| May/June 1973

Curator, Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Readers of the Iron-Men Album may recall that in the April-May issue of the Album for 1972 we were happy to record the building of a new Western Development Museum at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The ten year old dream has now come true and the interior of the new building has been worked over since the spring of 1972.

The first combined Threshermen's Reunion at the new site was in operation from Monday, July 10 to Saturday, July 15 inclusive. It was an unqualified success and will be staged this year from Monday, July 9 to Saturday, July 14 inclusive. To use an old time phrase it will be bigger and better than ever. This will be an all inclusive giant get-together of old time, and young time, engine men and will be worth while coming a long way to see and to share and take part in. This year will mark almost twenty years of Threshermen's doings at Saskatoon. Since 1954 there have been many changes, but one thing has not changed. The old time cordial homestead atmosphere has still been retained. The members of the Threshermen's club and Museum staff take real pride in keeping the frontier homestead spirit alive and working.

A prospective visitor might well ask what does the new million dollar Western Development Museum consist of. The city of Saskatoon now has a Museum that is 300 by 400 feet in size. It is located on Exhibition Park on the east bank of the historic South Saskatchewan River and the site comprises some 15 acres all told. Of this 3 acres is under cover, all under one roof big enough for 3 football fields. The complete building is kept at a comfortable temperature making for all year round displays.

The central theme of the Museum is a village street of the 1910 homestead period in Saskatchewan. This is typical of the early days during the last great land rush on the North American Continent. At that time hundreds of new towns were springing up on the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, each one with ambitions to become a future Chicago. Many of these, it might be mentioned in passing, are now dying on the stem, victims of the modern all weather highway system and speedier transportation. But such is progress.

No more fitting way to commemorate the homestead days in Saskatchewan could be conceived than the pioneer village street portrayed at the Saskatoon Museum. 25 buildings comprise the street, with a hotel veranda at one end and, what was the one and only life line of any homestead community in the early days, the railway station at the far end. In early January of 1972 the street was nothing more than a vision in the minds of the Museum Board and staff. Three months later, under a winter works incentive program, employing over fifty men, 25 buildings were in place with wooden sidewalks echoing to the tread of happy visitors. Such was the speed of the building program that it was thought, appropriately enough, to name the village BOOMTOWN. So real is the re-creation that one visitor said that at any minute she expected to hear the clip clop of horses feet and to hear a Salvation Army Band tootling away on the corner.