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Saskatchewan

[sa-skach-uh-won, -wuhn]
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of 588,276.09 square kilometres (227,134.67 sq mi) and a population of 1,010,146 (according to 2008 estimates), mostly living in the southern half of the province. Of these, 233,923 live in the province's largest city, Saskatoon, while 194,971 live in the provincial capital, Regina. Other major cities, in order of size, are Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current, and North Battleford. The province's name comes from the Saskatchewan River, whose name comes from its Cree designation: kisiskāciwani-sīpiy, meaning "swift flowing river".

Geography

From a great scale, Saskatchewan appears to be somewhat a quadrilateral. However, because of its size, the 49th parallel boundary and the 60th northern border appear curved. Additionally, the eastern boundary of the province is partially crooked rather than following a line of longitude, as correction lines were devised by surveyors prior to the homestead program (1880–1928). Saskatchewan is bounded on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota. Saskatchewan has the distinction of being the only Canadian province for which no borders correspond to physical geographic features. It is also one of only two provinces that are land-locked, the other being Alberta.

Saskatchewan contains two major natural regions: the Canadian Shield in the north and the Interior Plains in the south. Northern Saskatchewan is mostly covered by boreal forest except for the Lake Athabasca Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the world north of 58°, adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Athabasca. Southern Saskatchewan contains another area with sand dunes known as the "Great Sand Hills" covering over . The Cypress Hills, located in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan and Killdeer Badlands (Grasslands National Park) are areas of the province that remained unglaciated during the last glaciation period. The province's highest point at 1,468 metres (4,816 ft) is located in the Cypress Hills. The lowest point is the shore of Lake Athabasca, at 213 metres (700 ft). The province has fourteen major drainage basins made up of various rivers and watersheds draining into the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay, and Gulf of Mexico.

Climate

Saskatchewan lies far from any significant body of water. This, combined with its northerly latitude gives it a cold summer version of humid continental climate (Köppen type Dfb) in the central and most of the eastern part, drying off to a semi-arid steppe climate (Köppen type BSk) in the southern and southwestern part of the province. The northern parts of Saskatchewan—from about La Ronge northward—have a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Summers can be very hot, with temperatures sometimes above 32 °C (90 °F) during the day, and humidity decreasing from northeast to southwest. Warm southern winds blow from the United States during much of July and August. While winters can be bitterly cold, with high temperatures not breaking −17 °C (0 °F) for weeks at a time, warm chinook winds often blow from the west, bringing periods of mild weather. Annual precipitation averages 30 to 45 centimetres (12 to 18 in) annually across the province, with the bulk of rain falling in June, July, and August.

History

Prior to European settlement, Saskatchewan was populated by various indigenous peoples of North America including members of the Athabaskan, Algonquian, Atsina, Cree, Saulteaux and Sioux tribes. The first European to enter Saskatchewan was Henry Kelsey in 1690, who travelled up the Saskatchewan River in hopes of trading fur with the province's indigenous peoples. The first permanent European settlement was a Hudson's Bay Company post at Cumberland House founded by Samuel Hearne in 1774.

In the late 1850s and early 1860s, scientific expeditions led by John Palliser and Henry Youle Hind explored the prairie region of the province.

In the 1870s, the Government of Canada formed the Northwest Territories to administer the vast territory between British Columbia and Manitoba. The government also entered into a series of numbered treaties with the indigenous peoples of the area, which serve as the basis of the relationship between First Nations, as they are called today, and the Crown.

In 1885, post-Confederation Canada's first "naval battle" was fought in Saskatchewan, when a steamship engaged the Métis at Batoche in the North-West Rebellion.

A seminal event in the history of what was to become Western Canada was the 1874 "March West" of the federal government's new North-West Mounted Police. Despite poor equipment and lack of provisions, the men on the march persevered and established a federal presence in the new territory. Historians have argued that had this expedition been unsuccessful, then the expansionist United States would have been sorely tempted to expand into the political vacuum. And even had it not, then the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway would have been delayed or taken a different, more northerly route, stunting the early growth of towns like Brandon, Regina, Medicine Hat and Calgary — had these existed at all. Failure to construct the railway could also have forced British Columbia to join the United States.

Settlement of the province started to take off as the Canadian Pacific Railway was built in the early 1880s, and the Canadian government divided up the land by the Dominion Land Survey and gave free land to any willing settlers.

The North-West Mounted Police set up several posts and forts across Saskatchewan including Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, and Wood Mountain Post in south central Saskatchewan near the United States border.

In 1876, following the Battle of Little Bighorn Lakota chief Sitting Bull led several thousand of his people to Wood Mountain. Wood Mountain Reserve was founded in 1914. Many Métis people, who had not been signatories to a treaty, had moved to the Southbranch Settlement and Prince Albert district north of present-day Saskatoon following the Red River Resistance in Manitoba in 1870. In the early 1880s, the Canadian government refused to hear the Métis' grievances, which stemmed from land-use issues. Finally, in 1885, the Métis, led by Louis Riel, staged the North-West Rebellion and declared a provisional government. They were defeated by a Canadian militia brought to the Canadian prairies by the new Canadian Pacific Railway. Riel surrendered and was convicted of treason in a packed Regina courtroom. He was hanged on November 16, 1885.

As more settlers came to the prairies on the railway, the population grew, and Saskatchewan became a province on September 1, 1905; inauguration day was held September 4.

The Homestead Act permitted settlers to acquire ¼ mi² of land to homestead and offered an additional quarter upon establishing a homestead. Immigration peaked in 1910, and in spite of the initial difficulties of frontier life, distance from towns, sod homes, and backbreaking labour, a prosperous agrarian society was established.

In 1913, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association was established as Saskatchewan's first ranchers' organization. Three objectives were laid out at the founding convention in 1913 have served as a guide: to watch over legislation; to forward the interests of the Stock Growers in every honourable and legitimate way; and to suggest to parliament legislation to meet changing conditions and requirements. Its farming equivalent, the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association, was the dominant political force in the province until the 1920s and had close ties with the governing Liberal party.

In the late 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan imported from the U.S. and Ontario and gained brief popularity in WASP nativist circles in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Klan, briefly allied with the provincial Conservative party because of their mutual dislike for Premier James G. "Jimmy" Gardiner and his Liberals (who ferociously fought the Klan) enjoyed about two years of prominence, then disappeared, the victim of widespread political and media opposition plus scandals involving their own funds.

In 1970, the first annual Canadian Western Agribition was held in Regina. This farm industry trade show, with a heavy emphasis on livestock, is rated as one of the five top livestock shows in North America, along with those in Houston, Denver, Louisville and Toronto.

Demographics

According to the 2006 Canadian census, the largest ethnic group in Saskatchewan is German (30.0%), followed by English (26.5%), Scottish (19.2%), Irish (15.3%), Ukrainian (13.6%), French (12.4%), First Nations (12.1%), Norwegian (7.2%), Polish (6.0%), Métis (4.4%), Dutch (3.7%), Russian (3.7%) and Swedish (3.5%) - although 18.1% of all respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian".

Year Population Five-year
% change
Ten-year
% change
Rank among
provinces
1901 91,279 n/a n/a 8
1911 492,432 n/a 439.5 3
1921 757,510 n/a 53.8 3
1931 921,785 n/a 21.7 3
1941 895,992 n/a -2.8 3
1951 831,728 n/a -7.2 5
1956 880,665 5.9 n/a 5
1961 925,181 5.1 11.2 5
1966 955,344 3.3 8.5 6
1971 926,242 -3.0 0.1 6
1976 921,325 -0.5 3.6 6
1981 968,313 5.1 4.5 6
1986 1,009,613 4.3 9.6 6
1991 988,928 -2.0 2.1 6
1996 976,615 -1.2 -3.3 6
2001 978,933 0.2 -1.0 6
2006 985,386 0.7 0.9 6

Religion

The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were the Roman Catholic Church with 286,815 (30 %); the United Church of Canada with 187,450 (20 %); and the Lutherans with 78,520 (8 %).

Economy

Saskatchewan's economy is associated with agriculture; however, increasing diversification has meant that now agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting together make up only 6.8% of the province's GDP. Saskatchewan grows 45% of Canada's grain. Wheat is the most familiar crop and perhaps the one stereotypically associated with the province, but other grains like canola, flax, rye, oats, peas, lentils, canary seed, and barley are also produced. Beef cattle production in the province is only exceeded by Alberta. Mining is also a major industry in the province, with Saskatchewan being the world leader in potash and uranium exports. In the northern part of the province, forestry is significant.

Oil and natural gas production is also a very important part of Saskatchewan's economy, although the oil industry is larger. Only Alberta exceeds the province in overall oil production. Heavy crude is extracted in the Lloydminster-Kerrobert-Kindersley areas. Light crude is found in the Kindersley-Swift Current areas as well as the Weyburn-Estevan fields. Natural gas is found almost entirely in the western part of Saskatchewan, from the Primrose Lake area through Lloydminster, Unity, Kindersley, Leader, and around Maple Creek areas.

Saskatchewan's GDP in 2006 was approximately C$45.922 billion, with economic sectors breaking down in the following way:

% Sector
17.1 finance, insurance, real estate, leasing
13.0 mining, petroleum
11.9 education, health, social services
11.7 wholesale and retail trade
9.1 transportation, communications, utilities
7.7 manufacturing
6.8 agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting
6.5 business services
5.8 government services
5.1 construction
5.3 other
A list of the top 100 companies includes The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Federated Cooperatives Ltd. and IPSCO.

Major Saskatchewan-based Crown corporations are Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), SaskTel, SaskEnergy (the province's main supplier of natural gas), and SaskPower. Bombardier runs the NATO Flying Training Centre at 15 Wing, near Moose Jaw. Bombardier was awarded a long-term contract in the late 1990s for $2.8 billion from the federal government for the purchase of military aircraft and the running of the training facility.

Provincial finances

Fiscal Year Population2 Public Debt3 Budget Surplus GFSF Balance Pers. Inc. Tax Revenue Corp. Inc./Cap. Tax Revenue Sales tax Revenue Resource Revenue Health Expense
20091 xxx,xxx 4,652,384 3,019,148 3,038,508 1,932,000 1,080,600 1,087,300 4,482,400 3,815,333
2008 1,010,146 6,824,323 1,282,869 1,528,934 1,938,258 1,104,245 995,995 2,325,116 3,504,333
2007 990,212 7,244,938 397,394 887,500 1,668,538 1,067,459 1,079,794 1,694,252 3,202,965
2006 988,980 7,197,223 539,466 887,500 1,447,905 918,279 1,112,350 1,721,100 2,990,625
2005 994,551 7,545,574 765,117 748,500 1,329,081 638,968 985,079 1,474,191 2,773,961
2004 xxx,xxx 8,031,637 -210,017 366,000 1,245,763 682,052 854,480 1,140,962 2,515,823
2003 xxx,xxx 7,821,426 82,860 577,000 1,429,757 557,360 813,932 1,243,649 2,342,835
2002 xxx,xxx 7,561,899 -278,902 495,000 1,196,410 508,542 770,984 903,044 2,199,723

The Tabulated Data covers the previous fiscal year (e.g. 2008 covers April 1, 2007 - March 31, 2008). All data is in $1,000s.

1 These values reflect estimates made after the first quarter (April 1st - June 30th).

2 These values reflect the estimated population at the end of the previous fiscal year.

3 These values reflect the debt of the General Revenue Fund alone. It does not reflect the debt of Government Service Organizations (Health Authorities, Crop Insurance Corporation, etc.) or Government Service Enterprises (Crown Corporations).

Source: Government of Saskatchewan.

Government and politics

Saskatchewan has the same form of government as the other Canadian provinces with a lieutenant-governor (who is the representative of the Crown in Right of Saskatchewan), premier, and a unicameral legislature.

For many years, Saskatchewan has been one of Canada's more liberal provinces, reflecting many of its citizens' feelings of alienation from the interests of large capital. In 1944 Tommy Douglas became premier of the first avowedly socialist regional government in North America. Most of his Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) represented rural and small-town ridings. Under his Cooperative Commonwealth Federation government, Saskatchewan became the first province to have Medicare. In 1961, Douglas left provincial politics to become the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Provincial politics in Saskatchewan is dominated by the New Democrats and the Saskatchewan Party. Numerous smaller political parties also run candidates in provincial elections, including the Liberal Party, the Green Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, but none is currently represented in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. After 16 years of New Democratic governments under premiers Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert, the recent 2007 provincial election was won by the Saskatchewan Party under Brad Wall.

Federally, the province has been a stronghold of the New Democratic Party, although recent elections have been dominated by the Conservative Party. Of the 14 federal constituencies in Saskatchewan, 12 were won by members of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2006, and 13 of 14 were won by Conservatives in 2004, while the federal New Democratic Party has been shut out of the province for two consecutive elections. Since the resignation of Gary Merasty from the House of Commons, the only Liberal Member of Parliament in the province is former Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.

Politically, the province is characterized by a dramatic urban-rural split — the federal and provincial New Democratic Party dominate in the cities, while the Saskatchewan Party and the federal Conservatives are stronger in the rural parts of the province. While both Saskatoon and Regina (Saskatchewan's largest cities) are roughly twice the population of an urban riding in Canada, both are split into multiple ridings that blend them with rural communities.

Municipalities

Ten largest municipalities by population
Municipality 1996 2001 2006
Saskatoon 193,653 196,861 202,340
Regina 180,404 178,225 179,246
Prince Albert 34,777 34,291 34,138
Moose Jaw 32,973 32,131 32,132
Yorkton 15,154 15,107 15,038
Swift Current 14,890 14,821 14,946
North Battleford 14,051 13,692 13,190
Estevan 10,752 10,242 10,084
Weyburn 9,723 9,534 9,433
Corman Park 7,142 8,043 8,349
This list does not include Lloydminster, which has a total population of 24,028 but straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. As of 2006, only 8,118 people lived on the Saskatchewan side, which would make it Saskatchewan's 11th largest municipality. All of the listed communities are considered cities by the province, with the exception of Corman Park, which is a rural municipality. Municipalities in the province with a population of 5,000 or more can receive official city status.

Education

The first education on the prairies was learned within the family group of the first nation or early fur trading family settlers. There were only a few missionary or trading post schools established in Rupert's Land later known as the North West Territories.

The first 76 North West Territories school districts and the first Board of Education meeting formed in 1886. The pioneering boom formed ethnic bloc settlements. Communities were seeking education for their children similar to the schools of their home land. Log cabins, and dwellings were constructed for the assembly of the community, school, church, dances and meetings.

The roaring twenties and established farmers who have successfully proved up on their homesteads helped provide funding to standardize education. Text books, normal schools for formally educated teachers, school curricula, state of the art school house architectural plans, provided continuity throughout the province. English as the school language helped to provide economic stability because one community could communicate with another and goods could be traded and sold in a common language. The number of one-room school house districts across Saskatchewan totalled approximately 5,000 at the height of the one-room school house educational system in the late 1940s.

Following World War II, the transition from many one room school houses to fewer and larger consolidated modern technological town and city schools occurred as a means of ensuring technical education. School buses, highways, and family vehicles create ease and accessibility of a population shift to larger towns and cities. Combines and tractors mean that the farmer could successfully manage more than a quarter section of land, so there was a shift from family farms and subsistence crops to cash crops grown on many sections of land.

School vouchers have been newly proposed as a means of allowing competition between rural schools and making the operation of co-operative schools practicable in rural areas.

Provincial symbols

Flag

Saskatchewan's flag was officially dedicated on September 22, 1969. The flag features the Armorial Bearing (Coat-of-Arms) in the upper quarter nearest the staff, with the floral emblem, the Prairie Lily, in the fly. The upper green half of the flag represents the northern Saskatchewan forest lands, while the gold lower half symbolizes the southern prairie wheat fields. A province-wide competition was held to design the flag, and drew over 4,000 entries. The winning design was by Anthony Drake, then living in Hodgeville.

Saskatchewan's heraldic shield contains a red lion on a yellow field, reversing the conventional heraldic colours, indicating the prairie fires of this region during the pre-settlement North-West Territories.

Tartan

Saskatchewan's official tartan was registered with the Court of Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland in 1961. It has seven colours: gold, brown, green, red, yellow, white and black.

Centennial celebrations

In 2005, Saskatchewan celebrated its centennial. To honour it the Royal Canadian Mint issued a commemorative five-dollar coin depicting Canada's wheat fields as well as a circulation 25-cent coin of a similar design. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Regina, Saskatoon and Lumsden, and the Saskatchewan-reared Joni Mitchell issued an album in Saskatchewan's honour.

Healthcare

Saskatchewan's medical health system is widely characterised as "socialized medicine," with medical practitioners in Saskatchewan, as in other Canadian provinces, remitting their accounts to the publicly funded Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Plan rather than to patients. Unlike in Medicare in Australia or the National Health Services in the United Kingdom, which also have universal health care schemes, doctors are not permitted directly to supercharge patients over and above the statutory tariff for their services, and supplementary private health insurance is banned.

Popular culture

The most famous representations of Saskatchewan in modern popular culture come from the popular Canadian television sitcoms Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, both of which are set in small towns. The novels of W. O. Mitchell, Sinclair Ross, Frederick Philip Grove, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Michael Helm and Gail Bowen are also frequently set in Saskatchewan.

The English naturalist "Grey Owl" spent much of his life living and studying in what is now Prince Albert National Park.

The Arrogant Worms song The Last Saskatchewan Pirate about a disgruntled farmer who takes up piracy on the namesake river, mentions various parts of the Province such as Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw

In a Looney Tunes cartoon circa 1957 titled "Ali Baba Bunny", a character Hassan who has been charged with protecting the treasure in Ali Baba's cave forgets the pass phrase "Open Sesame" and, while trying out various words, says "Open Saskatchewan"

Popular Québécois band Les Trois Accords recorded a song in French called Saskatchewan on their first album Gros Mammouth Album. It was the third single of that album and met moderate success in French Canada.

Arts and culture

Museums and galleries

Law and order

Police agencies

See also

Notes

References

  • Archer, John H. Saskatchewan: A History. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980. 422 pp.
  • Bennett, John W. and Kohl, Seena B. Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building. An Anthropological History. U. of Nebraska Pr., 1995. 311 pp.
  • Bill Waiser. Saskatchewan: A New History (2006)
  • Bocking, D. H., ed. Pages from the Past: Essays on Saskatchewan History. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1979. 299 pp.
  • LaPointe, Richard and Tessier, Lucille. The Francophones of Saskatchewan: A History. Regina: U. of Regina, Campion Coll., 1988. 329 pp.
  • Lipset, Seymour M. Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan: A Study in Political Sociology, University of California Press, 1950.
  • Martin, Robin Shades of Right: Nativist and Fascist Politics in Canada, 1920-1940, University of Toronto Press, 1992.
  • Smith, David E., ed. Building a Province: A History of Saskatchewan in Documents. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1993. 443 pp.
  • Smith, Dennis. Rogue Tory: The Life and Legend of John G. Diefenbaker. Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1995. 702 pp.

External links

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