SASKATCHEWAN, the Wheat Province

Overview and history

Saskatchewan : points of interest
other provinces

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OVERVIEW

 

SASKATCHEWAN is also called the Wheat Province, and derives its name from a Cree word meaning "rushing water", designing the Saskatchewan River. Regina is its capital, and its largest city is Saskatoon. The province has about one million inhabitants, with a density of 1.7 per square kilometer, and 63% of these live in or around a city.

Saskatchewan has a surface of 651,000 km2, of which approximately 35% is forested. The only animals that still remain in this agricultural province are the antelope, badger, coyote and timber wolf. In the north you'll still find the muskrat, mink, weasel, beaver, black bear, and the skunk, and in the woods there are moose, elk, deer and caribou.

Until 1880, most of Saskatchewan was included in the vast surface of Rupert's Land, which was entirely controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company, with its monopoly on the fur trade. It was only after the railroad was built through the prairies, that small towns sprung up in ribbons, each one some 13 kilometers from the next. Then the agriculture simply exploded ! The province of Saskatchewan is Canada's breadbasket, and one of the three Prairie Provinces.

In 1905, Saskatchewan joined the Confederation of Canada. In the 1950's, oil, gas and uranium were discovered, and ten years later, the mining and petrochemical industries brought economic stability. Saskatchewan produces most of the uranium in the whole world. Vacations and hobbies are largely focused on water sports and fishing.

map of Saskatchewan

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HISTORY

*** Read more about Prehistoric American-Indian cultures ***

The oldest residents of Saskatchewan were part of the Athapaskan (Chipewyan, Beaver and Slavey), the Algonquin (Cree and Blackfoot) and the Sioux (Assiniboine and Gros Ventres). And "Gros Ventres" happens to be French for "large bellies"... After 1870, several other Sioux tribes immigrated from the US.

In 1670 the Hudson's Bay Company received a Royal Charter that gave them the rights to all the land whose rivers flowed into the Hudson's Bay. In the early days the company simply relied on the local Indians to bring them pelts, but after 1750 independent Scottish and French fur traders from Montreal came into the area, and an intense competition developed. In 1774 Samuel Hearne of the Hudson's Bay Company built a trading post in Cumberland House (Saskatchewan), and this was actually the first European settlement.

In 1783 the Montreal fur traders founded the North West Companyand built trading posts. An intense rivalry sprung up between the two companies, but neither could obtain the upper hand. In 1821 it ended with the merger of both companies. Over the next 50 years the new giant company was about the only authority in Canada.

After 1850 the fur trade declined sharply. The British sent Captain John Palliser to investigate the exploration of the territory. In 1870 the Dominion of Canada bought the entire enormous territory of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory from the Hudson's Bay Company. The new territory was called the Northwest Territories.

After 1878 the Canadian government heavily supported the colonization of this area, in order to stop the advancing Americans. For strategic reasons the government decided to build an east-west transcontinental railroad, and the Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885.

By 1875 most Indians had sold their land to the federal government, and they (willingly...) retreated into reservations. The Métis, however, refused this offer and they objected to the massive slaughter of the buffalos, which was their source of food. In 1883 the Métis banded together under Louis Riel and they formed a government. But this Northwest Rebellion was quickly crushed, and the government never responded to their legitimate demands. Canadian history, as opposed to American history, is remarkably silent about the government's role in this slaughter. Probably better media control...

In 1905 Saskatchewan joined the Dominion of Canada as a full province. In 1913 there was a small recession, followed by World War I (1914-1918), several failed harvests, a major depression, and to top this off there was a long drought until after 1941. The immigration stopped completely and many families left the province. It took until 1965 before the population was back to the pre-war level!

After World War II (1940-1945) followed a period of stagnation, until in 1955 oil, gas and uranium were discovered. Young people still leave the province, but recent oil discoveries slowly boost the economy again.

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