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Rural Municipalities of Saskatchewan

16 May

Rural Municipalities of Saskatchewan

A rural municipality (RM) is a type of incorporated municipality in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The purpose of municipalities is to ensure that services and facilities are made available to maintain safety, and implement the economic, social, and environmental improvements considered necessary and desired by the community at large. A rural municipality is created by the Minister of Municipal Relations by ministerial order via section 49 of The Municipalities Act. The Municipalities Act (MA) oversees the legislation pertaining to rural municipalities as well as towns, villages and resort villages. Northern Municipalities are regulated under The Northern Municipalities Act, and city legislation falls under The Cities Act. That being said, local governments are also cognizant of The Line Fence Act, The Local Government Election Act, The Noxious Weed Act, The Planning and Development Act, The Stray Animals Act, The Tax Enforcement Act as well as other statutes and acts.

“Good leaders value change, they accomplish a desired change that gets the organization and society better.”
~ Anyaele Sam Chiyson

A rural municipality, often abbreviated RM, is a form of municipality in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, perhaps best comparable to counties or townships in the western United States. Unlike most counties in the United States or Canada, rural municipalities specifically exclude designated official cities, towns, villages, and First Nations Indian reserves from their territory. They are essentially the rural portion of what would normally be a county. In this way, they could perhaps best be compared to certain counties in the state of Virginia, United States, that have independent cities excluded from their territory, although, in Virginia there is usually only one independent city per county, whereas there can be many officially excluded communities in the geographical territory of rural municipalities.

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
John F. Kennedy


Where a city structure may consist of a mayor and councillor for each ward, a reeve is the local official elected to oversee the discharge duties in relation to the municipality as the chief magistrate. Councillors are members of the municipal legislative body and hold the rank of chief officer for the council representing their district. Councillors are elected to represent the interests and well being of the residents in their division developing, planning and ensuring that policies, programs and services are in place for the municipality. The strength of the policies, bylaws, and decisions made by the council define the direction of the municipality. Council works hand in hand with residents thinking about and identifying the needs of the community from which remarkable actions are able to take shape.

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”~ Terry Pratchett

The Municipal Ordinance of 1883 was enacted by the North-West Territories to provide services to a rural area and provide some means of municipal governing. Saskatchewan and Alberta became provinces in 1905. North West Territorial Government issues Statute Labour Ordinance (1897) and sets of Fire Districts, Statute Labour and Fire (SLF) Districts or Statute Labour Districts. Community residents could pay taxes or supply a couple days per quarter section labour constructing roads, bridges, fireguards instead of paying taxes. The prairie fires in the 19th century were devastating affairs with flames raging across the wide open plains miles and miles across burning everything in its path. As the Big Beaver Historical Society point out, “in the late 1800;s and early 1900’s, after the buffalo vanished from the prairies, and before it was populated with cattle, there was a tremendous growth of grass on the prairies which made good fuel for fires.” Igniting from the spark of the steam engine along the rail line, lightning, or accident, fires grew to hundreds of miles in length, and burned for weeks on end. In the early pioneering days, it often took a river or a rainy spell to extinguish the tremendous flames. Along with great loss to the region, buildings, “Prairie Wool” (the winter feed needed to feed the livestock) of course also lives of animals and livestock, and the very population, the settler’s lives were endangered. One fire of the early 1900s is the huge prairie fire that began near Swift Current Creek, and carried on to Moose Jaw (a distance of about 177 km or 110 miles). Another fire burned for several days, starting at the east shore of Last Mountain Lake (Long Lake), and carrying on, burned everything around the lake. The lake is about 93 km (58 miles) in length, and 3 km (two miles) in width to show the terrific extent of the blaze. Prairie fires were a menace to the early settlers. A good fire guard was necessary to protect homesteads in an era where there was no means of communicating to the residents of the imminent danger approaching. However even an excellent fire guard sometimes cannot sway the path of the towering inferno. The prairie fire of 1894 began near Silton, soared across Boggy Creek within an hour and soon carried over the Qu’Appelle River, two natural fire guards unable to diminish the course of the blaze. Residents within the Fire Districts came together to plough several furrows at a 45 degree angle to the wind direction hoping to narrow the fire and re-direct the aim of the devastation. Another technique used was to start a small back fire which was very small in size, and could be controlled. The theory was to remove fuel from the uncontrollable blaze thus creating a fire guard with a burned patch of land. If the fire was coming straight on to the home, settlers would drape themselves in water soaked blankets and thus covered up, lay down upon the field till the blaze had passed

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“Safety is not an intellectual exercise to keep us in work. It is a matter of life and death. It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die” ~Sir Brian Appleton after Piper Alpha

The mail route, and post offices were often the early founders of the community followed by churches, schools and stores. The early one room schools became community centres featuring picnics, fairs, and a number of community gatherings. These schools also provided classes to newcomers who wished to learn to speak English.

“Politics isn’t about big money or power games; it’s about the improvement of people’s lives.”
Paul Wellstone


The early years saw immigrant homesteaders arriving who were coming to the “Last Best West” in search of land. After travelling for days aboard a steamer, and arriving at an Eastern Canadian or American port, the journey continued to the rail’s end. These early travellers would then continue by ox and cart, horse and wagon or by foot to locate a surveyor’s stake that defined the land they wished to lay claim to. They would then seek out the nearest provincial land titles agency for application forms. These first settlers were settled sparsely about the rural countryside and needed to erect a shelter and set up housekeeping with those sundry supplies they had brought with them. These early homes were “soddies” homes made from breaking the prairie turf and piling the sod for walls. Roofs were made of timber poles for framework, upon which more sod was laid. Once enough logs were cut, the sod homes were replaced by log houses.


“With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens,~A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”~Thomas Jefferson

Fire districts were later called Local Improvement Districts (1898), typically called LID, were the precursors of Rural Municipalities. December 13, 1909 saw the beginning of the discontinuance of Local improvement districts in favour of smaller rural municipal areas. LID were instrumental at improving the community, honouring those killed in action with the erection of War Memorial Cairns, establishing a suitable site for cemeteries and seeking adequate health care and the necessary hospital facilities where possible. In the early 1900s it was necessary for the councillors to seek a doctor’s services to traverse the area ministering to the sick. The Spanish Flue epidemic hit communities hard. Many were sick, and anyone who was well, were taking care of those stricken with the illness, making coffins, burying the dead, and doing chores for families fallen to the flu. When the rail line came through, if the rail was laid down outside of town, the settlers came together to move the buildings from the first settlement three or four miles away to be placed astride the new transportation route. Old Nipawin picked up and moved their settlement. Settlers who came to the Parkside area, moved their businesses to Willis, when the rail came through. The movement to the rails caused the name of Willis to adopt the new name of Parkside, and the original Parkside location some four miles south and one mile west of the rails changed its name to Honeywood to avoid confusion.*

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
Benjamin Franklin

One of the first tasks was the construction of roads which took place with horse graders, horse drawn slips and wheel scrapers, replacing prairie trails. Spring floods would defeat previous efforts, washing away the roads laid the summer before. Bridges were erected across steams, and ferry systems established across rivers. These early roads were a slow time consuming construction process up until the mid twentieth century when the provincial government brought into place the grid road system.

“The world is a place of constant change. If we are open and ready to consider everything while remaining unbiased, we will be ready to accept these changes and utilize them to improve our lives.”~Daniel Willey


Typically, an RM consists of about nine townships, each six miles by six miles in area. Settled areas of denser populations could form urban municipalities with a village, town or city governance. Further improvements came to the rural municipalities in the form of consolidated schools replacing the one room schoolhouse, telephone lines came in the early 1900s, electrical power lines were installed in the 1950s, followed by the installation of farm water and sewer. The councillors were required to provide ensure an adequate water supply and improve recreational facilities. Early streets were gravelled, street lights installed, trees planted in parks and in the community, community rinks, ball diamonds, horse race tracks and arenas were typical improvements to the rural areas. Farmers welcomed irrigation which arrived following world war two, an improvement made available by Prairie Farm Assistance, Federal Government grants, and the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture supplements.

A municipal council consists of seven men
Who solve many problems of what, where and when
They decide how much your taxes will be
What roads will be built, what gravel you’ll see
The budgets allows for only so much
A bit here and there and for such and such.
!Memories and musings : book II Leonard Loppe

Municipal councils are afforded political powers having corporate status incorporated to govern a territory. The rural areas are in need of core infrastructure and essential services including, animal control, building codes, crime prevention, emergency measures organisation, fire prevention, garbage removal, land planning, recreational facilities, and program implementation, roads and transport, snow and ice removal, water and sewer treatment facilities. Council has within its authority the ability to decide if a day or a portion of a day is a civic holiday.
North of the tree line in northern Saskatchewan the large Northern Local Improvement District was replaced by the Department of Northern Saskatchewan in 1972 and was not subdivided into smaller Rural Municipalities.

“The thing is, continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing”.
Michael Porter


Old Post, Saskatchewan is the largest Rural Municipality encompassing 1,757.00 square kilometers in area and it was formed from the last Local Improvement District. Saskatchewan’s largest and smallest rural municipalities in terms of population are the RM of Corman Park No. 344 and the RM of Glen McPherson No. 46 with populations of 8,354 and 73 respectively. There are currently close to 300 rural municipalities serving in Saskatchewan ranging in number from Argyle No. 1 to Beaver River No. 622.

“Improving your life doesn’t have to be about changing everything ~it’s about making changes that count.”
~Oprah Winfrey

Bibliography:
13 ways to kill a community Doug Griffiths. Saskatchewan South East Enterprise Region. 2014 SSEER.

From buffalo grass to wheat : a history of Long Lake district

Shiels, Leonard A.

The golden jubilee of the Nipawin rural municipality, no.487 : 1913-1963
Allan, Gladys Lillian Lamb, Allan, Billie Lamb. Publication information Codete, Saskatchewan: s.n., 1964

Happy Valley happenings : Big Beaver and district

Big Beaver Historical Society

History of Rural Municipality of Excelsior No. 166 : 1910-1967 Charles Lee. Publication information Saskatchewan: R.M. of Excelsior, 1967

List of Rural Municipalities in Saskatchewan

Memories and musings : book II Leonard Loppe. c2002

Municipal Relations Home/About Municipal Relations/Municipal Administration/Elections-General/Understanding the Role, Time Commitment and Powers of Municipal Council Government of Saskatchewan.

Reflections of the Past. History of Parkside and the Districts of Bygland, Cameo, Hilldrop, Honeywood, Ordale and Spruce Glen. Compiled and published by Parkside and District History Book Committee. c1991.page 626.

Municipal Council Member Handbook Government of Saskatchewan Advisory Services and
Municipal Relations Branch. March 2012

Rural Municipality Wikipedia

Rural Municipal Administrators’ Association (RMAA)

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM)

Urban Municipal Administrators Association of Saskatchewan (UMAAS)

“The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.”
Ralph Marston


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Notice and Disclaimer:

The purpose of the information on this site is to assist genealogists, historians and other interested parties in locating information regarding Saskatchewan rural muncipalities. Please e-mail saskgenweb@yahoo.com if you have any further updates or additions. Thank you.




To cite this article:

Adamson, Julia. Rural Municipalities of Saskatchewan Name Mergers and Name Changes. . Saskatchewan Gen Web. Rootsweb. Ancestry.com . Retrieved .

E-mail saskgenweb@yahoo.com


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Naval Monument honours prairie Royal Canadian Navy seamen and ships H.M.C.S. Regina (K234) and H.M.C.S. Weyburn (K 173)

26 Sep

Naval Monument honours Royal Canadian Navy prairie seamen and RCN ships
H.M.C.S. Regina (K234) and H.M.C.S. Weyburn (K 173)

John Thompson RCNVR (V 34087), a cook aboard the HMCS Regina aged 24 son of Robert Parker Thompson and Helena Thompson, of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan was one of the naval seamen honoured on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at an unveiling ceremony held on Navy Way in Regina, Saskatchewan in front of the HMCS Queen naval reserve unit.

The Friends of the Navy have honoured Royal Canadian Navy sailors who hail from Saskatchewan, particularly those who fell in World War II. The new Saskatchewan Naval monument honours the naval ships, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Weyburn and the HMCS Regina who were both lost in World War II. The HMCS Weyburn on the 67th anniversary of its sinking was commemorated earlier during the centennial year of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010. Royal Canadian Navy ships paid tribute to dozens Saskatchewan Communities in their naming including the HMCS Waskesiu and the HMCS Estevan.

The HMCS Weyburn (K 173), the namesake for the city of Weyburn was a flower class corvette mainly serving in the Battle of the Atlantic. This smaller ship was needed as an escort ship and equipped by minesweeping gear. However, on February 32, 1943 at 11:17 a.m., the Weyburn struck a large SSMA (Sonder Mine A) magnetic mine laid by German U-boat U-118. The mine, new technology for the time, could be laid as deep as 350 meters, and the Weyburn taken three weeks after the charge was laid was one of the first victims. Though HMS Wivern assisted Weyburn after the initial explosion, two depth charges exploded, everyone in the water, and crew members of the Wivern were killed or severely injured. Of the 83 officers and men aboard the Weyburn 12 died and there were 71 survivors.

The HMCS Regina (K 234), was another Saskatchewan namesake for the province’s capital city, Regina. HMCS Regina, was a flower-class corvette also engaged in escort duties in the Second World War. The American Liberty Ship, the Ezra Weston was a cargo ship carrying war material to the theatre of war. The Ezra Weston took a torpedo from the U-667. Her only escort was the HMCS Regina who was under the impression that the merchant ship had fallen to a mine. Therefore the Regina turned to assist the flailing ship and pick up survivors. The U-boat then also fired on the corvette. Within 30 seconds on August 8, 1944 at 9:27 p.m., one officer and 27 men fell.

Robert Watkins, a prairie sailor out of Winnipeg, sums it up this way, “during the war, the one thing he was scared of was the submarines, if the supply lines from Canada and the U.S. had dried up on account of the submarines, Britain would have gone under.”

Alongside John Thompson, Douglas Peter Robertson RCNVR (V 11460) son of Robert Angus Robertson and Elizabeth Jane Robertson, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan aged 26 fell August 8, 1944 in his capacity as Petty Officer Stoker aboard the HMCS Regina. As well, John Charles Henry Rathbone RCNVR (V 34478), son of John and Florence Rathbone, of Regina, Saskatchewan, aged 27 who took on the duties of supply assistant did not survive his wounds incurred that fatal evening. These three Saskatchewan prairie naval reservists lost their lives along with their crew mates, British and Canadian Navy sailors.

The Fall Action Stations magazine reports that, “exactly how many Saskatchewanians served in the RCN during the war is hard to estimate as many volunteered at recruiting offices outside the province, and vice versa. And due to wartime staffing pressures, sailors from a particular city or town rarely served on the ship bearing its name.”

For instance, Joseph McGrath, V/11616, son of Margaret McGrath of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, serving with the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve aboard the HMCS Athabaskan was one of those honoured in the commemorative naming program of the Saskatchewan Geographic Names Board with the naming of McGrath Lake in Saskatchewan.

Natural geographic features across Saskatchewan honour armed forces personnel and merchant sailors from the Second World War and the Korean War, and also those who fell during peacekeeping or NATO missions, or while protecting the public while on active duty such as police officers, firefighters, and Emergency Response Personnel.

The Naval Memorial erected at a cost of about $30,00 honours was spear-headed by Doug Archer, Chairman of the Friends of the Navy, and Steve Smedley. There are over 6,000 war memorials in Canada remembering those who fought with courage. Saskatoon’s Next of Kin Memorial Avenue in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is a national historic site. Both the Regina Cemetery and the North Battleford Cemetery are homes to two of the 28 Crosses of Sacrifice. Alongside these memorials, the Royal Canadian Legion branches and towns across Saskatchewan have erected monuments and cenotaphs honouring those who fell in military service from their community.

Quoting Lieutenant James Balfour, himself a prairie seaman, serving in the naval reserve stemmed from “the belief that there are things that are more important than just you as an individual, it’s about serving your country and doing something for the good of others.”

Terrence McEachern of The Leader Post quoted Doug Archer, former mayor of Regina, “We are so truly blessed that others have gone before us to preserve our freedom and our democracy. We need to honour them and never forget the contribution they’ve made.”

~Article written by Julia Adamson

Bibliography

Adamson, Julia. Commander Harold Wilson Balfour OBE VD RCNVR Recognized for Outstanding Civic Service and Meritorious Military Achievement. H.W. Balfour’s Truly Impressive Career.

CMHC 200 National Defence. Canadian Military History Since the 17th Century Proceedings of the Canadian Military History Coinvernce Ottawa 5-9 May 2000. Edited by Yves Tremblay. National Defence 2001.

CWGC Works 2007 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Canada) .

Crewlist from HMCS Weyburn ( 173) Canadian Corvette) Ships hit by German U-=boats Uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

Crewlist from HMCS Regina 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

Falloon, Dan.Veteran hoping to commemorate fellow sailors. 04 24 2013. Winnipeg Free Press.

For Posterity’s Sake Canadian Genealogy HMCS Weyburn K173 Corvette Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K 234) of the Royal Canadian Navy – Canadian Corvette of the Flower class – Allied warships of WWII uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K 234) Canadian K 234) (Canadian Corvette) ships hit by German U boats during WWII 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K234) Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia

HMCS Weyburn (K173) (Canadian Corvette) Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII uboat.net 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Weyburn (K173) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. id version =571908407.

Home/About Government/News Releases/November 2006/New Commemorative Naming Program to Recognize Saskatchewan Heroes. Government of Saskatchewan. c/o Grant Bastedo. Information Services Corporation of Saskatchewan ISC

JosephMcGrath – The Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Records and Collections. Veteran’s Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. 2013-07-29.

Liberty Ship. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. id version=572158310

Mceachern, Terrence. Monument honours Navy seamen from Sask The Leader-Post, republished The StarPhoenix. September 23, 2013. 2010 – 2013 Postmedia Network Inc.

Naval Memorial Installation. Friends of the Navy.

Naval Monument Planned for Regina. From the files of Will Chabun, Leader Post, Regina. Memorial Honours RCN War Hero. 2012 Fall Action Stations. Volume 30 Issue 5 HMCS Sackville Newsletter.

Christianson, Adriana. Navy Reservists in Regina Commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic. May 6, 2013. New Saskatchewan Naval Monument. 620 CKRM the Source. Harvard Broadcasting Radio Stations September 23, 2013.

Remembrance Day Tribute. Let us remember those who served in the wars of yesterday and today. November 12, 2010.

Travel Article: Lest We Forget: Outstanding Canadian War Memorials / 1994-2013 World Web Technologies Inc.

Volume 2 Part 1 Extant Commissioned Ships. HMCS Regina. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. DHH Home. Histories. 2006-07-07. Government of Canada.

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For More Information:

•Saskatchewan Gen Web Military Resources

•Canada In Flanders – The Official Story of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Volume I

•Saskatchewan Gen Web E-Magazine

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Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

Michelle Lang. Canadian Journalist. Jan 31, 1975-Dec 30, 2009. Afghanistan Casualty.

Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial Site Updated

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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Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Churches ~ Online Parish Registers ~ History

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

Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Churches ~ Online Parish Registers ~ History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index

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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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