History of Holiday Park & Surrounding Area
Grand Trunk Bridge
The Grand Trunk Bridge, a Canadian steel trestle railway bridge, spans the South Saskatchewan River south of Holiday Park. It was built in 1907-08. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway merged into the Canadian National Railway in 1920.
Water Treatment Plant
Saskatoon became a city in 1906, the same year that a combined power plant and water treatment plant was built at Avenue H and 11th Street. “Steam-driven pumps were used to raise the water from the river to a clay-lined sedimentation basin and detention chamber. The water was then drawn from the basin and pumped directly to the City mains by a steam driven high lift pump. In 1910 and 1911, new electrically-driven centrifugal pumps were installed and a fully equipped rapid sand filtration plant was built. This original filter plant, although upgraded in many ways, is still in service today. The Water Treatment Plant has undergone numerous improvements and expansions to serve the growing population and increasing demand for water from both the industrial/commercial and residential consumers. The most substantial growth period has been in the years following 1948, in which the plant capacity has more than tripled.”
In 1950 a 15 million litre (four million gallon) clear water reservoir was built at the Water Treatment Plant. Fluoridation of the water supply was approved by Saskatoon citizens in 1954. In 2004 the Water Treatment Plant announced an expansion stating “The Plant currently produces on average 130 million litres a day; in the future, we will need an average of 225 million litres a day.. …The Water Treatment Plant expansion is estimated to take 10 years.”
Arctic Ice Company
This company was located to the south of the Water Treatment Plant . See http://spldatabase.saskatoonlibrary.ca/ for images. The Arctic Ice Company was the leading supplier of ice for iceboxes in Saskatoon until the advent of electrical refrigerators in the 1950s. There is a small display of ice-cutting tools at the end of Boomtown Street in the Saskatoon Western Development Museum on Lorne Avenue South.
On September 20, 1924 the Honourable C.A. Dunning, Premier of Saskatchewan, laid the cornerstone of the Saskatoon Tuberculosis Sanitorium. The Saskatoon San operated from 1925 to 1978 at the south end of Avenue K. The 175-bed facility took in transfers from St Paul’s and City hospitals and patients from northern Saskatchewan who previously had been in Fort San in the Qu’Appelle Valley. A Nurses’ Residence was built on the west side of the property. Dr. Boughton was the medical superintendent. His house remains as a Municipal Heritage Property today – called the Bowerman House after its builder. The Saskatoon San closed in June 1978. For more information on the early fight against Tuberculosis, see https://www.wdm.ca/skteacherguide/WDMResearch/SKTuberculosis_TeacherGuide.pdf
More information on the Bowerman House:
This is an island in the South Saskatchewan River south of Holiday Park named for the first City Commissioner in Saskatoon hired in 1913 – C.J.Yorath. Children from nearby neighbourhoods, including Holiday Park, played along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, swimming or wading to Yorath Island.
In 2011, the Holiday Park Community Association proposed a name for the Circle Drive South bridge – Christopher Yorath Bridge or Yorath Island Bridge. The Association wrote:
“The reason for this choice is as follows: Christopher J Yorath, born in 1879, came from England in 1913 to become “commissioner of Saskatoon. An engineer by training, Yorath had extensive experience in town planning, housing projects, electricity, roads, bridges, and drainage. Dedicated to fiscal responsibility, Yorath also acted as City Treasurer, managing the city’s finances through the turbulent war years. He continually created new schemes regarding the cities development. His original city plan presented in 1913 included park space, civic area, roads, tramways, as well as “ring road,” a forerunner of today’s Circle Drive. He also campaigned for paved roads, increased energy capacity, adequate housing, and rail line consolidation. During Yorath’s tenure there was considerable debate regarding the role and responsibilities of civic administrators and politicians. Yorath defined his role as essentially a city manager independent of city council. This attitude brought him into conflict with five-time Mayor A. MacGillvary Young who felt that Yorath was usurping mayoral rights and duties.
Yorath resigned in 1921 to become city commissioner for Edmonton and later moved to Nanaimo where he died in 1932. Both Yorath Island south of Saskatoon and Yorath Avenue in the Avalon area of Saskatoon were named in his honor. Now nearly 100 years later his view of a ring road (Circle Dive) is happening. This is why we feel that the new bridge should be named Christopher Yorath Bridge or Yorath Island Bridge.”
The bridge was ultimately named the Gordie Howe Bridge.
Riversdale Swimming Pool
On July 15, 1925 the Riversdale Swimming pool opened, the first municipal swimming pool in Saskatoon. Kids from surrounding neighbourhoods, including Holiday Park, made good use of the pool. In 1914 a beach on the west bank along the South Saskatchewan River near the eventual home of the swimming pool had been designated a municipal bathing beach. The pool was viewed as a safer alternative to swimming in the swift, shifting river.
In 1932 Hi-Way Refineries, a locally-owned company, opened on 11th Street West. The facility could refine 300 barrels of crude oil daily. In 1955 Hi–Way Refineries was purchased by the Royalite Oil Company and renamed Royalite Hi-Way Refineries Ltd. By 1960 it had a capacity of 8000 barrels of crude oil per day, employing 120 workers, many of whom made their homes in Holiday Park.. In 1962 British-American Oil Ltd. bought controlling interest in Royalite. In 1969 BA Oil and Royalite Oil became Gulf Oil, announcing that Saskatoon’s 11th Street refinery would close the following year. Today it is a storage and transfer terminal.
Residents objected when Saskatoon developed a new landfill site on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River immediately south of the Holiday Park neighbourhood in 1955. The incinerator purchased in 1925 and situated at the A.L. Cole power plant site on 19th Street proved inadequate for the garbage disposal needs of the growing city. The City had initially sought to place the dump where the current Gordie Howe golf course is located, but residents from King George, Holiday Park and Montgomery Place protested the proximity to their homes and neighbourhoods. The City relented and moved the site a stone’s throw away, just south of the CN train bridge. For years, the entrance to the landfill was on Spadina Crescent. A second entrance was proposed on Dundonald Avenue in 1982. With the completion of Circle Drive in 2013, a new entrance to the landfill was developed on Valley Road.
Western Development Museum
In 1952 the Western Development Museum moved from a hangar at the airport into a new hangar that had been moved from Swift Current and reassembled on 11th Street West.
Queen Elizabeth Power Station
The Queen Elizabeth Power Station, a natural gas-fired station owned by SaskPower located on Spadina Crescent West, was called the South Saskatchewan River Generating Station until it was commissioned in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II, at which time the name was changed. On July 10, 1969 a sod-turning was held for an extension to the power plant.
Holiday Park Industrial Park
In 1980 the Saskatchewan Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) announced a 126-acre light industrial park west of the Holiday Park neighbourhood and south of 11th Street. SEDCO promised residents a “showpiece.”
Saskatoon French School
Located at 1441 Wellington Street, this French Immersion school replaced the former Saskatoon Public Schools’ Boughton School. The park around the school is still called Boughton Park, after the long-serving doctor who headed the Saskatoon Sanitarium.
The Boughton Elementary School was opened in 1960 and closed in 1983, later re-opening as the Saskatoon French School. http://sain.scaa.sk.ca/items/index.php/boughton-school-2;rad
St. John Community School
At 1205 Avenue N South, St. John School is a Greater Saskatoon Catholic School that opened in 1955.
Timeline for Saskatoon’s Innovative Sport and Recreation Complex
aka Riverside Holiday Centre / Gordie Howe Park / Holiday Park
1909-1912 Land speculators bought up land in Saskatoon’s southwest. At the time it was sand hills rolling to the river, dotted with aspen bluffs. Speculators dreamed of subdivisions with names like Parkside, Parkview and Transcona.
1913 Saskatoon’s real estate bubble burst.
1925 The Saskatoon Sanitarium for the treatment and recovery of Tuberculosis was built at the end of Avenue K South.
1931 By the early 1930s, the City has acquired most of the southwest property for non-payment of taxes. Some of the land was earmarked for a future 18-hole golf course.
1933 8 May – City Council voted to develop a golf course in the southwest corner of the city with labour to be undertaken through the Relief Board. The course was completed in time for golfers to get in a few rounds in the 1933 season. The business was leased to private operators.
1943 Golfers were not supporting the golf course in any numbers, but the City continued to plan for an 18-hole course.
1950s The post-war period that followed the Second World War was an exciting time in Saskatoon as the economy boomed and prosperity beckoned. Soldiers, sailors and airmen came home to marry and raise families. They needed houses and furniture and appliances to fill those homes.
1952 The Western Development Museum moved from a hangar at the airport to a new hangar building moved from Swift Current and reassembled on 11th Street West.
1953 Saskatoon City Commissioner H.W. Balfour announced an innovative and ahead-of-its-time idea for a sport and cultural complex in Saskatoon’s southwest. Referred to as a recreation centre, the concept included parks, picnic grounds, playgrounds, rinks, ball and football fields, a golf course, and an expansive new Western Development Museum. It was proposed as 297 acres (120 hectares) of land south of 11th Street West to the river, west of Avenue P. The City of Saskatoon gave the WDM $15,000 and a large tract of land in the proposed recreation centre area as a site for its new building.
1955 Saskatchewan celebrated its 50th Jubilee. The Western Development Museum staged a Pion-Era show on its 11th Street site. The show was billed as a threshermen’s reunion and celebration of prairie pioneers. The first trial run had been rehearsed the previous summer in 1954. The Star-Phoenix reported that 35 acres south of the museum had been sown to oats and brome, and that ground had been brushed and levelled to provide parking space for 5,000 cars.
1955 City Commissioner H.W. Balfour asked Saskatoon’s Planning Department to give serious thought to “a complete sport and recreation centre” in southwest Saskatoon. Balfour dreamed of a recreation area so diverse and powerful that it would draw visitors from around the city, the province and beyond our borders. It would be a tourist mecca. A Riverside Holiday Centre Committee was struck.
1956 City planner W.E. (Bill) Graham took up the vision and described the project as one that “will not only prove of great benefit to the City for its own sake, but to the City for the creation of a prairie, or even nation-wide, attraction.” With a visionary’s eye, Graham saw that the area would include large swaths of natural prairie “uninterrupted by busy roads or urban development.” He regarded a new Western Development Museum as pivotal, “as a major cultural and recreational feature of the City and as a showplace for the prairies.”
1956 June – Building Director W.E. Graham outlined plans for a new and expanded Western Development Museum and Pion-Era show facilities. The museum grounds would be extended to include an additional 70 acres. A new museum building would be built along with a pioneer village, Indian village and pioneer farmstead. A show ground would be built for Pion-Era. The first priority in developing the Riverside Holiday Centre was to “facilitate the preparation of the Western Development Museum.”
1956 A Saskatoon Star-Phoenix article entitled “300 Acres Tagged for Playing Area” reported that “City Council Monday night ear-marked 300 acres of city-owned property in southwest Saskatoon for a future park and recreation area in which the key showpiece would be the Western Development Museum. Aldermen at the same time authorized the museum directors to use the 70 acres immediately south of its building as a show-ring and parking space for its annual Pion-Era … and to start on its expansion plans in the area, including construction of a pioneer village, Indian encampment, a home farm and other features.”
1956 Summer – An area set aside as a picnic spot was a big success. Golfing sputtered along however.
1956 10 September – Saskatoon City Council passed a recommendation that the “area south of the Western Development Museum on 11th Street West be developed as the Riverside Holiday Centre. Brainstorming over the next few years considered elements like a campground, racetrack, a new Western Development Museum complete with prairie village, homestead farm and a Pion-Era show ring, hockey rinks, practise fields, a stadium, golf course, motor racing circuit, picnic grounds, football field, narrow gauge railway and other children’s rides, baseball fields, a boating lake, a riding club, an indoor swimming pool, soccer fields, lawn bowling, tennis courts, rifle range, bandstand, riding stables, picnic grounds, playgrounds and whatever else occurred to the members of the Riverside Holiday Centre Committee.
1957 Pion-Era Incorporated was struck as the show-arm of the Western Development Museum. An original Colony House on Main Street was moved to the museum grounds on 11th Street West. A fire-proof repair shop was built on the museum grounds south of the hangar building.
1958 April – Saskatoon City Council set up a committee to study the move of the Western Development Museum to the Exhibition grounds. Why? The Exhibition Board did not favour amalgamation of the Ex and Pion-Era.
1958 The Board of Trade, with an eye on tourist traffic, petitioned the City to develop tourist campground facilities immediately.
1959 19 July – The City Commissioner recommended that 25 serviced camp sites should be built as part of the Riverside Holiday Centre.
1960 January – Saskatoon City Council gave the Riverside Holiday Centre Committee the green light to proceed with park development.
1960 February – Land was designated for an 18-hole golf course and a design was commissioned.
1960 March – The Riverside Holiday Centre Committee recommended to Council that construction should begin with a football bowl and a tourist campground. The committee recommended a new name, Holiday Park, to avoid confusion with the Riverside Golf and Country Club on the City’s east side. A start was made to survey the museum’s part of the Holiday Park development.
1960 The Exhibition Board and its manager Steve McEachern reiterated their rejection to host Pion-Era on Exhibition grounds.
1960 George LeBeau was made Development Director for the Holiday Park project.
1960 30 September – The football bowl opened officially. The Bowl was a partnership project with the City and the Collegiate Board as a field for high school football. A high school game followed the official opening. The Saskatoon Hilltops also played a game in the Bowl on 1 October.
1960 October – Construction of the Kinsmen Arena got underway.
1961 February – The Saskatoon Hilltops were granted permission to play all their home games at the Bowl.
1961 Spring – Pion-Era’s plan to construct a harness racetrack did not sit well with the Saskatoon Exhibition Board, particularly its secretary Steve McEachern.
1961 June – In April, Piggott Construction of Saskatoon was awarded the contract to build a new concrete grandstand for Pion-Era. It was completed in June. The work included the stadium only, no racetrack.
1961 1 June – The campground opened. With an initial 25 sites, it was eventually expanded to 135 sites.
1961 18 June – The Kinsmen Arena opened. The arena was a partnership between the Saskatoon Kinsmen Club and the City.
1961 August – The 18-hole golf course design was approved and landscaping and irrigation work got underway.
1962 27 June – The golf course opened.
1960s Sometime in the early 1960s support for the Western Development Museum on its 11th Street site faltered among city officials. The Exhibition on Lorne Avenue complained that the city was not big enough for two major summer shows.
1963 February – The City held its Fire Festival on museum grounds.
1963 17 May – The baseball stadium, the Holiday Park Ball Field, opened. It was renamed J.F. Cairns Field in 1966. It used the stadium build originally for Pion-Era summer shows.
1964 January – A decision was announced to move the WDM to the east side of Saskatoon somewhere near the Exhibition grounds. The museum requested 40 acres of the Pansy Nine, part of the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club, near Dominion Park.
1965 The Holiday Park Fastball Field was built south of the grandstand. Later the field was renamed the Bob Van Impe Filed, in honour of long-time softball player and coach. Other baseball fields included Leakos Field in honour of Spero Leakon, and a group of six softball diamonds called Glen Reeve Fields after long-time softball player and coach.
1965 Sometime during the year, the WDM Board made a formal request to Saskatoon City Council that the museum move from 11th Street West to the Exhibition grounds. Controversy over this decision was fierce. The museum hoped for 22 acres of Jubilee Park, 11 acres from the Pansy Nine and 11 acres from the 18-hole layout. The Saskatoon Golf and Country Club reacted with the threat of a law suit.
1966 January – Saskatoon City Council voted against relocation of the Museum.
1966 22 July – Holiday Park was renamed Gordon Howe Park in honour of hockey hero Gordie Howe who went to school at nearby King George School.
1966 The baseball field was christened J.F. Cairns Field to honour a former Saskatoon businessman and baseball enthusiast, J.F. Cairns.
1967 Canada celebrated its 100th birthday. The Centennial Auditorium opened the following year in Saskatoon.
1968 18 January – A committee was struck with representatives from the Museum, Pion-Era and the Exhibition to decide a site for one Saskatoon summer show.
1968 The Duval Potash Mine opened southwest of Saskatoon along Highway 7.
1969 10 March – The Western Development Museum Board announced its approval of a move from Holiday Park to the Exhibition grounds.
1969 September – A consulting firm from British Columbia released the Morrow Report recommending that the Western Development Museum move to a site beside the Exhibition grounds on the City’s east side. Resistance to the move among long-time Museum supporters and volunteers was strong.
1971 February – The Museum board approved a $1 million building to be built at the Exhibition grounds. The board was promised five acres of land with the possibility of an additional 10 acres.
1971 The Saskatoon Golf and Country Club threatened the City with a lawsuit over the land allocated to the Museum.
1971 February – The speed skating oval opened. It was built as part of Saskatoon’s hosting of the 1971 Canada Winter Games. Named the Clarence Downey Speed Skating Oval, it honoured the man who helped organize the Saskatoon Speed Skating Club in 1943 and coach skaters for years after. Clarence Downey had skated for Canada in the 1956 Olympic games.
1972 The Western Development Museum moved from 11th Street to a small plot south of the Exhibition Grounds on Lorne Avenue South.
2014 The name of the Gordie Howe Bowl was changed to the Saskatoon Minor Football Field at Gordon Howe Park. The field was revitalized by the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, providing the City with a multi-sport facility for other outdoor sports such as soccer, softball, ultimate Frisbee and rugby. With funding by Friends of the Bowl Foundation, community donors and the City, artificial turf, a new scoreboard, lights and a sound system were added. A new clubhouse was opened in 2015 with dressing rooms for football and softball teams, and a concession.