Wednesday, August 31

Young at Heart Octogenarian from Saskatchewan Calls Haida Gwaii Experien...

Les Coleman is an octogenarian who has never lost his natural curiosity for active, meaningful experiences. A Professor Emeritus of Geology at the University of Saskatchewan who doesn't shy away from opportunities to explore Canada's diversity, his Haida Gwaii journey with Bluewater Adventures seems to have met his expectations.

Bluewater Adventures Trip Testimonial - Haida Gwaii

Later in our trip to Haida Gwaii, I started to record the impressions of the passengers we had been travelling with. Bob and his wife have travelleled extensively to the region. They are from BC, but had never spent time with the Haida, although they had travelled in the Pacific Northwest and journeyed to Alaska before. He notes how different the small vessel experience is from travelling on a cruise ship. He comments on how the small group journey is rewarding in ways a large cruise ship experience cannot aspire to be, because of the room for improvisation a Bluewater Adventures cruise implies, and because the small group makes for easier friendships among strangers. Overall, a great trip for him!

Tuesday, August 30

Going Below on Bluewater Adventures' Island Roamer

While passengers are having breakfast on our trip to Haida Gwaii, our valliant Captain makes his way to the engine room for his morning routine verifications. These will help ensure we enjoy yet another day of safe cruising aboard Bluewater Adventures' 68-foot ketch Island Roamer.

Saturday, August 27

Powwow at Piapot - Treaty 4

I had a chance to attend the Powwow at Piapot First Nation just North of Regina recently. It was a hot day, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Finding shade was a significant challenge. I like the way branches of trembling aspen were laid on the arbour structure to make the experience all the more enjoyable.

This setting right in the Qu'Appelle Valley is magnificent.

Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation... Making a Difference!

Just a quick note to let you know about the work of the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is a well-known entity in heritage conservation circles around Saskatchewan for the grant programs it offers in a number of areas. More recently, the Foundation has also published a series of conservation booklets on topics ranging from the conservation and restoration of roofs, windows, and basic principles of heritage conservation that respects nationally-recognized standards and guidelines. The booklets also offer practical insight into foundations repairs, among other suggestions.

These booklets are available in print form by contacting the Foundation at this address:

Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation
9th Floor, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 4H2

Or, simply download the booklets  directly from the SHF's website.

On the Foundation's website, you will also find the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation's Annual Reports, available for download as PDFs. These will give you an idea of some of the heritage projects the SHF has contributed to in recent years. The reports will give you a sense of how SHF grants have helped leverage additional financial resources for the benefit of communities, and ultimately the people of Saskatchewan because as a result of these heritage preservation efforts, future generations will be hopefully be able to enjoy and gain a more vivid appreciation of tangible and intangible elements of their ancestors collective journey in the part of the world known as Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation's efforts are:
  • informative because the staff is able to provide valuable technical guidance in heritage conservation.
  • collaborative because the SFH works with individuals, businesss, governments (municipal, provincial and federal) and other organizations to achieve heritage conservation goals and objectives.
  • economically significant because they help set into motion conservation projects that might not otherwise be financially viable, by providing an incremental funding solution that makes all the difference.
This beautiful rural chuch is located south south of the Qu'Appelle Valley, east of Highway #6 on the road to Piapot First Nation.
One of the most fruitful collaborations the Foundation has been involved in over recent years is its partnership with the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a philanthropic family Foundation based in New York which administers a conservation program to help restore and protect aspects of the natural and historic legacies of the North American continent. By the end the 2010 fiscal year, the Kaplan Fund had provided nearly $250,000 to conservation efforts of historic churches and other sites in the province, as matched contributions.

Thursday, August 25

Indian Head's Bell Barn - Rising Star in Saskatchewan's Heritage Tourism Landscape

Over the last few years, the Historic Bell Barn has gone from being one of Canada's most endangered heritage properties to becoming a fully-reconstructed replica, thanks a group of dedicated volunteers and substantial financial support from various levels of government, community and private investments. It is with great pleasure that I stopped by recently to take a closer look at what is nothing less than a success story for rural economic diversification through heritage.

"In 1882 the Canadian Pacific Railway pushed construction of Canada's first transcontinental railway across Saskatchewan. Before it reached the future site of Indian Head, a massive corporate farm was being built but a mile north of the railway right of way." (source: Bell Barn Society)

Originally an experiment supported by the federal government of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Saskatchewan's first round barn, was dismantled in April 2008 because of its deteriorating condition. It was reconstructed stone by stone on another portion of the original Bell Farm yard. Although the corporate farm only operated until 1889, the mythology of this farm has lived on in history books and through people of the Indian Head district.

Frank Korvemaker, a well-known figure in heritage realms is one of many volunteers who have invested thousands of hours, preserving through a replica what would have been lost forever, had it not been for The Bell Barn Society's efforts.

The original field stones were used as much as possible to rebuilt the structure in a manner which resembles as closely as possible the original plan. 

Where new stones needed to be used, they were gathered in a manner that most closely approximated original provenience and type of fieldstone.

The final product is well worth the field trip to Indian Head.


The first impression for visitors is one of entering a very special building indeed. The Bell Barn invites further exploration. It is a feat of heritage conservation engineering using a combination of field stone and post and beam weight-bearing structures, configured around a graciously laid out circle. I understand that much of the lumber had to be imported from British Columbia.

Creating a space that serves both interpretive and multi-purpose facility uses requires balance in design. A couple of original stalls have been integrated to the main floor space, to further enhance authentic character and the preservation of the original Bell Barn fabric.

The main floor space incorporates a theater, which combines as meeting space.

Artifact displays are plain, yet effective with a great combination of both of natural and artificial light sources.

All these aspects contribute to creating just the right atmosphere for meetings or programs to which a Prairie agriculture theme might be imparted.

Special care and attention was given to the Bell Barn's interpretive elements. It would be easy to travel back through time.

One of the real attractions of the Bell Barn is the loft area. I understand that the barn has been used avenue for a barn dance two or three times already. What a way to capitalize on the tourism potential of such a unique facility.

In the centre of the loft, stairs invite visitors to go up to a third level and visit the cupola.

The edges of the loft allow visitors to still "feel" the fieldstone walls.

The string of fanions lining the barn's structural element and subtle colour to the space.

 The view from the cupola frames evocatively the Prairie landscape.

Blending the feel of wood with that of stone touches on all senses.

Back on the main floor, one's curiosity for how this brilliant re-creation came into being can only be refuelled by the richly detailed interpretive panels on display.

 Congratulations on a job well done!

Wednesday, August 24

Indian Head, Saskatchewan - Sense of Place

Indian Head is one of four communities selected for Main Street Saskatchewan demonstration projects. Here are a few picks from the August 19 announcement on Grand Avenue.

The announcement coincided with Customer Appreciation Day, an opportunity for merchants to take over the town's sidewalks with food stands, flower pots, tables and chairs to create an attractive venue on that special day.

This sketch of Indian Head's downtown viewshed provided an attractive backdrop for local media. Global and CTV came out from Regina for the occasion. The Leader-Post published this article.

Copies of the Indian Head submission to the Main Street program were available for consultation.

Director of the Heritage Branch Carlos Germann (left) looks forward to seeing how Indian Head will be impacted by its Main Street Saskatchewan participation in two or three years time.
Heritage Branch representatives exchanged with community stakeholders. Citizens, community leaders, current and future partners in the four selected demonstration communities all hope their efforts will make a difference in fostering the kind of revitalization that will inspire other towns to embark on similar projects.

The Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports, Bill Hutchinson, an architect by trade, was obviously pleased to attend this significant event for the Town and for all those who believe in the economic, social and environmental benefits that can be generated from investing in a community's sense of place.

(Photo courtesy of Don Telfer) I rarely get to be in the pictures

(Photo courtesy of Don Telfer)

A couple of long time Indian Head residents were invited to say a few words about what living in Indian Head means to them.

(From left to right) Jonathan Potts, Director of Marketing, Tourism Saskatchewan; Don Telfer, Board Member, Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation; Garth Pugh, Manager, Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation

Evening Briefing Before Cape St. James and Kerouard Islands - Bluewater ...

This is our ritual each night after we moor for the night.. We gather in the wheelhouse. Captain Tom pull out the marine charts and goes over the day's journey, then he shares his thoughts on what tomorrow might bring. There is never a dull day, no matter what the day brings.

Tuesday, August 23

Wolseley, Saskatchewan - Sense of Place

Wolseley does shine...
A view from Banbury House
It is easy to fall in love with Wolseley.

The old Le Parisien Restaurant
The famous restaurant seemed closed when I stopped by, but the building still has good "bones".

One of the many heritage homes in Wolseley

A view from the commercial district
"Wolseley can still boast having two more elevators than many Saskatchewan communities," to quote a friend.

 A fine example of the use of fieldstones in a Prairie context.

Hard to beat this entrance point of view.

The Wolseley Courthouse
"The Wolseley Court House is the oldest existing court house in Saskatchewan, and the only one built during the period of Territorial Government. Designed under the direction of Thomas Fuller, Chief Dominion Architect, the building was constructed between 1894 and 1895 to serve the judicial district of Eastern Assiniboia.

Following its closure as a court house in 1909, the building was used as a jail and as a boys' detention home until 1921, when it became an annex to the newly constructed home for the infirm. The original metal flagpole still stands south of the building."

A view of the lake

The swinging bridge

A view of the Wolseley Town Hall and Opera House from the swinging bridge

Late summer light in the morning certainly lingers on nicely.

View of the weir
 This area sustained significant flooding this spring.

Wolseley Mayor Dennis Fjestad show us the extent of the flooded area
Wolseley Town Hall and Opera House
"In the early twentieth century, Saskatchewan was fueled by optimism and many small communities planned for a thriving future. Believing that growth was inevitable, many towns and cities built elaborate town hall/opera houses. The Town of Wolseley commissioned Manitoba architect, J. H. G. Russell, to design its Town Hall/Opera House, one of the most elegant buildings of its kind in the province. Some of the brick used in the building's construction was produced locally, while the rest was manufactured elsewhere, giving the building a two-toned effect. This variety of architectural elements contributes to the structure's impressive design. The building was restored between 1990 and 1993."

The dividing line between bricks that were fired locally (darker shade) and those that were brought in from Manitoba (lighter shade) is visible on the left edge of the photograph

Main Street announcement hosts get ready

Plenty of fruit punch

One of the Fire Insurance Plans on display
Wolseley has managed to acquire copies of the 1905 Fire Insurance Plans commissioned by insurance companies to help guide them in assessing risks of fire. These precious historical documents provide accurate depictions of town layouts and the built environment. They are coded and extremely valuable as a research tool for historians and heritage archaeologists. These are photocopies that were coloured to reflect the original system indicating the building materials that were used (wood, structural brick, brick veneer, stone and concrete). They show where liveries, coals sheds and boilers were located among a wealth of additional information. The earliest plans available for the City of Regina date back to 1911. Therefore these are rather significant.

The Honourable Bill Hutchinson, Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports announces Wolseley's inclusion among Main Street Saskatchewan demonstration projects

Wolseley has developed historic walking tours of the community

Cenotaph located next to the Town Hall and Opera House

The monument's design is recognized for the solemn character of the soldier's figure depicted

Garth Pugh, Manager, Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation (left) and yours truly
(photo courtesy of Don Telfer)