Sunday June 2, 2019
Following the establishment of the first permanent settlement in the area in 1883, Saskatoon grew slowly. By 1899, Saskatoon consisted of only a few houses on the east side of the river and included a station house, Mountain Police Barracks and a hotel on its west.
In 1906, with the promise of a traffic bridge and other civic improvements, Saskatoon soon became the fastest growing city in Canada. In the years leading up to the First World War, Saskatoon’s economy boomed and the population exploded, in particular from 1909 – 1912. New construction was everywhere. The good times however did not last, and the boom went bust in 1913.
With the declaration of war with Germany in 1914, construction in Saskatoon had ground to a halt. By the end of 1914 one in ten Saskatonians were on relief. Growth over next 30 years was marred by various economic and political upheavals, including the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.
Saskatoon struggled both socially and economically following the World War I, and the city did not truly recover until the late 1920s. The period of recovery was brief –the collapse of the stock market in October of 1929 led to the Great Depression and the end of another building era.
The social and economic shock of the Great Depression was exasperated on the prairies by severe drought. Unemployment became a reality for many of Saskatoon’s citizens, and public work projects were initiated to provide respite. Towards the end of the decade the economy was finally beginning to make a resurgence.
In 1939, the Great Depression ended with the onset of the Second World War. Once again, Saskatoon’s young men and women enlisted to serve their country. Training bases and schools opened across the city to accommodate an influx of military recruits.
Thousands of returning soldiers, most of them either recently married or about to be married, and some with children in tow, arrived in a city that had seen almost no new construction in 15 years. By the late 1940s things in Saskatoon had stabilized and the city entered a long period of prosperity which has lasted - with exceptions - ever since.
Saskatoon was not immune to what was happening in the rest of the world during this period. The ‘60’s brought a boom to Saskatoon with the Gardiner Dam project on the South Saskatchewan and the development of potash mines around Saskatoon. Many new schools were built, our first indoor shopping malls opened, and Saskatoon experienced its first high-rise apartments. Worldwide economic down turn in the ‘70’s slowed development in Saskatoon as well, only to return in the 80’s with the expansion into our suburbs with more schools and malls. This development slowed down in the later ‘80’s and early ‘90’s with the market crash and change of provincial government. The late ‘90’s was again a time for boom particularly on the U of S campus and Innovation Place.
Saskatoon has been carried into the 21st century with technology changes having a large impact on engineering and architect. The Canadian Light Source and the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre are a testament to the use of new design technologies. The use of solar technologies is growing at an expediential rate in Saskatoon as homes in older parts in the city are removed and new homes, using latest building technologies and sporting solar panels, are being built.
Source: City of Saskatoon Archives; Saskatoon A History in Photographs (Jeff O’Brien, Ruth W. Millar & William P. Delainey, 2006).