Focus on Historic Nutana by Steven Gibb
During a long career as a Saskatchewan journalist, including 17 years as editor-in-chief of The StarPhoenix, I helped to share the stories of the people of this province with readers for more than four decades.
Since retiring, I have now returned to two long-time interests — painting and photography, with the focus of the latter on sharing with readers the many iconic buildings and other structures we so often take for granted but which make this city such an enjoyable place to live in and explore.
But Saskatoon has a spotty record of preserving its heritage structures and it is my aim to help record them through the camera lens so others might enjoy them long into the future. At the same time, I hope this Calories exhibition might encourage building owners to avoid a wrecking ball when planning future renovation projects.
As one of Saskatoon’s earliest settlements, Nutana has had an impressive inventory of historic structures, although some have already met an untimely fate.
One of the most unfortunate examples was the Traffic Bridge, built in 1907 as the first combined automobile/pedestrian river crossing in the community. However, the bridge was never adequately maintained by the city and was demolished in 2016. A multi-million dollar do-over in 2018 saw it replaced with a similar but otherwise improved version — except for the name.
Another notable Nutana loss was the Farnam Block, built on Broadway Avenue at 11th Street in 1912, which housed several long-time businesses, including Lydia’s, a popular entertainment nightspot. Falling victim to the wrecker’s ball at the same time was the Farnam Block’s tiny neighbour to the west, the quaint “Merry Mansion” of Humphrey and the Dumptrucks fame.
However, the news has not been all bad in the neighbourhood. Nutana has many structures that have survived the century-plus mark, including Trounce House, the sixth-oldest home to be built in Saskatoon, hidden away at the back of the lot of yet another historic residence, the home of renowned music teacher Lyell Gustin on 10th Street East. And, of course, Nutana’s Little Stone Schoolhouse, built on Broadway in 1887 near today’s École Victoria School. The one-room school was dismantled in 1911 and relocated to the University of Saskatchewan campus where it remains to this day.
You can find many of this city’s historic landmarks on my website, www.gibbart.com, under the Saskatoon Icons drop-down menu.