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Exploring the Past in Saskatchewan

Archaeology and History Sites in Saskatchewan

Addison Sod House

The Addison Sod House near Saskatchewan’s border with Alberta is a rare surviving example of a Canadian turf house. It was built between 1909 and 1911 by the carpenter Jim Addison as a residence for him and his family on their prairie farmstead. A garden surrounds the sod house. Since 2003, the government have classified it as a National Historic Site for its importance as a reminder of a forgotten page in architectural history.

Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre

Located in Herschel, the Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre opened in 1994. It explores the archaeology and the palaeontology of the local area, which includes a longstanding ceremonial site within the Coalmine Ravine. Archaeological features here include a buffalo jump and processing area as well as a range of stone circles and three petroglyphs carved into the limestone. A range of sculptures and paintings help inform visitors about the heritage of this site.

Batoche National Historic Site

The Batoche National Historic Site marks the location of a Métis settlement on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Amid the North-West Rebellion, in which Métis communities clashed against the Canadian government, the Battle of Batoche took place here in 1885. Today, costumed reenactors populate a range of reconstructed buildings, while an interpretive centre helps inform visitors more about the rich heritage of the site.

Doukhobor Dugout House

The Doukhobor Dugout House reflects a rare survival of a style of architecture brought to western Canada by Russian migrants in the late 19th century. Members of the Russian Doukhobor sect settled in the Blaine Lake area at the turn of the century and here built one of the dugout-style houses that they had previously used in the Caucuses. It remained in use until 1904 when its inhabitants moved into log houses.

Fort Carlton

Located on the North Saskatchewan River, Fort Carlton was used by the Hudson Bay Company between 1795 and 1885. Over the course of that time it was rebuilt twice. At that point the fort was destroyed amid conflicts between the Canadian government and Metis communities. In 1976 the government classified Fort Carlton as a National Historic Site. Today, much of the site has been reconstructed, allowing visitors a better appreciation of 19th century life.

Fort Walsh

Fort Walsh in Maple Creek started life in 1875, taking its name from James Morrow Walsh, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) inspector who oversaw its construction. The creation of the fort followed on from the events of the Cypress Hills Massacre of 1873 and the government’s subsequent decision to bolster the NWMP to help keep law and order in the western provinces. During the 1940s the fort was reconstructed, resulting in its present appearance.

Government House

Completed in 1889, Government House in Regina replaced an earlier timber building used for the purposes of local government. It remained the home and office of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan province until 1945, after which it served as a convalescent home and then an adult education centre. Transformed into a heritage attraction in 1980, the house is currently decorated to appear as it would in the 1890s and 1900s.

Gray Burial Site

Located near the town of Swift Current, the Gray Burial Site is home to a range of prehistoric inhumations placed there in the third millennium BCE. As one of very few known cemeteries dating from this period in Canada, the government has classified it as a National Historic Site since 1973. Excavation has revealed that at least 150 individuals were buried here, on the slope of a hill surrounded by prairie.

Motherwell Homestead

Built in 1882, Motherwell Homestead near Abernethy takes its name from William Richard Motherwell, the farmer who lived there. He was a prominent local figure, known for promoting new technological developments in architecture, and eventually became Saskatchewan’s first minister of agriculture. The homestead has been a National Historic Site since 1966 and is now renovated to appear as it did in the 1900s. Reenactors in period costume contribute to the immersive experience.

Wanuskewin

Wanuskewin marks an area of land where there is evidence for human habitation over a span of 6000 years. In recent centuries, there are records of Plains Natives moving through the area in pursuit of bison while in the early 20th century European homesteaders moved in. Since 1987 it has been a National Historic Site and since 1992 there has been an interpretive center here, showcasing a range of exhibitions by indigenous artists.

Museums in Saskatchewan

Kindersley and District Plains Museum

Located in the eponymous town, the Kindersley and District Plains Museum is devoted to the culture and heritage of this area of western Saskatchewan. As well as exploring local history, the museum includes an eclectic collection of material, from toy cars through to clothing and old newspapers. Of particular note is its collection of carved wooden models by local artist Glen Sitter. Recommended for those with a keen interest in the heritage of this area.

Notukeu Heritage Museum

The Notukeu Heritage Museum in Ponteix has an interesting collection of both archaeological and palaeontological material that has been recovered in the local area. Beginning as the private collection of local man Henri Liboiron, who began putting it together in the 1980s, it was put on display for the public in 1994. Home to a rich array of prehistoric lithics, it boasts the largest collection of stone arrowheads in western Canada.

Royal Saskatchewan Museum

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum is spread across two locations. That at Regina, the museum’s original base, was launched in 1906, making it the province’s oldest museum. It moved to its current premises in the 1950s and adopted the ‘Royal’ appellation in the 1990s. As well as its palaeontological and natural history collections, it features dioramas and other displays focusing on Saskatchewan’s First Nations communities. Various special events take place throughout the year.

Rusty Relics Museum

The Rusty Relics Museum in Carlyle can be found within the town’s own railway station. Its collection brings together an eclectic range of antiques, largely donated by people in the local area, ranging from cameras to equestrian gear and from a piano to a wedding dress. The exterior operates as an open-air museum, bringing together a range of historic vehicles and other equipment once used both on the railways and for agricultural purposes.

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre

The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre is devoted to preserving and showcasing the culture and heritage of the First Nations communities of the province. Open since 1972, the centre includes museum displays exploring the lives and history of these indigenous peoples and also draws attention to the civil rights struggles that these communities have undergone over the past few centuries. A varied calendar of events take place at the centre throughout the year.

Western Development Museum, North Battleford

The Western Development Museum is spread over four locations in Saskatchewan, each with its own particular focus. That at North Battleford operates as an open-air museum, recreating the feel of a small Saskatchewan town with a range of structures assembled from across the province, including a railway station, shops, domestic dwellings, a petrol garage, and a church. One of its unusual features is a grain elevator formerly owned by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool company.

S.W. Saskatchewan Oldtimers’ Museum and Archive

Established in 1926, the S.W. Saskatchewan Oldtimers’ Museum and Archive can be found in Maple Creek. It occupies a timber structure built in 1935 – probably the oldest purpose-built museum in Saskatchewan. Its focus is on the pioneer period of local history, when European settlers were heading west to build homesteads and establish many of the settlements where today’s Saskatchewanians live. Displays also cover local events such as the Cypress Hills Massacre.

Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum

Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum started life as an automobile museum but eventually grew to focus on the preservation of a range of historic buildings from the area which were moved to this location. Its collection now includes a school, a church, and a railway station, but at the heart of its display is the Sukanen Ship, built by the Finnish homesteader Tom Sukanen in the home of sailing back across the Atlantic.

Ukrainian Museum of Canada

The Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon delves into the rich heritage of the Ukrainian migrant community who settled in this area of southern Canada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among its collection is a rich array of traditional costumes, painted eggs, and photographs. A great place to learn more about the contribution of Ukrainian Canadians to the development of modern Canada.

Whitewood Historical Museum

This small, privately owned museum focuses on the heritage of Whitewood, a small town in southern Saskatchewan. As well as a collection of local artefacts from the 19th and 20th century, it also preserves several historic buildings. An interesting place for those interested in the history of small Prairie communities. The museum also hosts an archive for researchers interested in pursuing local history or genealogy.

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