The date was 7 April 1909, the event, one of the most exciting in the history of Saskatoon: the city had been selected as the site of the University of Saskatchewan. Whistles were blown and people crowded the streets when the news was received from Regina via telegraph at 11:30 p.m. The following day some 5,000 people gathered at Saskatoon’s CNR station to welcome the men who had been instrumental in selecting the site.
Under the guidance of the university’s first president, Walter Murray, the campus was designed and built ‘not for a decade but a century’. The College Building was to be the most important. Murray said the university must do “something of interest architecturally … The building is the first one, and for many years will occupy the place of honour.”
– Menno Fieguth and Deanna Christensen, “Historic Saskatchewan”
Though Regina won the bid to become the capital city, Saskatoon’s status was affirmed by the government’s decision to make it home to the province’s first university. A site for the institution was selected in 1909, and construction began on the first building, the Administration Building, in the spring the following year. This impressive grey-stone structure sits next to the Saskatchewan River at the centre of an oval promenade known as ‘the bowl’. Its Collegiate Gothic design became the model for the rest of the campus, which has grown to include more than a dozen buildings.
– Meika Lalonde and Elton LaClare, “Discover Saskatchewan: A Guide to Historic Sites”
Over the past few months, I’ve been checking out a larger number of books from the library that centre on Saskatchewan’s rich history. When I was looking through one book in particular, I noticed that the anniversary of the day that University of Saskatchewan was chosen to be located in our city was approaching. So, with my camera and Truman Capote in tow, we walked across the river and around the campus photographing the particular buildings that these historical books were referencing. The U of S itself will always hold a special place in my heart, since it is where I completed my university degree. I am also lucky enough to hold a research position there.
Saskatchewan is the province that I grew up in, moved away from numerous times over a period of 10 years, and then came back to settle down and to put down my own roots as a married woman. It is the province that I feel most at home in, and appreciating its understated magnificence has only come with age. I plan to continue to live in this great place for many years to come.