Ian Wilson 1976-1986, Allan Turner 1962-1974, Lewis H. Thomas 1948-1957, John Archer 1957-1962
SK Archives Photo R-A32899
Through the efforts of Dr. Arthur Silver Morton and the Canadian Historical Association, a proposal was approved in 1937 to preserve the records of the Government of Saskatchewan and to appoint an archivist . Accordingly, a Historical Public Record Office was established that year with Morton appointed as Keeper of the Public Record. The University of Saskatchewan provided space to house incoming records.
By the mid-1940s it was understood that a more formal and stable funding arrangement had to be established for the archives. Morton’s call for legislation and secure financial support was met with approval from the newly elected CCF government. The original Archives Act from 1945 created an arms-length board, representative of established stakeholders already engaged in documenting Saskatchewan’s archival heritage. Whereas the acquisitions of the Historical Public Record Office had been limited to public records, the mandate of the new Saskatchewan Archives Board was broadened to include all forms of records from both public and private sources. It allowed provincial archivists to examine all public and private records and to appraise and select those records of historical value for preservation in the archives. It established a system of accountability for information created and maintained by government, mandating that all public records be scheduled, and all records schedules be approved by committees comprised of acknowledged officials and elected representatives. For several decades, Saskatchewan’s archival legislation stood the test of time and occasionally served as a model for other jurisdictions.
The Saskatchewan Archives actively documents all facets of provincial life. Most people or groups record their activities, whether in the form of letters, email, diaries, minutes, financial records, photographs, moving images, maps and architectural drawings, memoirs, spoken traditions, or sound recordings. The oral accounts of aboriginal elders, the written records kept by settlers, the varied yet precarious physical formats of the early 21st century office and home, all such records when gathered together provide an immediate and unique source of information of Saskatchewan’s people. This wide-ranging mandate has allowed the Saskatchewan Archives to accrue what is recognized as one of the most comprehensive provincial archival collections in Canada.
Over the years the Saskatchewan Archives has gained a reputation for reaching out to the community it serves. It has participated in marking major milestones such as the 50th, 60th, 75th and 100th provincial anniversaries as well as the North-West Centennial. In conjunction with individuals and groups, the Saskatchewan Archives has taken the initiative to document the oral tradition of the First Nations and Métis people, the settlement era of the province and the multicultural nature of our provincial society. More recently, the Saskatchewan Archives has been using digital technology to allow its holdings to be brought to a wider audience through means of digitized records and utilizing the Internet.
With the passage of various acts pertaining to access to information and protection of privacy, the Saskatchewan Archives has played an increasingly larger role in the management of information from both public and non-government sources. The Archives Act, 2004, allows the Saskatchewan Archives to carry out this expanded role through an updated legislative framework. As Saskatchewan embraces economic, social and environmental challenges in the decades ahead, the Saskatchewan Archives strives to meet the needs of a modern government, and the people it serves.