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
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
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.