Watch above: Forestry Farm Park little-known part of Saskatchewan’s history
SASKATOON – It’s a little-known part of Saskatchewan’s history – a local Saskatoon park is responsible for millions of trees that now grow across Western Canada.
The Forestry Farm Park was first set up by the Canadian government as the Dominion Forest Nursery Station in 1913 and for more than 50 years helped thousands of settlers make the Prairies their home.
“The Prairies can be very windy and if you have a little house on the prairie and no trees around it, it can be quite a harsh climate,” explained Bernadette Vangool, a walking tour guide at the park.
The new settlers needed seedlings and cuttings to grow trees. Between 1913 and 1965, the nursery filled that need, planting and shipping 147 million trees to farmers across Western Canada.
Up until it closed, the nursery grew ash, elm, maple and willow trees. Part of the nursery was then turned over to the City of Saskatoon.
“We actually had 360 acres of land, half of that was turned over to the City of Saskatoon for one dollar with the stipulation that they could not develop it, they would have to keep it has a park,” said Vangool.
The park was declared a National Historic Site in 1991 by the government of Canada and the superintendant’s residence was restored with a display depicting its history.
With the exception of the zoo opening in 1972, not much else has changed.
“The landscape of the park in lots of ways hasn’t changed very much. What happened is there is an overlay of other development on top,” said Peggy Sarjeant, a volunteer with Friends of the Forestry Farm House.
Along with being named a National Historic Site, the park was also named a Municipal Heritage Site in 1989.