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Where it all started – The Temperance Colony

August 5th, 2016

Where it all started - The Temperance Colony

Broadway was where it all started – the first commercial area in Saskatoon. From the beginning, Broadway was viewed as a vital component of the new Temperance Colony. The survey map of 1883 shows the street slicing through the townsite, following the old trail from Moose Woods to Batoche. Broadway and Main street were to be the focal point, but development shifted north down Broadway towards the river.

In 1881 a group of Ontario temperance activists formed the Temperance Colonization Society (TCS) with the intention of creating an agricultural colony on the prairies dedicated to the ideals of the Temperance Movement, a philosophy which blamed alcohol for most of the ills that plagued society. It was thought that by getting rid of the alcohol, the ills would follow.

At this time the Canadian government was also trying to stimulate settlement on the prairies by offering large pieces of land to colonization companies. For the TCS, this meant the new colony wouldn’t just be an agricultural and social utopia, but they would also have a chance to profit from selling land to prospective settlers. Soon, 3,100 colonists signed up for more than two million acres.

By June 1882, John Lake, a Methodist minister turned entrepreneur, was scouting out possible colony sites along the South Saskatchewan River. The first settlers travelled by railway from Ontario to Moose Jaw and then made the exhausting 160 mile trip to Saskatoon in horse-drawn carts.

The colony’s land grant comprised of only 313,000 acres which extended along both sides of the South Saskatchewan River from Clark’s Crossing (present-day Clarkboro) in the north to Moose Woods (present-day Whitecap First Nation) in the south. It was to include a centrally-located town site to act as a service centre for the surrounding farms. Based on advice from Chief Whitecap of Moose Woods, Lake chose the site now called “Nutana” as a place to make their home.

Temperance Street was named for the Temperance Colony Settlement and is a vital part of Nutana’s history.