Saskatoon is a city located in central Saskatchewan, Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River, with a metropolitan population of 233,923. Saskatoon is the most populous city in the province of Saskatchewan, and has been since the mid-1980s when it surpassed the provincial capital of Regina. Residents of Saskatoon are called Saskatonians.
Saskatoon is known as "Bridge City" for its seven river crossings. The name comes from the Cree inanimate noun "misâskwatômina," which refers to the sweet, violet-coloured berry that grows in the area.
In 1885 the Northwest Rebellion affected the tiny community in a variety of ways. Chief Whitecap and Charles Trottier passed through the present day University campus on their way to join Louis Riel's armed forces at Batoche, Saskatchewan. Following the fighting at the Battle of Fish Creek, and the Battle of Batoche, wounded Canadian soldiers convalesced at the Marr Residence which is today a historic site. A few died in care and were buried in the Pioneer Cemetery near the Exhibition Grounds.
A town charter for the west side of the river was obtained in 1903 (Nutana became a village in that year). In 1906 Saskatoon became a city with a population of 4,500, which included the communities of Saskatoon, Riversdale, and Nutana. In 1955 Montgomery Place and in 1956 the neighbouring town of Sutherland were annexed by the fast growing City of Saskatoon.
The 2006 census listed Saskatoon as the largest city of Saskatchewan with a residential population of 202,340, which grew 2.8 per cent from 2001. As of 2005, the civic government of Saskatoon claimed a population of approximately 220,000. The above land area figure was provided by the City of Saskatoon in January 2006 and takes into account recent annexations. Currently, the City of Saskatoon claims a population of 208,300.
The most recent data suggests Saskatoon's population has fallen about 2,000 people over the last year.
According to the 2006 census, 17.7 per cent of the population consists of youths under the age of 15, while those over 65 constitute only 13 per cent of the population. The median age of Saskatoon residents is 35.5 years of age, four years younger than Canada as a whole. The 2006 census lists the residential population of Saskatoon as 202,340.
The majority of Saskatoon's inhabitants profess to be of Christian faith. A large contingent of people also do not profess a religious faith at all. Some 78.5% profess to be Christian, mostly Protestant and Roman Catholic. Minority faiths include Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam, who do not constitute 1 per cent combined.
Population Growth & cost of living : In 2006-2007 Saskatoon has increased growth due to the influx of inter-provincial migrants, who were drawn to the previously low cost of living in the region. This has caused housing starts to hit their highest level in over 30 years as of February 2008. Saskatoon's overall economic output was predicted to have increased by 4.7% in 2007, however, the new Statistics Canada numbers above show actual growth was much less than predicted, at 2.8% and real estate costs have risen about 50% in 2007 alone, decreasing the previous cost of living advantage, however housing in Saskatoon is still relatively affordable compared to cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary while wages in Saskatoon remain significantly lower than Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg. The rising house costs have caused great strain to lower income families who can no longer afford the higher living costs. Many renters have been forced out of their place of residence due to recent condo conversions and rental vacancy rates have dropped to 0.6% as of October 2007. However, Saskatoon's housing market has significantly cooled in recent months (from May 2008). House prices have dropped 10% after hitting the peak in June 2008 and sales have plummeted by 34%, ending a year long boom in the housing market. Finally, while wages grew at just over 20% total between 2000 and 2005, Saskatchewan still has the third lowest annual wages of any Canadian province, exceeding only Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick according to data released May 1, 2008. Wages in Saskatoon have traditionally been significantly lower than nearby Regina.
Projections for 2008 and beyond : According to the above-cited Conference Board outlook, "Although output growth in Saskatoon will cool to 3.5 per cent in 2008, following 2007’s 5.5 per cent outburst, it will still be strong by historical standards. Employment will post similarly slower but still-positive growth. Accordingly, net in-migration will continue, but at a more sustainable pace. Prices, especially for real estate, are jumping; 2008 will see the Consumer Price Index advance 3.6 per cent, the fastest rate since 1991".
The University of Saskatchewan is also home to the Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory, which studies environmental and climate change around the world. These studies provide secular records of environmental change that are critical to developing more accurate models of future environmental and climate variability that will dictate the economic well-being of the Prairie Provinces over the coming decades.
The U of S campus is the major employer in the city. As well, the campus is home to the Canadian Light Source, which is the largest scientific project completed in Canada in over 50 years. The 179 million dollar project resulted in a national synchrotron radiation facility that is used for a wide range of world-class scientific research.
Saskatoon is home to several manufacturing companies such as Hitachi Canadian Industries, a large CNH Global (Case New Holland) factory, Cover-All Building Systems, Akzo Nobel, and Centennial Foods, as well as several companies in the Information Technology and telecom fields. Robin Hood flour is milled in Saskatoon. Design and printing of tickets for companies such as Air Canada, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, the NBA, the NFL, and concerts (Ticketmaster) is done in Saskatoon by Mercury Graphics.
SED Systems, Vecima Networks, Saskatchewan Research Council, AMEC North America, Bayer Crop Science, Becker Underwood, and General Electric Healthcare all have a significant presence in Saskatoon, most located at Innovation Place. Saskatoon also hosts a Marriott International call centre. First Nations Bank of Canada and Federated Co-operatives Limited executive offices are located in Saskatoon. In March 2008, Hatch Ltd announced it would open an office in Saskatoon employing 200 people. Many of the technology companies are located in Innovation Place Research Park.
After explosive residential growth in the 1970s and early 1980s, by the late 1980s development of new communities slowed to a trickle as the economy experienced a downturn. By 2005, however, Saskatoon was in the midst of another growth boom with construction under way on no fewer than four major residential areas , plus early planning launched on several proposed business parks and the Blairmore Suburban Development Area, also known as the "West Sector", a large recently annexed area on the city's west side which is expected to include seven residential communities, a business park, and a "suburban centre" in the coming years. (Construction of the suburban centre, which includes two major high schools and necessitated the realignment of Highway 7, began in 2006.)
Construction of a second power centre on the city's south side is under way. The development of these larger centres has led to something of a decrease in services in the downtown areas, with the few grocery stores in that region going out of business or closing their doors in favour of the larger stores in the peripheral regions of the city.
The downtown core is seeing increased development with projects such as River Landing, lofts and entertainment going ahead. Located in the downtown core, Midtown Plaza is the largest shopping centre in the city with Sears Canada and The Bay as anchors. The city is also home to Market Mall and The Centre on the east side, Confederation Mall on the west side and The Mall at Lawson Heights in the north end.
The City and the band formed an Urban Reserve Partnership, where the land is managed by the band but serviced by the City. The reserve is known as the McKnight Commercial Centre and is completely integrated into the neighbouring industrial area. It includes three buildings, with more than of floor space, that house over 40 businesses employing over 300 people, and further expansion due in 2007–2008. Instead of the businesses paying municipal taxes to the City, the band collects these taxes (which by agreement are the same as they would be anywhere else in the City) as well as the sales taxes; the band then pays the City a "fee for municipal services", which equals the amount of the municipal taxes, and remits the sales taxes to their respective governments. In return, the City built all the infrastructure needed to develop and service the land, including additional road access, and provides all services, including snow removal, policing, and utilities. This ensures that on-reserve businesses do not receive a tax advantage, although their Status Indian employees benefit because on-reserve income is non-taxable. (Status Indians are also exempt from paying sales taxes on a reserve.) The reserve includes a mixture of Aboriginal- and non-Aboriginal-owned businesses.
Following the success of the Muskeg Lake urban reserve, and following the same model, 28 more urban reserves have been created in Saskatchewan, including three each in Prince Albert, Yorkton and Fort Qu'Appelle.
The Sounding Sky urban reserve is the second urban reserve in Saskatoon. Owned by the One Arrow First Nation, it houses the Fire Creek gas station and confectionery at 20th Street and Avenue P. This land was declared an urban reserve in November 2005 and developed in 2006, replacing a small strip mall. There are three more parcels of land in Saskatoon that are owned by First Nations and expected to receive urban reserve status: Canterbury Towers (owned by the Yellow Quill First Nation) and Avord Towers (owned by The Battlefords Tribal Council), both office towers in the Central Business District; and an office complex in the Airport Business Area owned by the English River First Nation.
Saskatoon is in a dry-prairie/savanna biome and experiences warm summers and very cold winters. The city has four distinct seasons. Extreme temperatures range from -50°C in winter to 41°C (-58°F to 104°F) in summer. Saskatoon is fairly dry; the average annual precipitation is 347.2 mm (13.7in), with the summer being the wettest season. A positive aspect of the low precipitation is that Saskatoon is sunnier than average in Canada as a result, averaging 2,381 hours of bright sunshine annually. The extreme temperatures are also more tolerable on account of the typically low humidity. Although winters are long and severe, many people find the crisp atmosphere, lack of dampness and abundant sunshine preferable to the more mild, however gloomy and dull regions of winter Canada. The same can be said for the summer months as there are usually only a few hot days over 30C each summer and most summer days are quite mild in comparison to the rest of populated North America. Hot, humid days are infrequent and uncomfortably sticky summer nights extremely rare. Thunderstorms are common in the summer months and can be severe with torrential rain, hail, high winds, intense lightning and occasional tornadic activity. The frost-free growing season generally lasts from mid-May to mid-September, but due to Saskatoon's northerly location, damaging frosts have occurred well into June and again as early as August.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Saskatoon was -50°C in 1893. The lowest wind chill ever recorded was -61.9°C. The highest temperature ever recorded in Saskatoon was 40.6°C on 5 June 1988.
The "Large blizzard sweeps through British Columbia, Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan" was described by many residents as the worst they had seen and paralyzed the city with its low visibility, extreme cold and large volume of snow. Many area residents took refuge overnight at area work places, shopping centres, hospitals and the university.
Saskatoon lies on a long belt of rich, potassic chernozem in middle-southern Saskatchewan and is found in the Aspen parkland biome. The lack of surrounding mountainous topography gives the city a relatively flat grid, though the city does sprawl over a few hills and into a few valleys. The lowest point in the city is the river, while the highest point is disputed between the suburb of Sutherland in the east side and the Silverwood-River Heights areas in the city's north end. Saskatoon, on a cross-section from west to east, has a general decline in elevation above sea level heading towards the river, and on the east bank of the river, the terrain is mostly level until outside the city, where it begins to decrease in elevation again.
Saskatoon is divided into east and west sides by the South Saskatchewan River. It is then divided into Suburban Development Areas (SDA) which are composed of neighbourhoods.
One of the city's landmarks is the Delta Bessborough Hotel, known to locals as the Bezz. Built by the Canadian National Railway, it was among the last railway hotels to be started before the Great Depression of the 1930s brought their era to a close. Although the building was completed in 1932, it did not open its doors until 1935 due to the Depression. The Bessborough and the Mendel Art Gallery are currently the only major structures located on the river side of Spadina Crescent. One of the most frequently-circulated photographs depicting Saskatoon is of the hotel framed in one of the arches of the Broadway Bridge.
The Meewasin Valley Trail follows the South Saskatchewan River through Saskatoon. Summer activities include cycling, jogging and walking through parks and natural areas. Cross-country skiing is popular during the winter months, along with skating in Kiwanis Memorial Park. Access points are found throughout the city with interpretive signage and washrooms located along the route. There are parks throughout the Meewasin Valley, with washrooms, picnic facilities, and lookout points along the river bank.
In the winter the Meewasin Skating Rink is open free to the public; it is located in Kiwanis Memorial Park beside the Delta Bessborough hotel. The outdoor rink has been open since 1980.
The city is currently redeveloping the south downtown region of River Landing which previously included the Saskatoon Arena, Riverview Collegiate (also headquarters of the Saskatoon Board of Education) and the city's main branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. This redevelopment will result in the development of a Hotel/Spa in the south-west downtown core, new theater complex, similar to the existing Galaxy in Regina, with twelve theatres with stadium-style seating owned by Cineplex Entertainment which opened in the Summer of 2006, parkland, a new facility for Persephone Theatre (currently located outside the downtown core), and a year round home for the Saskatoon Farmers Market. It is hoped this will open up the downtown area to 20 th street, which has struggled with high crime and image problems in gaining acceptance as part of downtown's commercial district.
The following bridges cross the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon (in order from upstream):
Construction of Saskatoon's ring road, Circle Drive, began in the mid-1960s, and is yet to be completed as of 2008. The missing link is in the southwest; on June 20, 2008, the mayor announced that funding for the $300 million project from the federal, provincial and city governments is now in place to build a six-lane bridge and 7 km of freeway to complete the road. The project is expected to be completed in 2012.
The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway have connections to Saskatoon. Saskatoon is a stop on The Canadian passenger transcontinental rail route operated by VIA Rail. The Saskatoon railway station is located in the west end of the city; it was opened in the late 1960s as a replacement for Saskatoon's original main station which was located on 1st Avenue downtown -- the relocation of the station sparked a major redevelopment of the downtown that included the construction of the Midtown Plaza, TCU Place (aka Centennial Auditorium) and other developments. The many provincial transportation connections and geographic location of Saskatoon give it one of its nicknames The Hub City. The Saskatchewan Railway Museum is located just outside the city. Recent debates about moving all the railways out of the city are raising questions about a future LRT system, but the city's Mayor says the population is too small.
Saskatoon/John G. Diefenbaker International Airport provides scheduled and charter airline service for the city, and is a significant hub for mining and remote locations in Northern Saskatchewan. Non-stop scheduled destinations include Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa/Montreal, Minneapolis, Denver and Las Vegas. Seasonal and Charter service is provided to Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Churchill, MB. Air Canada, Westjet and Purolator Courier all have cargo facilities at the airport. Saskatoon/Corman Air Park is a general aviation airport located 15 km south-east of Saskatoon.
Saskatoon has a number of higher education institutions:
Saskatoon has 78 elementary schools and 14 high schools (with three more under construction), serving about 37,000 students. Saskatoon has two school boards, The Saskatoon Public School Division and the Saskatoon Catholic School Division.
Saskatoon is home to five units of the Canadian Cadet Movement:
The Mendel Art Gallery is situated on the bank of the South Saskatchewan River. Its permanent collection exceeds 5,000 works of art. In 2005, it began a major renovation project that will expand the size of the gallery by seventy per cent. In September 2005, however, the City of Saskatoon announced that it had entered discussions with the Mendel to the end of having the Mendel abandon its renovation/expansion project in favor of instead relocating the facility to a new arts and culture centre that is planned for the south downtown area; the Mendel has reportedly rejected this suggestion.
The Ukrainian Museum of Canada is also located on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. The foremost attraction for Ukrainian culture in Saskatoon, it houses various artifacts such as textiles, tools, musical instruments and clothing, and displays them for public viewing. It has branches in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto.
The Meewasin Valley Centre, in Friendship Park, has information on Saskatoon's history, the South Saskatchewan River, and the future of the Meewasin Valley.
Saskatoon is also home of the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. This museum, one of four throughout the province, documents early pioneer life in Saskatchewan. It is noted for its interior recreation of a "Boom Town" main street, including one original building relocated from its original site. The Saskatchewan Railway Museum is located just outside the city and includes displays of rolling stock and historic railway buildings from various parts of the province.
The Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is a National Historic Site situated in the north east region of the city. The Forestry Farm was a historic nursery (dating from 1913) responsible for growing many of the trees planted within the prairie provinces. In 1966 the nursery operations were discontinued and part of the region turned into a municipal park. The city zoo is also housed within the park and features over 80 species of animals.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a National Historic Site situated five km to the north of Saskatoon. It is an Aboriginal archaeological site and features displays, special events, and activities, recent renovations are on hold due to a lack of funds during the renovations.
For rock concerts and major shows, the Credit Union Centre (formerly Saskatchewan Place) is the main venue. It is Saskatchewan's largest arena, with a capacity of 11,300 for sporting events and 14,000 for concerts. Musical acts from Saskatoon include Wide Mouth Mason and The Northern Pikes.
Saskatoon hosts many festivals and events in the summer, including the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Northern Saskatchewan International Children's Festival, the Saskatoon International Fringe Festival (a showcase of alternative theatre), FolkFest (a cultural festival), and the Canada Remembers Airshow
For over 25 years, Saskatoon has hosted a gathering of antique automobiles, (mainly from the 1960s) that has grown into an event called "Cruise Weekend". The event is usually held on the last weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in August. Activities include a poker derby, dances, and a show 'N' shine with over 800 cars from all over western Canada. No admission is charged and everyone is free to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.
The city's annual exhibition (now called the Saskatoon Exhibition but also known in previous years as Pioneer Days and "The Ex") is held every August at Prairieland Park. Until the late 1990s the fair was held in mid-July, and for many years coincided with "Louis Riel Day", a downtown-based celebration of the life of the famous rebel, which included a canoe/running/horseback riding relay race winding through the parks on both sides of the river and on the river itself. Other events included a cabbage roll-eating contest, tug-of-war competitions and live musical performances. Louis Riel Day was a regular summer event from the late 1960s until the early 1990s when a lack of major sponsors forced its cancellation. In the late 1990s, the Saskatoon Exhibition was rescheduled to August so that it no longer was in direct competition with the Calgary Stampede, which frequently overlapped the event.
Saskatoon was the 2007 host city for the Juno Awards, Canada's foremost music industry honours.
Saskatoon was the 2008 host city for the Warped Tour.
As noted by Star-Phoenix columnist Les MacPherson in an article in the early 2000s, Saskatoon, for its population, has few movie theatres. There is only one single-screen theatre in the city - the Broadway Theatre (Saskatoon), which primarily shows arthouse films - while the two-screen Roxy (formerly the Towne Cinema) is an "atmospheric-style" second-run theatre that recently reopened after sitting unused for over a decade. The remainder of the city's theatres are multiplexes. The only movie theatre in the downtown core is the Galaxy Cinemas; the Capitol 4 showed its last film on April 3, 2008. The city's other movie theatres are the Rainbow (a second-run cinema) and the Centre Cinemas, located adjacent to each other in The Centre mall on the city's east side.
Saskatoon has welcomed members of Canada's Royal Family since 1919. Queen Elizabeth most recently visited for the a gala concert at Credit Union Centre, before a live audience of 12,000 and television viewers nationwide in 2005. The Queen was presented with the key to the city on the same visit, after touring the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron and greeting thousands of well-wishers on a walkabout at the University of Saskatchewan. Sovereigns and consorts who have visited include Edward VIII as Prince of Wales in 1919, King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth in 1939, and Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, as Princess Elizabeth in 1951 and afterwards as Queen in 1959, 1978, 1987 and 2005. Other members of the Royal Family who have visited include Princess Margaret in 1980, the Prince of Wales (Charles) in 2001, the Princess Royal (Anne) in 1982 and 2004, the Duke and Duchess of York (Andrew and Sarah) in 1989, and the Earl of Wessex as Prince Edward in 1978. Governors General and Lieutenant Governors also pay regular visits to Saskatoon. Saskatonian Ramon John Hnatyshyn is credited with popularising his office as Governor General from 1990 to 1995. Lieutenant Governors Barnhart, Fedoruk, McNab, Monroe, Porteous and Worobetz were all former residents of Saskatoon.
Connections to the crown include the royal namesakes of about one hundred neighbourhoods, parks, streets, schools and other places. These include King George, Queen Elizabeth and Massey Place neighbourhoods, and Victoria, Coronation and Princess Diana parks. It was at one time considered that Saskatoon's Broadway Bridge would be renamed George V Bridge. Landmarks and institutions also have connections and these include the Royal University Hospital, one of four royal designations in Saskatchewan. Grade schools named for royals include Ecole Victoria School, King George School, Queen Elizabeth School, Prince Philip School and Princess Alexandra School. Existing and historic hotels with royal namesakes include the King George Hotel, the King Edward Hotel, the Queen's Hotel and the Patricia Hotel. The Hotel Bessborough was named for a Canadian Governor General who visited the landmark under construction in the 1930s. The Prince of Wales Promenade along the South Saskatchewan River is a focal point on the riverfront trails. In 2002, 378 Saskatoon residents were presented with Canada's Golden Jubilee Medal by vice-regals to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.
Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Saskatoon and is home to many strong amateur teams such as the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, who host their games in Credit Union Centre (formerly known as Saskatchewan Place). As well Saskatoon is home to many amateur teams at the Junior B and Midget AAA levels, as well as several youth teams. The biggest chance for professional hockey came in 1982. Bill Hunter, a local sports promoter, attempted to purchase the St. Louis Blues of the NHL and move it to Saskatoon, but the move was prevented by the league. This was due to Saskatchewan's and especially Saskatoon's small size in relation to both St. Louis and the other cities in the NHL at the time. However, it did cause the building of the Credit Union Centre, on the city's northern edge. Credit Union Centre Seats approximately 11,000 people for ice hockey
As for women's hockey, Saskatoon and the province as a whole are represented by the Saskatchewan Prairie Ice of the NWHL, which is based near Regina in Lumsden. However, there is a strong youth female hockey presence in Saskatoon with a Midget AAA team and several youth teams in the city.
Canadian football is likely the most successful on field sport in Saskatoon. The Saskatoon Hilltops of the Canadian Junior Football League host their games at Gordie Howe Bowl. The Hilltops have won 12 national junior championships throughout their history. As well, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies are one of the top University football programs in Canada. The Huskies have played in four of the last five Vanier Cup games, including the 2006 Vanier Cup held in Saskatoon. As well, many Saskatonians support the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. The Roughriders play in Regina but are notable for their strong support from all areas of the province.
The Saskatoon Yellow Jackets college summer league baseball team is a member of the Western Major Baseball League and play their games at Cairns Field. They are not affiliated with any Major League Baseball team nor do they carry any professional players. In the past other teams have attempted to grace Saskatoon's professional sports landscape including the Saskatoon Riot, Saskatoon Smokin' Guns, Saskatoon Stallions and the latest being the Saskatoon Legends, who folded during the 2003 season. However, there is hope that the Golden Baseball League will find an owner for its proposed Saskatoon franchise and begin play in 2008 or 2009 at Cairns Field.
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies play Canadian Interuniversity Sport league games at the University Campus. Their facilities include 4,997 seat Griffiths Stadium, 700 seat Rutherford Arena, and a partially new state-of-the-art Physical Activity Complex, with the exception of a small swimming pool which was not updated, that opened in August 2003 with the opening of the new College of Kinesiology Building. The Huskies participate in twelve sports at the CIS level and have been most successful in men's hockey and football lately, nearly beating the Regina Rams in the playoff division semi-final in 2007.
In 2007, two new sports teams came into being in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan SWAT of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League and the Saskatoon Accelerators in the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League. The Accelerators play at Credit Union Centre, while the SWAT split their games between Credit Union Centre and Kinsmen Arena. The SWAT play Tier I, Junior B lacrosse and will play their inaugural season in early 2007. The indoor soccer franchise intends to begin full operations in 2008.
Motor racing is a popular sport in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan International Raceway has been in operation for over 40 years; SIR is home to 1/4 mile NHRA drag racing and holds racing events from May to September. As well, just north of the city lies Auto Clearing Motor Speedway; the track is home to local stock car racing, as well as races for several different Western Canadian series.
On the recreation side, Lions Skatepark was built in the Riversdale area in 2003. As well Saskatoon is home to several golf courses and various parks which include tennis courts, ball diamonds and soccer pitches for spring, summer and fall use and outdoor rinks for winter use. Blackstrap Ski Hill is also located 30 minutes south of the city, however, has been closed for both 2006 and 2007 seasons due to financial difficulty.