Before refrigeration was easily available, a group of about a dozen farmers would take turns butchering a steer each week. The meat was then shared among all the families of the beef ring, providing a constant supply of fresh beef to all the members.
Thain, Chris. Cold as a Bay Street banker's heart: the ultimate prairie phrase book. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1987.
Buffalo Bones Near Regina
The Regina locality had been known by several names, the most common being "Pile o'Bones" and "Wascana", both derived from the abundance of buffalo bones in the area. According to Earl G. Drake in his book Regina, the queen city:
"... the Indians overcame the difficulty by trapping the animals in pounds where they could be slaughtered in large numbers. Pounds or corrals were constructed several miles north-west of the site of present-day Regina, where the banks of Wascana Creek are high and wooded. . . In the second half of the nineteenth century the Metis, as well as the Indians, did much slaughtering in the Regina area. In consequence, the creek was littered with countless buffalo bones, and so acquired its name. Variously called Tas d'Os, Pile o'Bones, Many-Bones and Bone Creek, it finally became Wascana - a corruption of Oskana, the Cree word for bones."
Regina's first export business was that of exporting bleached bones to eastern Canada to be used as fertilizer. In the early 1880's, a pile of buffalo bones six feet high, cylinder shaped and 40 feet in its diameter at the base, stood on knoll near the Mounted Police barracks. In 1886, $15,000 worth of buffalo bones was shipped to eastern refineries. The story also exists that the bones were shipped to Minneapolis to be used in sugar refining and as handles for cutlery.
Regina Leader Post, July 27, 1942.
Drake, Earl G. Regina, the Queen City. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1955.
Robinson, Marguerite E. Pile O' Bones: History of Wascana Creek. Regina: Saskatchewan Department of Culture and Youth, 1975.
Buffalo Meat - Regina's first industry
Buffalo meat processing was Regina's first industry. A story in the Morning Leader, March 3, 1923 describes the industry as follows:
"In February and March, 1883, Bonneau secured a kill of buffalo in the country 50 to 75 miles south of Regina. Twenty tons of the meat he offered for sale, fresh. Being unable to dispose of it all before the hot weather came, he conceived the idea of preserving it and evolved a canning process. Something went wrong with the process, however. Some of the cans exploded and the odour of the spoiled meat around the Bonneau plant, located on South Railway (now Saskatchewan Drive), caused such violent protest from the residents that the incipient industry died a quick death."
Regina Leader Post, October 5, 1964.
Under the Dominion Lands Policy, a homesteader could claim 160 acres for $10 and had to build a house and cultivate a specified area within 3 years.
Immigrants were attracted to the Canadian West by this government advertising in the late 19th and early 20th century. Homesteaders suffered many hardships. The absence of roads and doctors as well as drought and loneliness was too much for many settlers. Homesteading on the Prairies declined after WWI as immigration fell off and movement toward the cities increased.
Thomas Kavanagy from Ireland held the first homestead title in Saskatchewan. He died at age 83 and was buried at Lebret.
The Canadian Encyclopedia: Year 2000 edition. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999.
Regina Leader, November 14, 1924.
Early in the homestead period of western Canada, the Dominion Government developed a grid system for land descriptions in the West. The first Dominion survey of the West began in 1871. The prime or first meridian was chosen just west of Winnipeg because it marked the western limit of settlement up to that date. The basic grid is formed by the intersection of township lines running east and west and range lines running north and south. This square of land, 6 miles on a side, is then divided into parcels 1-mile square called sections.
A land description appears as Section/Township/Range/Meridian. To locate, start with the meridian and work west. Locate the range number. Go north to the township number and then find the section. The original land description from Regina was Sec.19, Tp. 17, Range 19, W of the 2nd meridian.
McKercher, R. Understanding Western Canada's Land Survey System. Saskatoon: Extension Division, University of Saskatchewan, 1978.
Tweddell, I. Land Subdivision System in the Prairie Region. 1975.
North-West Mounted Police
On July 8, 1874, 275 men with 310 horses began the march west to bring law and order to western Canada. Created in 1873, the North-West Mounted Police moved its headquarters from Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills to the town of Pile O' Bones in 1882. The NWMP barracks was established to the west of Pile O' Bones, later Dewdney Avenue in the city of Regina.
Regina was at one time home of the famous Musical Ride established in 1887. The NWMP Riding School, built in 1888 was converted to an ice arena. The Chapel is the oldest building in Regina.
The Force became known as the Royal North-West Mounted Police in 1904.
In 1920 the headquarters was moved to Ottawa and the name Royal Canadian Mounted Police was adopted. Regina's Depot Division remains as the Force's recruit training centre and home of the RCMP Centennial Museum.
Nilson, Ralph. Discover Saskatchewan: A Guide to Historic Sites. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 1998.
Regina Leader Post, October 19, 1940.
John Palliser led a government-sponsored expedition to the west in 1857 to investigate the region's natural resources and suitability for colonization. His party charted a triangular tract of arid plains whose dry climate, sandy soil and extensive grass cover was suitable for little else than cattle grazing. This area is known as Palliser's Triangle.
Potyondi, Barry. In Palliser's Triangle: Living in the Grasslands 1850-1930. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 1995.
Archer, John Hall. Saskatchewan, a history. , Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980.
Pemmican was made from thin slices of lean meat from large game animals such as bison, moose, elk, and deer. They were dried over a fire, or in the sun and wind. The dried meat was ground and shredded between stones, to which was added ground dried wild berries. Finally, melted fat, suet, or bone marrow grease was added to the mixture. It could be eaten as a soup, broth, stew, or as is. When available, leaves of the peppermint plant or wild onions were added for flavour. Its greatest asset was that it kept well.
Saskatchewan Archaeology, vol. 9, 1988.
Regina Leader, August 19, 1897.
Pile of Bones
In 1882, the site of the future city of Regina, capital of the North-West Territories and of the province of Saskatchewan, was selected. The chosen site was the point where the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway crossed a creek variously called Pile o' Bones, Tas d'Os, Manybones, and Bone Creek. The creek finally became known as Wascana from the Cree term for bones, Oscana. A few miles downstream, where its valley is more pronounced and numerous cutbanks occur, was the "Old Crossing", a ford on the historic cart trail from Fort Qu'Appelle to Wood Mountain and Cypress Hills. In that vicinity the buffalo bones had accumulated.
The pile of bones from the Cree Indian hunts was quite a sight to the early settlers. The bones resulting from the slaughter were carefully assembled into cylindrical piles about six feet high and about 40 feet in diameter at the base, with the shin and other long bones radiating from the centre to make stable and artistic piles. During the second half of the 19th century, the Métis also slaughtered large numbers of buffalo in this area, and the creek was littered with countless bones.
Saskatchewan History Vol. XIX.
Riddell, William A. Regina from Pile O'Bones to queen city of the plains, an illustrated history.
Burlington: Windsor Publications, 1981.
Saskatchewan's First Permanent Settlement
Samuel Hearne of the Hudson's Bay Company selected a site on the Saskatchewan River and built the first inland trading post, Cumberland House, in 1774. It was the oldest permanent settlement in the western interior and the first in what is now Saskatchewan.
Archer, John H. Saskatchewan: a history. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980.
Regina's Stanley Park was a half-acre of trees and grass in front of Union Station, owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Originally called "The Gore", it was planted on May 7, 1886 with suitable trees and shrubs at a gathering at which Lieutenant-Governor Dewdney and the town fathers were present. It was a real Arbor Day celebration and in this way, Regina's first park came into being.
Stanley Park provided an attractive gateway to Regina's first commercial center, which developed close to the train station. After 74 years this quiet, green spot was demolished in 1960 to make a parking lot.
Regina Leader Post, April 16, 1960.
Tunnels of Regina
The underground tunnels built by bootleggers and gangsters during the Prohibition era have been part of the history of the city of Moose Jaw. Regina too has its tunnels but probably not with such a glamorous history. Union Station has service tunnels that may have connected to other buildings at one time. Molson's Brewery has tunnels to the bottle shop and storage tanks. They were used for wiring, heating pipes and paths for employees. The Royal Saskatchewan Museum property may have tunnels originally intended for use by the Chateau Qu'Appelle. The failed hotel was never built but the foundation remains. Tunnels exist below the Legislative Building but appear to be used only for heating and cooling systems.
Regina Leader Post, February 8, 1996.
Heritage Regina Review, March 1986.
The first documented production of wheat in Saskatchewan was at Carleton House in 1815.
In 1903 researchers at the Indian Head Experimental Farm discovered a new variety of wheat with a shorter growing season. "Marquis" wheat production allowed farmers to harvest their crop before the imminent frost and became a popular choice on the prairies.
Saskatchewan History. Vol.33, no.1.
Regina Leader Post, February 20, 2003.