Saskatoon History - Railway and Agricultural Boom
Early settlers dreamed of creating a prosperous community in Saskatoon. John A. MacDonald's government was looking so rapidly to develop the country, that he was offering large sections of land to any colonization companies.
Members of Toronto's Methodist community, which was opposed the use of alcohol, formed the Temperance Colonization Society ("TCS") in 1881 and signed up 3,100 would-be colonists for more than two million acres. TCS's own 313,000 acres ran from Clark's Crossing (now Clarkboro) about 20 km downstream from today's Saskatoon, west to the Moose Woods Reserve, about 45 km upstream. In June 1882 John Lake, a Methodist minister & entrepreneur, found a colony site on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, at a point deep enough for regular ferry crossing, following the advice of Moose Woods Chief, White Cap. The place was named Minnetonka, though early settlement was discouraged due to the hostile native activity caused by the North-West Rebellion.
In 1890 the Qu'Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railway Company bridged the river at Saskatoon and built a line to Prince Albert. The railway station on the west bank soon attracted settlement, which in 1901 was incorporated as the village of Saskatoon and became a town (population 544) in 1903. The settlement on the east side was called Nutana, and a third settlement called Riversdale grew west of the railway tracks, and in 1906 the three amalgamated (population 4500) to form a city.
By 1908 4 bridges crossed the river at Saskatoon, making it a major western transportation hub for rail and road traffic. The city became a major commercial centre as agricultural goods were sold for eastern consumption, and the farmers bought manufactured goods, brought from the east by the railroad. Later potash, which is used in fertilizer, was found near Melville.
Saskatoon became a mainstream city of Saskatchewan by assuring the railways came to their town. By 1908 Saskatoon had three railway bridges and a traffic bridge crossing the South Saskatchewan River, securing Saskatoon as the hub of a transportation network..
By 1912, during the pre-war boom, the city grew to 24,000 and the Campus of University of Saskatchewan was holding its first classes. The next year the municipal railway (public transit) began running and carried 3 million passengers in its first year. In 1923 the city had its first radio station, and by 1928 opened its airport, and in 1928 had its first public library, and by 1931 the population grew to 43,000. This dipped a bit during the Great Depression but rebounded to 46,000 by 1946.
More history of Saskatoon