country, stood by that faith, and made a success of their undertaking.[1]

“The unorganized territories of British North America had been ceded to the Dominion soon after Confederation, and the West had been tapped and traversed by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the eighties and nineties,” documented the Yearbook of Canada 1922/1923. The 1926 Financial Post reported that there were 6,268.72 miles of railway stretching across the province by 1922 serving “2,139 elevators, 896 loading platforms, 554 stockyards, in addition to depots, warehouses, etc.” The yearbook continues, “but though western population doubled with each of these decades, it was only with the launching of a large scale immigration movement after 1900 that western settlement and production became a first-rate economic factor.” In the two decades 1901-1911 and 1911-1921, the census returns showed over 1,800,000 immigrant arrivals to Canada in each of the decades, over 3,600,000 persons in twenty years.

As W.G. Cates, points out, “the 1921 census, as it shows a much lower rate of increase in population during the 1911-1921 period than that of 1901-1911, is naturally disappointing; but the returns must be considered in the light of the Great War…tens of thousands went overseas to their native land to fight; while other tens of thousands went to the United States in order to escape military service.” Some 60,000 militia gave the supreme sacrifice in the theatre of war, and 20,000 Canadians who served remained in the United Kingdom following their term of service. Of these 60,000 Canadians 6,428 were Saskatchewan boys according to the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial. The mass exodus of citizens, the loss of life, accompanied by the tens of thousands of Saskatchewan personnel serving in the armed forces overseas, might lead one to predict a drop in population, however the 1921 census still showed a population increase.

  • In the early days of the war we were much comforted by the fact that men and women were ready to make sacrifices for this, the greatest cause of all. In Canada, and I am sure elsewhere throughout the Empire, there has been manifest a spirit of co-operation, of mutual helpfulness, of a desire to assist, of self-sacrifice which is most comforting to those who have at heart the welfare of our Empire in years to come. So I am sure it will be in the future. The influence of a spirit of helpfulness and self-sacrifice, which we see everywhere throughout the world, and within our Empire, is one for which I give thanks and am most grateful.” ~ August 14, 1915. Right Honourable Sir Robert Laird Borden, G.C.M.G., M.P. eighth Prime Minister of Canada

The population of Canada was recorded at 7,206,643 in 1911, and according to the Canada Year book 1922-1923, it rose to 8,788,483 in 1921. (Saskatchewan was 757,510.)
If the trend of the first decade had continued, it was estimated that the population should have reached 10,100,000. There were at least a couple of factors at work towards the increase of population. “It should also be taken into account that the returns for the western provinces include about 25,000 returned men, who have been placed on farms through the Soldier Settlement Scheme” noted Cote in his census analysis. The 1921 census showed that not only is there immigration from Europe and the United States, but there is a definite migration from East to West.

70 per cent of the arable farm land was in farms by 1921, and the settlement pattern was established. Professor W.B. Baker chairman of the Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life looks at it this way, “in 1901, 96 per cent of our farmers were owners and 61 per cent of the 13,445 farms were under 200 acres in size. The average size of farm was 285 acres. In 1921, 76.7 per cent of 119,451 farms were owner-operated and 32.5 per cent were under 200 acres while the average size of farm had increased to 369 acres.” In Saskatchewan, 71 per cent of the population was rural, and the remainder urban. The Morning Leader relates that, “more people means more schools and better schools; more roads and better roads; better medical services; more enjoyable community life with all the advantages which must follow.”

However, James Thomas Milton Anderson speaks of the immigration “problem” in the book “The education of the new-Canadian: A treatise on Canada’s greatest educational problem.”  He writes in 1918 following the war years “throughout the prairie provinces great stretches of land have been settled by immigrants from European countries. The language of the home is German, Ruthenian, Hungarian, Bohemian, or Polish, as the case may be. In the villages where they trade they have their own merchants, speaking their own language. In these settlements there is but one force at work to Canadianize their children—the public school.” Dr. Harold W. Foght Specialist in Rural School Practice, summed up the post war hysteria, “Are we to be a homogeneous people on these plains or are we to repeat the tragic sufferings of polyglot Austria” He goes on to discuss “the process of making one Canadian-speaking and thinking people” in A Survey of Education. In 1919, a new school act was passed permitting English as the only language of instruction.

The war had a devastating effect on the peace of mind of the community. Settlers looked at neighbours knowing now who had served for Canada during the Great War, who had deserted, those who chose not to serve, those who left to serve their ancestral lands and those who had lost sons and daughters overseas. Saskatchewan, the great melting pot of immigrants began to give rise to division looking at those who had served with the allies and which communities may have a different allegiance. Saskatchewan peoples along with the rest of Canada sought for a Canadian identity, what it meant to be truly Canadian.

  • In Western Canada there is to be seen to-day that most fascinating of all human phenomena, the making of a nation. Out of breeds diverse in traditions, in ideals, in speech, and in manner of life, Saxon and Slav, Teuton, Celt and Gaul, one people is being made. The blood strains of great races will mingle in the blood of a race greater than the greatest of them all.
    It would be our wisdom to grip these peoples to us with living hooks of justice and charity till all lines of national cleavage disappear, and in the Entity of our Canadian national life, and in the Unity of our world-wide Empire, we fuse into a people whose strength will endure the slow shock of time for the honour of our name, for the good of mankind, and for the glory of Almighty God.” ~ Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon

Anderson, beginning as inspector of schools around Yorkton between 1911-1918, was appointed director of Education 1918-1922. The Morning Leader reported that “the School Attendance Act was rigidly enforced…a larger percentage of pupils passed their examinations and a great percentage of children made better progress because of regular attendance.” It was to this end that school room classes were awarded $3 a day if an average of 15 pupils attended during the school year, and if the schools offered classes beyond grade 7. During the settlement era, 1901-1921, the Department of Education boasted that a new school district was organised every day of the year, however in 1921 only 100 school districts were formed. The department and community both recognised the benefits of consolidated school districts, however the cost of conveying rural children to a consolidated school placed such a transition on hold in 1921.

So what was life like in Saskatchewan in 1921? Saskatchewan men who had served with the military in the Great War (1914-1918) were beginning to return home. This marked great happiness for families with returned love ones, and a time of grief and sadness mourning those who would never come home. However, not only did the communities have the economic transition of the discharged soldiers entering the work place, but the Spanish influenza set in. About 5,000 lives were lost in Saskatchewan alone from this epidemic.

The war time population in 1916 of 647,835 had grown in five years to 757,510. The Model T automobile began to replace the horse and buggy across the prairies, by 1921 there were 34,085 cars. Dotting farms as well, tractors were commencing to replace horse and plough. In 1921, 19,243 tractors were counted in the census returns on 17,523 farms across the province.

With the increase in mechanized travel, the Department of Highways commenced a project in 1920 of laying better roads and bridges. These early roads followed the surveyed township roads, and travel could be done “on the square”, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that highways were “straightened”.

Families would have no televisions, nor computers nor video games. “The school children are actively engaged in eliminating Mr. Gopher, and in some cases some ingenious methods of capturing and killing have been invented by the school boys of the province.”Source” Children would receive two cents bounty or thrift stamps on delivery of gopher tails to their school teacher. By May 1 of 1917, 514,000 gophers had been taken care of by the “Junior Agricultural Service League of Saskatchewan” that spring alone.

1921 was the year before the first Saskatchewan radio station was established, there was no widespread electricity available. Rather than having a television agricultural forum or radio call in “talk show” to catch up on the latest news, farm families could just pick up the telephone and listen in to the “party line” which was often connected to about eight other neighbourly homes. Central exchanges connected various party lines, and in the coldest of winters, without roads, and snow blowers neighbours could catch up on the latest gossip, sales, funerals and chat back and forth.

The high influx of settlers, meant pasture land was being taken up by homesteaders, and the era of the great ranches drew to a close around 1921. The last round up for the Matador ranch was 1921 when 3,400 head of cattle would be taken from the ranch near Saskatchewan Landing (Moose Jaw area) to Waldeck and on to Chicago for sale. No longer would the spring cattle trek see yearlings and two year olds arrive from Texas to the Matador ranch. The ranchers would work long hours, before sun up and after sun down even during the months of long summer days, the treks gave the ranch hands and the settlers an event, and the cowboys had their “semi annual trip to town.”Source Gone now were the days when “One arriving in town, the first thought was for a drink. In the old days the men would ride right into the building and up to the bar.”

  • Come alive you fellers,” hear the foreman shout .“Drop your books and banjos, fetch your saddles out…

    Shake that squeaky fiddle, Red, go and get your hoss,

    “Dutch, ain’t you got duties, as the chuck-wagon boss?

    “Range is gettin’ grassy, winter draws its claws,

    “Calved are fat an’ sassy, teasin’ of their maws,

    “Loafin’ days are over, dreamin’ time is gone,

    No more life in clover, for the round-up’s on.”

    ~ Folksong

1921 was a year of a severe economic depression, Saskatchewan farmers were still reeling from the drought of 1920. Prairie farmers were also hit by the international wheat market collapse of 1921. The growing season of 1921 looked promising showing 14 bushels to the acre as compared to 11 bushels of 1920. Farmers, and communities were very optimistic. The rains came during harvest season and No. 1 Northern Wheat was reduced to No. 4. Despite their threshing efforts, it cost more to take off the crop quickly, and the market price was low. The price for a bushel of wheat brought $1.50, compared to $0.76 in 1921, wheat fell a whopping 50 per cent. During the Great War, the Dominion government “controlled the sale and pricing of wheat” through the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) in 1917, “wheat prices rose to $2.21 a bushel and then $2.62 by 1919.” This same year (1919) that the CWB was dismantled.

The Soldier’s Settlement Act provided for land and loans set at 5% as assistance to erect buildings, purchase livestock, implements and equipment. Though the prices were excellent in 1918 when the soldiers returned home, the growing season was affected by drought, hail and grasshopper infestations. The year of 1919 proved challenging, grasshoppers remained prevalent, wheat was affected by a fungal disease called rust and some areas were hard hit by drought. Returning servicemen on their new Soldier’s Grants were tasked with clearing the land on their newly allocated quarter sections. However, these quarters were not the “best of the best” sections of land, those had already been taken for homestead settlement. The only land which was left were areas which had been already abandoned by homesteader or Indian reserve, forest reserves, and unused school lands.

The drought of 1920 affected the livestock industry of 1921, as there was a shortage of feed, and the market had taken a downward trend. During the “depression in 1921…thousands of farmers and ranchers were ruined….the average dept-ridden farmer of today cannot possibly pay taxes, interest and carry on farm operation on the proceeds of the present prices on farm products,” reported the Calgary Herald. The Minister of Agriculture, Honourable C.M. Hamilton testified “that the average Saskatchewan farm of a half-section worth $12,000, had a mortgage on it of $5,000.” Without tax payments, the school districts had no ability to pay their teachers, Austin F. Cross recalls months of despair and agony which culminated in a turning point in his life when the bank relented to loaning the school trustees money.


  • Saskatchewan, the land of snow,
    Where winds are always on the blow,

    Where people sit with frozen toes–

    And why we stay here, no one knows.

    Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan,

    There’s no place like Saskatchewan.

    We sit and gaze across the plains,

    And wonder why it never rains,

    Till Gabriel doth his trumpet sound,

    And says the rain has gone around.

    ~ William W. Smith

The government under William Melville Martin, second premier of Saskatchewan The provincial government supported railway freight rate reductions, and rail branch line construction. Although the government coffers were drained from the wartime effort, Martin established $5 million available to farmers through a mortgage lending organization through the sale of government bonds.

As of June 1, 2013 92 years will have elapsed since 1921 when the census enumerators went out door to door on June 1, 1921. So, according to Library and Archives Canada, the census should be released from Statistics Canada and transferred over to Library and Archives Canada LAC for public usage. According to the LAC, “The 1921 Census was taken on June 1st, which means that it will be in the custody of Library and Archives Canada on June 1, 2013. Our intention is to make it available to researchers online, in the same format as previous censuses, as soon as possible after that date.Source“//

The Canadian Century Research Infrastructure CCRI is currently creating a 4% sampling of the 1921 Census of Canada in conjunction with Statistics Canada. Currently the instructions to enumerators is available as a pdf file. The CCRI will also look towards establishing databases for the 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941 and 1951 census as well.

  • The lure of love and the west.If you’ve heard the wild goose honking, if you’ve seen the sunlit plain,

    If you’ve breathed the smell of ripe grain, dewy, wet,

    You may go away and leave it, say you will not come again,

    But it’s in your blood, you never can forget.

    ~Nellie McClung

~ Article written by J. Adamson

Further Information:

Census Information

Saskatchewan History and Ethnic Roots

1919 Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba Waghorn’s Guide

1925 Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Waghorn’s Guide

Gazetteer of U.S. and Canadian Railroads 1922

Saskatchewan Highway Map 1925

Rand McNally 1924 Indexed Pocket Map

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Maps 1924

______________________________________________________________________________

Related posts:

Saskatchewan Census News Release

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?

______________________________________________________________________________

Follow me on Flickr, Word Press, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, Live Journal, 500 px and Flickriver

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Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

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Thank you for stopping by, your comments are much appreciated. All rights reserved. Images copyright © Aum Kleem; Article copyright © J Adamson. 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 through Getty images. Peace and love be with you. Namaste.

______________________________________________________________________________

Saskatchewan Census News Release

6 Feb

The Time of His Life

Saskatchewan Census News Release

It is truly an exciting time for genealogists and historians researching roots in Canada, as public record keeping which began in pre-confederation times, and in the early years of Canada can now be released to the general public.

Census records provide invaluable information to the genealogical researcher. A primary source record when gives the family members in relation to the head of the family, the address. The agricultural census provides a look at land holdings and livestock to get an idea how a homesteader was faring proving up his land in the early twentieth century.

The census taken every ten years between 1851 to 1911 have been indexed and offered online at ancestry.com. Searchable as well is the census of western Canada taken in 1906 and 1916. This was part of a project initiated in 2008 when the Library and Archives Canada partnered up with Ancestry.ca Additionally the historical census are also searchable online via Ancestry.com covering the era between 1851-1916.

The original holdings of the census or the primary source records are at the Library and Archives Canada. To search for a particular family or surname, the census originals on the LAC web site are arranged by Federal enumeration district. To determine the district you can search for the land location through the homestead (land) records, by reading a local history / family biography book, the census records transcribed on automated genealogy, using a rural municipality or historical map to determine township, range and meridian, searchable database, finding the cemetery, birth, death or marriage (bmd) record which would record the place of residence

Ancestry.ca took it upon themselves to digitize and index the microfilm records in the LAC holdings. At some time the complete digitized records will be available free of charge to visitors of the LAC website. At this time, the Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906 is fully searchable on Library and Archives Canada by surname, given name, age and province.

When using the census for other years at Library and Archives Canada to locate an ancestral family, a knowledge of historical geography will be of assistance. Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, and before this the population was enumerated as part of the Northwest Territories. In 1882 the Northwest Territories were divided into provisional districts using distinct and different borders than the current provinces.

To determine other Saskatchewan census information and web sites online, a collection is assembled at the Saskatchewan Gen Web Census Information web page. This web page includes the Census for the Hamlet of Insinger, Saskatchewan taken in 1921, the Census for the Hamlet of Duff, Saskatchewan 1920, as well as the Census for the Hamlet of Duff, Saskatchewan 1920 which were compiled online by Sue (Kesiah).

Provincial archives additionally have a number of other village and town census records. These records done on the years when the National census was not being taken were compiled to determine the localities eligibility to incorporate as a town and the need to show the pre-requisite population of 500 or more residents. If a town, the locality may choose to incorporate as a city with a population of 5,000 or more persons, if the census count so warrants.

Public libraries have on file the census 1666-1916 available on microfilm or can obtain it via interlibrary loan if they have a microfilm reader. Along with the Census of Canada, the 1918 Census of Independent Doukhobors: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia compiled into a finding aid by Jonathon Kalmakoff is available through the provincial archives and libraries.

“Library and Archives Canada is pleased to be part of this collaborative agreement with Ancestry.ca, which” said Mr. Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, “…will truly enhance Canadians’ ability to fully explore their documentary heritage and will also be of great interest to those around the world with ancestors who immigrated to or visited Canada.”

“This is a win-win relationship for Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry.ca as the partnership,” says Josh Hanna, Senior VP, Ancestry International reports, “…will create a seamless flow for digitizing and indexing vast Canadian records and will be a huge benefit to family history researchers in Canada who will soon have the opportunity to access more collections than ever before.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also partnered with Ancestry.com providing the expertise, experience and person hours in the indexing of the 1916 census. Family Search now provides the 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1916 census online . The
1911
census is in the Family History libraries.

First partnering with the LAC back in 2008 in regards to the census, now Ancestry.com is partnering with the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society. Look toward the addition of the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society Indexes in 2013 to the Ancestry.com Canadian collections.

The Library and Archives Canada has indeed become “your gateway to Canadian’s past.” It is with pleasure and inspiration to see the several diverse communities and organizations come together to share the information in the new digital age. Enjoy the new records being released which provide an insight into diverse peoples and settlers. The information reveals a fascinating insight into Saskatchewan’s rich agricultural history and multicultural heritage. ~ Article written by J. Adamson

Further Information:

Census Information

Saskatchewan History and Ethnic Roots

1919 Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba Waghorn’s Guide

1925 Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Waghorn’s Guide

Gazetteer of U.S. and Canadian Railroads 1922

Saskatchewan Highway Map 1925

Rand McNally 1924 Indexed Pocket Map

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Maps 1924

______________________________________________________________________________

Bibliography:

Archives Canada Directory of Selected Genealogical Resources.

Canadian Census Collection 1997-2013 Ancestry.com

Censuses of Canada 1851, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916. Library and Archives Canada.

The Historical Canadian Census Collection 1851-1916 ~ Ancestry.com 1997-2013 Ancestry.com

Library and Archives Canada Partners with Ancestry.ca ~ What’s New ~ Library and Archives Canada Partnership allows unprecedented online access to Canadian historical records.
2008-11-10

Saskatchewan Gen Web Project ~ Census

What to Search Topics: Genealogy and Family History ~ Library and Archives Canada 2011-08-22.

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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 ancestor’s home town in Saskatchewan? Have you ever visited your ancestral home?

______________________________________________________________________________

Follow me on Flickr, Word Press, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, Live Journal, 500 px and Flickriver

______________________________________________________________________________

Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

______________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for stopping by, your comments are much appreciated. All rights reserved. Images copyright © Aum Kleem; Article copyright © J Adamson. 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 through Getty images. Peace and love be with you. Namaste.

______________________________________________________________________________

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:
Bibliography

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

________________________________________________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________________________________________

Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

________________________________________________________________________________

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She is Gone ~ Orchid Phalaenopsis by Julia Adamson
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Passionate Embrace ~ Pink Rose by Julia Adamson

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



for

Steamships All Aboard! on the Saskatchewan

Bibliography



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


Bibliography


Full Sized Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


________________________________________________________________________________________


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




________________________________________________________________________________________


Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver




________________________________________________________________________________




Buy my work


Passionate Embrace ~ Pink Rose by Julia Adamson (AumKleem)) on 500px.com
Passionate Embrace ~ Pink Rose by Julia Adamson

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
1870-1898.
Excerpts from pages 170-175

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

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. NewspaperArchive.com

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

Bibliography

Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan

________________________________________________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________________________________________

Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

________________________________________________________________________________

Buy my work

Delicate Beauty Phalaenopsis Orchid by Julia Adamson (AumKleem)) on 500px.com
Delicate Beauty Phalaenopsis Orchid by Julia Adamson

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!
“Labbord!—stabbord!—s-t-e-a-d-y!—so!—
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


Bibliography


Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan


________________________________________________________________________________________


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




________________________________________________________________________________________


Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver




________________________________________________________________________________




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Autumn in the Misty Morn by Julia Adamson (AumKleem)) on 500px.com
Autumn in the Misty Morn by Julia Adamson



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

Bibliography

Table of Steamships upon the Saskatchewan

________________________________________________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________________________________________

Aum_Kleem - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

________________________________________________________________________________

Buy my work

Hope Rekindled by Julia Adamson (AumKleem)) on 500px.com
Hope Rekindled by Julia Adamson

 

How did Saskatchewan Pioneers Homestead?

1 Nov
Moon Fleur ~ Luna Rose by Julia Adamson (AumKleem) on 500px.com
Moon Fleur ~ Luna Rose by Julia Adamson

How did Saskatchewan Pioneers Homestead

“Those years were hard,” the farmer said to me,
And hardened lines then deepened round his eyes,
Which narrowed like he read each memory
From chalky scrawls that streaked the prairie skies,” Byron Anderson

“The early settlers to the prairies were from Sweden, France, England, Ireland, Germany and the Ukraine,” recalled the Kelliher Historical Society in Reflections: Kelliher Jasmin District, “They came by way of the Touchwood and Carlton trails or to the end of the rails then overland until they found their particular area or homestead….These people came …on foot, by ox teams or horses on wagons, buckboards or squealing Red River carts.”

Railway, government and land agents distributed advertising encouraging immigration to and settlement of the “Last Best West“. The Canadian Government established the Dominion Lands Act / Homestead Act in 1872 similar to the United States of America’s Homestead Act of 1862 and its policy and regulations passed under President Abraham Lincoln .

Commencing July 10, 1871, the survey system established the township model granting the Canadian Pacific Railway odd numbered sections twenty four miles on either side of the rail tracks extending across the plains. The survey system expanded to the area now known as Saskatchewan in 1877. Besides railway lands, land administration set aside block settlement land grants which were made available to ethnic groups, various Land Colonization Companies, Soldier Settlement Grants, South African (Boer War) Scrip, North West Mounted Police Bounty, school lands (sections 11 and 29), and Hudson Bay lands (sections 8 and 26).

Surveyors would place survey monuments at the intersections of sections in a township grid. An immigrant after traveling for weeks across the ocean on their steamship, would disembark and travel as far west as possible via rail, then commence across the North West Territories to the prairie country where they wished to settle. First arrivals would seek soil conditions similar to their home country so that their agricultural tools and methods would provide the greatest chance of success. Later immigrants would seek lands near the first homesteader from their family or town.

To find an available quarter section to homestead, persons roamed across the grasslands searching for an iron post set approximately every mile apart set in the centre of four pits three feet square and eighteen inches deep. In the center of each section would be a wooden post demarking the quarter-section corner. Allowances  were made for roads and correction lines

Upon finding the land, the pioneer would thence travel to the land titles office to file an Application for Homestead Patent, often standing in line ups. In the first three decades of the 1900s, there were 303,000 homestead applications. However, before dry land farming techniques were established, three out of very four homesteaders failed, filed a Declaration of Abandonment and moved away.

Basically Homestead Entry for a quarter section (160 acres) of surveyed land could be had by any person who was the sole head of the family or a male reaching twenty one years of age on payment of a $10 application fee. The age was thereafter dropped in subsequent revisions to 18 and allowed provisions for younger males already head of a family. The first Dominions Lands Act of 1872 only allowed those women to receive a homestead who could prove their status as the head of the household as widows, divorcees or abandoned wives with family to support.

With this protocol of land application out of the way, the pioneer had to “Prove up the Land“. Again, the regulations changed over the years, the homestead duties of 1904 required residence upon the land, and cultivation of the land each year during the term of three years. Settlers would need to break the land, clear the land, and make improvements such as buildings and fencing.

The land would need to be first cleared of trees and rocks before the land could be tilled. Stone boats were employed behind horse, oxen or mule team to pull large rocks from the land. Stone houses, schools, fences were occasional uses of prairie fieldstones. In the 1880s and ’90s, getting access to construction materials was not easy because there were few railways and the roadways weren’t conducive to easily hauling lumber,” said construction historian “Frank Korvemaker. Trees, scarce as they were, were invaluable as winter fuel, for construction material, for tent framework or as a foundation for thatched roofs on sod houses before a log home could be constructed.  Tree roots in the field were pulled by oxen or horses.

The earliest pioneers employed hand tools to break the land. The axe, hoe, pickaxe, spade or shovel were utilised to clear and turn over the soil. Following the shovel, a hand rake was used to smooth the surface and break up clumps of soil.

The first crops to be seeded were Red Fife Wheat which needed a longer growing season than the northern Great Plains provided. In 1909 Marquis Wheat was available. Red Fife wheat crossed with Hard Red Calcutta produced Marquis wheat which matured 7-10 days earlier than Red Fife, and had a more phenomenal yield than Hard Red Calcutta. Wheat growing expanded, and farmers met with greater success in the shorter growing season.

Besides wheat, farmers also tilled alfalfa, flax, sunflower, corn for fodder, oats, and winter rye. Mixed farming ensured food for the family, a milk cow provided dairy products, chickens laid eggs, pigs and cattle were slaughtered for meat.

Before winter came, a dwelling was required to fend off the cold and blizzards. A “soddy” or sod house may be erected by cutting sod bricks with a plow into rectangles two feet long, one foot wide and between four to six inches thick which were stacked one upon the other to form the walls. Pioneers made the walls stronger by cutting central slits in the root mass, stacking the bricks alternately widthwise then lengthwise or stacking the sod bricks with a base wider than the apex of the wall. The sod walls were protected from erosion by planting ivy, or providing a covering. It would take approximately one acre (43560ft² or 4047 square meters) of sod or 2,304 bricks for the walls of a basic 12 foot by 20 foot home. Additional sod would be needed to cover the wooden poles or purlins which provided the framework for the roof unless the settler made a thatched roof from straw or rye grasses covered in clay.

If the crop survived drought, grasshopper plagues, and raging prairie fires, the harvest would need to be taken off. Hand tools were again the first implements at harvest time. A hand scythe would mow the stalks, threshing would be accomplished with a hand flail before winnowing the chaff.

Over the winter months settlers used their proceeds from the year’s crops to buy supplies, wagons, plows, and harrows. These improvements enabled the homesteader to employ a plow rather than a shovel, and a harrow in place of a rake. Different plows were required for specific soil conditions. Pulled by horse, oxen or mule team, a “single furrow plough” or a “Sulky plow” were common implements used by the farmer who walked behind. A disc harrow was used to break up the sod, whereas a chain harrow could cover seed or spread out dung. Often six to ten acres of land were all that could be broken within the 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile quarter section in the first years.

For an idea of the size of land being worked, the American football field with end zones comprises an area of about 1.3223 acres or 0.535 hectare and the Canadian football field has an area of 2.0145 acres or 0.815 hectare. A quarter section envelops 160 acres.

Sheaves were created with binders which both cut the stems of the plant, and tied the stems all gathered together with twine. Stooks were several sheaves leaning on each other allowing the seed heads to dry in the autumn. When the harvest was dry enough to store in granaries, the sheaves were threshed.

An investment in a threshing machine eliminated the laborious and time consuming task of threshing by hand with scythe and sickle. Threshing bees and steam driven threshers began dotting the prairie scene in the early 1900s.

The government and rail lines collaborated during harvest time offering low fares and high wages to encourage temporary helpers to travel west from Ontario and the Maritimes to assist with the harvest.

The next challenge was getting the grain to market. The crop taken of in 1901 sat in storage due to a huge shortage of grain rail cars. Farmers would load their hay wagons, and traveling by horse take the harvest to the nearest grain elevator. As early as 1890, there were ninety elevators in the prairie provinces. The first roads were not much more than prairie red river cart trails until Local Improvement Districts and Rural Municipalities began the task of constructing and grading roads.

Better Farming Trains were the province’s first foray into distance learning. Between 1914 and 1922, farmers could see exhibits and displays offering information and advice on agricultural and farming improvements and methods.

In the spring sod houses leaked and roofs collapsed as the piles of snow collected over the winter months began melting. So along with breaking and clearing another 6 to 12 acres of land, and sowing seeds as part of the homesteader duties, after the last frost, construction of a new roof for the home was added to the chores.

Agricultural tasks helped the homesteader fulfill the homestead duties. However, additionally the family needed to find and haul water, collect firewood, build dugouts, construct fire breaks, furnish home and barn, construct fences, make furniture and repair agricultural implements. The people needed clothing and food, the livestock needed tending and feed.

The demise of the Canadian Dominions Lands Act came about in 1930 when the federal government transferred any and all remaining lands and resources to the control of the provincial governments. The Century Farm Awards are a testament to those who succeeded at pioneer farming methods through thick and thin, and the family remained on the farm for better than one hundred years.
Pre-1930 Homestead File Series contains about 360,000 listings of those who applied for land under the terms of The Dominion Lands Act.

People arrived out west along the rail lines. Most settlements and homesteads were established alongside the rail for ease of transport, however ethnic bloc settlements were established before the arrival of rail. A random sampling of the opening up of Saskatchewan with Rail Lines:
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Balgonie in 1882
Candian Northern Railway arrived at Humboldt in 1904
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Kerrobert (previously Hartsberg) in 1910
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Melfort in 1904
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Moose Jaw in 1882
Canadian Northern Railway CnoR arrived at North Battleford in 1904
Qu;Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railway Company arrived at Saskatoon in 1890
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Swift Current in 1882
Canadian Northern Railway CnoR arrived at Tisdale in 1904
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR and Canadian National Railway CNR arrived at Warman in 1904
Manitoba and Northwestern Railway arrived at Yorkton in 1888
Canadian Pacific Railway CPR arrived at Yorkton in 1891

“…Pioneers, who had taken up their homesteads in a spirit of hope and determination that, by years of hard work ahead,… the land that they were breaking and bringing into cultivation could be developed into productive farms,” said the Aberdeen Historical Society in Aberdeen 1907-1981, “Faith in the power of the soil to yield good crops of grain and hope for future prosperity were key words”
Further Information:
Saskatchewan Homestead Index Project SHIP

Western Land Grants (1870-1930)

Homestead Maps

Saskatchewan Homestead Records

Sources:

Click on an embedded link for further information.

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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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The Debate Regarding Saskatchewan Consolidated Schools

30 Sep

Viburnum Trilobum ~ High Bush Cranberry ~ Explore

The Debate Regarding Saskatchewan Consolidated Schools

Wherever there were ten school aged children within a 36 square mile area, early Saskatchewan pioneers and homesteaders could apply for a One Room Schoolhouse District. The little white schoolhouse soon began dotting the prairie landscape, and along with it came a host of attendant responsibilities. Communities elected school trustees to apply to the provincial government and the rural municipality for funding towards schoolhouse, teacherage and barn construction costs, teacher, secretary salary. A teacher was required along with support structure of water, books, maps, desks, stove and heating fuel.

Rural farmers or homesteaders were faced with the challenge of proving up their homestead which necessitate that the new settler must build a residence, live on the land for three years, make improvements and break a minimum of fifteen acres. Times were hard, money was scarce, community residents could pay taxes or supply a couple days per quarter section labour constructing much needed roads, bridges, and fireguards in lieu of paying taxes. However, it was the taxes which kept the one room schoolhouse operational and paid the school teacher‘s salary.

The prairie school system began in 1884 with four established school districts Moose Jaw #1, Qu’Appelle #2, Prince Albert #3, and Regina #4. By 1913 in the province of Saskatchewan alone, there were 3,214 school districts, 15 Roman Catholic Separate Schools and two Protestant Separate School Districts.

Dr. Harold W. Foght, reported in A Survey of Education 1918 that Saskatchewan had 3,608 school districts operating in 1916 under 4,279 teachers, with another 406 school districts which had been organised. “By the early 1930s, Saskatchewan possessed 4,371 rural schools…These schools were administered by 4,371 autonomous school boards, composed of 13,113 duly elected trustees, 4,371 paid secretaries, and a retinue of odd jobs people, who kept the school clean, hauled and cut wood for the classroom’s pot bellied stove, and supplied water to schools which were without their own wells ~ that is, where these chores were not part of the teacher’s duties,” reported Robert Tyre page 3 in Tales out of School ~ The Little Red Schoolhouse.

To maintain a one room schoolhouse in 1915 ratepayers were apportioned taxes based upon the number of students attending school which covered half the teacher’s salary. The remaining portion of the salary was collected from taxes based on a fixed rate per quarter section of land in the school district area. On average a resident may pay between $17.00 to $23.00.

Teachers during this era may receive $20 ro $30 per teaching month along with housing and the lower salary supplemented with farm goods. Teacher’s were expected to work out or farm when school was not in operation.

“There are too many School Districts with summer schools only, a scarcity of duly qualified teachers to man the existing districts and the new ones daily created, …four-fifths of Saskatchewan’s school children are denied the advantages of an education which town and city people can and do enjoy,” reported Arthur A. Frye on interviewing a rural school teacher. The system of non-education set in place in 1915 was considered more expensive than Consolidated Schools with qualified teachers.

Even though legislation was passed in Saskatchewan as early as 1920 had passed legislation in favour of consolidated schools, but as Sir Frederick Haultain, chief justice of Saskatchewan and chancellor of the Saskatchewan University, pointed out that Saskatchewan’s small population did not support such provision.

Mr. Morris secretary-treasurer of the Ontario School Trustees’ Association felt that consolidated schools in Ontario, of which there were 16 in 1922 would be more successful in that province. Saskatchewan being more sparsely populated would face higher operation costs.

Premier W.M. Martin, Saskatchewan’s minister of education in 1921 spoke of the costs to maintain both the consolidated schools and the transportation costs. “The law calls for the province to provide one-third of the cost of conveying the children to school in the consolidated districts. If all the districts in the province were to consolidate, I do not know where we would get the money to pay the costs. Earlier, Martin mentioned that Saskatchewan had about 4,500 schools in the province. The rate of taxation is at $40 to $75 a section to maintain a consolidated school.

It was in 1939, that Mr. Justice W.M. Martin leading a commission on Education advised that a fair and equitable salary for teachers. Schools were managed jointly by the provincial government authority and locally by the school district, and during this time the government was finding it difficult to collect taxes to pay for the schools, and the school district, as well was hard pressed to raise funds. A new system for collection of school taxes wax implemented in 1939 which helped to impose a minimum wage of $700 for teachers. Rural districts reviewed their taxation rate to raise the operational costs of $950 for a one room schoolhouse.

Problems arose in 1946 trying to transport children to consolidated schools over roads which could not be cleared of snow due to a lack of equipment.

Rural municipality borders should be set before those of the consolidated school units to ensure more uniform tax rates collected by RMs advised J.M. Wheatley of Chancellor, AB president of the Alberta Union of Municipal Districts addressing the 1946 Rural Municipalities Association delegation.

The provincial government underwent a crisis in logistical coordination of local government services stated J.H. Brockelbank, Resources Minister in 1956.
Larger school units meet with on average ten RMs up to as many as 17 to coordinate planning of road systems. The RM may itself be divided by larger school units, and collect taxes for two, three or four school units along with any rural consolidated schools not within the larger school unit and any remaining one room school districts. This means that the rural municipality council must collaborate with up to four larger school unit boards to collect taxes and plan the needed road programs. Province wide in 1956 there were 300 school districts, 29 consolidated school districts, and 56 larger school units coordinating with 296 rural municipalities, 370 towns, 98 villages, and eight cities.

Historically, in 1916 each rural municipality had dealt with on average about fifteen one room schoolhouse districts.

The evolution from the one room schoolhouse to consolidated schools was made possible by

  1. Improvements in transportation as society shifted from horse and cart upon Red River Cart trails to automotive transport on asphalt roads and highways.
  2. A shift from rural areas to urban regional centres during the “Dirty Thirties”.
  3. Emergence of the larger farm and improved wheat yields due to new machinery fueling the growth of urban service centres.
  4. A need to downsize the number of school organizational units to reduce financial costs and to eliminate duplication of administration services which could be amalgamated.<
  5. Declining enrolment in rural one room schoolhouses resulted in school closures as early as July 26, 1944. Any schools which had less than 15 students enrolled were closed in an effort to relieve the shortage of teachers according to The Calgary Herald.
  6. A restructuring of the taxation system.

Jointly these were the main factors which enabled the shift from thousands of rural one room school houses to the “modern” consolidated school unit and transportation system.

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”~G. K. Chesterson

Further Reading

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Visiting your ancestor’s homestead.

3 May

Blossom by Blossom the spring begins

Visiting your ancestor’s homestead.

 

So you have heard that it is delightful to connect with ancestral history and become acquainted with their workplace and living conditions. It is great to experience that area where they walked and homesteaded, and imagine the customs and language of the settlement, what would have been the hard times, and what would have made the joyous times.

It is wise to make a few preliminary preparations before setting sail on your journey and adventure. Contact the local genealogy society, and library, make enquiries at the regional town office and museum. Send a letter of introduction to the reserve head office if your ancestors were part of a First Nations Indian band.

Locate the community church and see if there are any records which can help place branches onto a family tree. Remember to locate the cemetery where your ancestors may be interred on a regional map. Find out the size of your ancestral family on an historic census and imagine the lifestyle in a sodhouse or log cabin.

Post your queries on a genealogy query board and mailing list for the area, and you may get lucky and have a long lost cousin meet you at the airport.

Delve into resources at the National Library and Archives and find out if they served overseas in a war effort which may mean a memorial is standing in the hometown. Look up Metis scrip records or Dominion land grants to help determine place of residence. Read the local history / family biography book to determine which buildings, and places of interest are the same as those your ancestor saw, and which have been designated as historical sites.

Discover the one room schoolhouse which your ancestor attended and visit a museum or restored schoolhouse to see what childhood education was like. See if the building is still standing, or if the history of the school district is commemorated with a heritage marker.

Visiting the local museum will shed light on the lifestyle that your ancestor had. The agricultural implements and tools evolved greatly through the late 1800s to early 1900s. The home furnishings and housekeeping utensils also varied depending on the era.

The contacts you make and information you glean before setting out will be invaluable and provide an amazing vacation, perhaps even the best you ever had as you walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Compiled by Sask Gen Webmaster Julia Adamson. ©

Just a little fun by Aum Kleem (AumKleem) on 500px.com
Just a little fun by Aum Kleem______________________________________________________________________________

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?

______________________________________________________________________________

Image: Blossom by Blossom the spring begins

Thank you for stopping by, your comments are much appreciated. 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. Namaste.

______________________________________________________________________________

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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