Saskatchewan in Bloom: Horticulture on the Prairies

Saskatchewan in Bloom: Horticulture on the Prairies

With spring well-underway and gardening more popular than ever, the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan has assembled some of our favourite horticulture photographs.  As people turn to gardening for a relaxing and rejuvenating activity, they may enjoy viewing the different ways people explored gardening in the past.  From a source of food to a patriotic duty, horticulture has helped shape the history of our Province.  Gardens have always nourished the physical and mental health of Saskatchewanians; from a tasty vegetable patch to the timelessness of a flower in bloom.

Horticulture was very important to early settlers as both a source of food and a source of revenue.The top image shows a garden from 1890, while the next two feature Mr. Storman’s celery patch and Sam Meyers’ garden, both near Meadow Lake in the 1930s.Images top to bottom:R-B14128, R-A22278, and R-A22279

These photographs from the early 1900s show prairie vegetable gardens; note the emphasis on potatoes.  Images top to bottom: R-A6156, R-A16557-1, and R-A104

Gardens also provided entertainment and friendly competition.In this image from the early 1900s, H. Simons of Oxbow sits with his most recent crop.R-B138

Gardening could also be a family affair.Along with two garden-themed postcards from Lanigan, we feature images of two children working in their family gardens.The photograph on the top right shows a child picking strawberries on E. F. Spence’s farm in 1925.The photograph on the bottom left shows the results of gardening in Northern Saskatchewan in the 1930s.Images clockwise from top left:

R-A8294-1, R-A20397, R-A8294-2, and R-A8529

The Department of Agriculture created posters to inform about horticultural threats; in this case the dreaded Sow Thistle.Poster.II.14

Horticulture was also used by schools, educating students and providing practical skills.These images from 1913 show students from Midale School along with D. S. McCannel, a school inspector.Images top to bottom: R-A242-1, R-A242-2, and R-A242-3

The top photograph in this series features students from Edam School planting strawberries in 1914.The next two highlight the extensive gardens that grew around Creelman School in the 1920s.Images top to bottom: R-A2115, R-A6342-3, and R-A6342-1

Hospitals even utilized gardens, as shown in these images from the 1940s at Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford where the superintendent of the time considered physical labour in the garden and other areas as being part of the patient’s treatment.  Images clockwise from left: R-A6336, R-A6337, and R-A6338

While horticulture was originally practised for practical and educational purposes, it also became a patriotic endeavor.These “Victory Gardens” were popularized during World War One as a way to lessen supply strains for the war effort.Images top to bottom: R-A9952, R-A20901, and R-A9954

Adopted as the floral emblem of Saskatchewan in 1941, the Prairie Lily grows across large sections of the province and is protected from picking, digging, or destruction by provincial law.Images clockwise from top left: R-C5063, R-E726, R-C5010, and R-E3732

With the end of the World Wars, gardening continued as a civic and patriotic duty.Rather than helping feed troops, however, it now had the goal of improving cities and civic life.Images clockwise from top left: R-B6191, R-E2361, and R-C5503

These images, taken by Axel Petersen in North Battleford on August 4th, 1944, show some of the draws of urban gardens.Images top to bottom: R-C4298 and R-C4305

Click Image to go to - It's Your Yard, episode one

To conclude, please enjoy the first episode of It’s Your Yard, a five-part series created by Minds Eye Entertainment in 1995.  Hosted by Dale Simmons and filmed in the prairies, the series shows how to design and create water-conscious yards and gardens.  MI-5678