Day 14 – June 20 – North Battleford, SK to Saskatoon, SK

We planned to visit the North Battleford Historic Site. That is why we came to North Battleford. Unfortunately it is only open from Wednesday to Sunday. The only other thing I thought we may go visit was the Western Development Museum. There are four of them in Saskatchewan, each one with a different theme. The North Battleford one was farm equipment. Since John and I both grew up on farms and we have toured quite a few museums with farm equipment we were pretty sure there would be no surprises there, so we went to the Visitor Center to see if there was something else. Turns out the Visitor Center is located in the Fred Light Museum which I had written down to check out but could not really find a lot of info on when I was looking at things to see and do in North Battlford.

The museum is housed in the former St. Vital Public Catholic School. The first building was erected in 1887 but by 1911 a larger buidling was needed. Fred Light was the son of a pioneer Mounted Police family of old Battleford. He was always very involved in the preservation and restoration of western historic artifacts and amassed one of the most comprehensive collections of firearms in Western Canada.

Because the buiding was once a school, the collections are displayed by themes in each room. There was the Battleford Room, an Old General Store room, a School Room, a Veterans Room, Gasoline Alley and the Gun Room,

Notice the painting of the young girl on the base of the lamp in the middle.

It is a lot easier to buy your butter from the store than to have to make it with these things.

Look, some of these are BC Okanagan apple boxes.

A painting of the Battle of Batouche which took place north of Saskatoon during the 1885 Rebellion.

Northwest Mounted Police patrol wagon.

The Veterans Room had one of the most impressive displays of uniforms I have ever seen. All branches of the military from WWI and WWII and the 1885 Rebellion were beautifully displayed. There was a wall-length cabinet of military badges that a fellow had collected and donated! Hundreds of them. It was really impressive

The most impressive room, though, was the Gun Room. Display case after display case of rifles, ammunition, revolvers; even one of swords, sabers and knives.

The cannon is a working model.

I think these may have been the oldest firearms in the collection. They are, from top to bottom: Portuguese Matchlock. Circa 1600’s. Belgian Flintlock, 64 caliber, 1762. London Cap and Ball, 64 caliber, 1762. Arabian Snaphaunce, 50 caliber, 1700. Virginian Squirrel, 38 caliber, circa 1830. And a Japanese Matchlock, 50 caliber, 1645.

After we left the museum we did a geocache Adventure Lab that took us to some of Battleford’s historic buildings.

The Town Hall and Opera House was completed in 1912 for a final cost of $40,000.

The Post Office is the second longest continuously run post office in Canada and the oldest post office in Saskatchewan. It was constructed in 1911. The town clock was installed in 1914. In 1987 Canada Post issued a 72 cent stamp to commemorate the heritage value of Battleford Post Office.

The Court House was built in 1907. It is still used by the community in its orginal role. The Court House is connected to the former Land Titles Building, also constructed in 1907, which is now a Municipal Heritage Building.

The final building was on a hill out of town. It was the Land Registery Office constructed in 1877.

As we were driving back down the hill to rejoin the highway and head to Saskatoon, John saw a sign for The Ridge and thought it was maybe a housing area so he turned off and went to see what was there. Turns out it was the original site of another historical building – Government House.

Government House. Between 1877 and 1883 the North West Territory, an area then comprising over two-thirds of Canada, was administered from this location. The building contained offices and chambers of the territorial council as well as the eight-room residence of the Lieutenant-Governor. It was damaged and looted during the 1885 Rebellion when it was the base of militia operations. After the territorial government was moved to Regina the building became one of Canada’s first Industrial Schools. The school was closed in 1914 due to increasing operating costs and the growing doubts over the wisdom of having off-reservation education. The Seventh Day Adventist Church rented it for $5 per year but had to do all the maintenance and renovations. They did extensive additions including a third story. The academy taught Grades 1-12 and closed in 1931. The remaining years were spent in the care of Oblate priests who bought it in 1931 and turned it into a seminary and St. Thomas College for Grades 9-12. By 1972 it was reaching the end of its useful lifetime and the order built a new seminary building on the property. The Old Government House burned to the ground in a vandal-caused fire June 7, 2003.

It rained off and on all the way to Saskatoon. We only stopped to have our lunch, find a couple of geocaches, and do a short tour around the town of Biggar. Love their town motto.

We did not drive this road today. We found a geocache at the turnoff and in the description for the cache it said to drive a little further and you would have a nice view of the road going south. And we did.

We arrived in Saskatoon at four, checked into our hotel, sorted a few photos and went for dinner at the hotel’s Irish Pub. (Sadly for John, they did not have Guiness on tap and he had to settle for a bottle. He was a bit disgusted that it wasn’t served in a Guiness glass though – it was a Kokanee glass.) After we had finished eating the sun came out. Our hotel is right across the road from the lovely, long Kiwanis Memorial Park that stretches along the South Saskatchewan River.

The Delta by Marriott Bessborough Hotel. The 10-story Bessborough opened in 1931. It was built for Canadian National Hotels, a division of Canadian National Railway and is considered one of Canada’s grand railway hotels.

University Bridge across the South Saskatchewan River.

Tomorrow we see some sights in Saskatoon.

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