The Western Development Museums in Saskatchewan, the Museums in the North, are happy to report to the readers of the Iron Men Album another year of great activity and progress. It is most encouraging to note the great interest being shown by the general public and all forms of government, and the business fraternity, in the efforts being made to preserve the story and the machines and tools of the pioneer days. In this endeavor the Western Development Museums in Saskatchewan have played a leading and helpful part.
As recently as one hundred years ago the former buffalo ranges of Saskatchewan were unpeopled and unpoliced. Today all land in our province is raising either grain or live stock. The main settlement of Saskatchewan did not really get into full swing until around the year 1900. This vast and interesting change took place in less that a man's lifetime and some people are still around who saw this transformation.
The Western Development Museum at Saskatoon has now settled into its new million and a half dollar building. It comprises three acres, all under one roof, big enough for three football fields, kept at an even temperature the year round. The Yorkton branch of the Museum has a full display of pioneer agricultural machinery but stresses Ethnic displays representing the life of the European settlers who came to that area in the 1900's. Under able management Yorkton is forging ahead rapidly. An expenditure of over one hundred thousand dollars had made this possible.
The branch of the Museum at North Battleford has recently received a grant of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This will upgrade the Museum building making it possible for a year round operation. In addition to all this the city of Moose Jaw, in the southern part of the province, is going ahead with a million and a half dollar branch of the Western Development Museum. This will be mainly devoted to a theme of transportation including rail and aviation. This Museum is to be located on the Trans Canada Highway and is planned to be open sometime during 1975.
As well as pressing forward with its own activities the Museum has encouraged the growth of local Museums in Saskatchewan and some striking results have been achieved. It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that there are over one hundred local Museums in our province at the present time. Many of these are housed in former school buildings. The Museum at Duck Lake occupies a two story brick building. The driving force behind the Duck Lake Museum is Fred Anderson, a pioneer of the district, still going strong at 90 years of age. These local Museums are scattered allover the province and, as used to be said of the early implement agencies, the further away you get from one Museum the closer you are to another.
As to the Saskatoon Museum itself we are still staging the annual week long show now known as Pioneer Days. This show comprises steam engines, gas engines, antique autos and what have you. Our steamers include the 25 ton American Abell and the 32-120 Reeves. This week activity is sparked by the members of the Pioneer Threshermens Club of 150 members headed by President Al Doherty. This year the date is July 8th to 13th, inclusive! When you come Bring plenty of camera equipment, in color if possible.
We have described before in previous issues of the Album, the re-creation of the pioneer village street of the homestead days, that stretches 375 feet a full block in length, inside the Museum. 25 buildings flank the street with the railway station at the far end. Anyone needing a change from the outdoor programs can relax in the quietness of the street. The village went up in such a hurry that it has been named Boomtown. Among other stores a retired jeweler and his wife, Bert and May Buckle keep the lovely clock shop shined up in beautiful order.
The Museum reference library, named the George Shepherd Library now has two girls working full time cataloging and indexing a very extensive collection of rare and out of print volumes on pioneer life and machinery. Many people are still donating valuable material on the pioneer days. Among these is a Museum friend, Mark A. Hutton, all the way from Tennessee. Some of Mr. Hutton's donations are original machinery catalogs dating back to 1880. It is most absorbing to study these catalogs and observe the change over from horsepower to steam and later to gas and from hand-fed separators to self feeders and from straw carriers to wind stackers. Such donations are still coming in from all over and are most gratefully received.
The Women's Auxiliary to the Museum is extremely active. Decked out in period costumes, household chores such as butter making, weaving and spinning and singing songs are the order of the day on special occasions. June Clark, the hard working president is well qualified to bring back the atmosphere of the pioneer days. When the Museum first started some 25 years ago, if you know a steam engine from a gas engine, that was sufficient. At the present time the man you see wielding a paint brush could be a young University student working his way through college. Several Museum employees have University degrees and some have two. Even the girl waiting on tables in the village cafe is graduating in Commerce from the University here.
A sizable army of dedicated Museum employees and volunteers see that things are happening - and they are happening fast. However with all this activity the effort is still very strong to keep the Museum on a down to earth grass roots footing. There is no place for stuffed shirts in any of Museum programs.
We urge visitors to come during show week if possible but come at any time, of the year. At the present time, when you get north of the International Boundary Line tourists will be assured of plenty of gas for car travel. A cordial welcome awaits you at any of the Western Development Museums. We still have our roots in the friendly pioneer homestead days.
For further information contact the writer or Gordon Wilson, Executive Director of the Museum or Bob Unruh, the Comptroller, all at Box 1910 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Canada. Be seeing you.