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Introduction[edit | edit source]
Maps provide place-names relating to primary source documents which genealogists use to trace ancestry. There are three main avenues of research to guide genealogists, they are the names of their ancestors, the dates or date ranges of main events in the lives of their ancestors, and the associated place-names where those events occurred.
Original place-names in the plains and prairies of North America, received First Nation naming which generally referred to [Saskatchewan Historical Geography geo-physical features] of the land. Explorers arrived, and drafted early maps of the continent before the countries of Canada and the United States of America were formed upon the continent. When fur traders arrived, at times these same First Nations place name holders were also used. With the establishment of fur trader posts and forts, these places were named by the respective fur-trade agency constructing these establishments. Then, next with the arrival of immigrants, their respective settlement, colony, village, or town received a name from the first arrivals to the area. The establishment of a post office became marked on early maps with the Canadian Post Office Name as did the early railway sidings and rail stations with the official railway name. The naming of post office or railway may alter the original settlement name.
Métis people received 'scrip' which entitled them to land holdings from the Dominion Government, and as early as 1870 immigrants could apply for homestead applications for a $10 filing fee, Immigrants first settled on their homestead to fulfill their homesteader obligations to obtain their land title or "Dominion Land Grant." This first settlement pattern resulted in persons settling at a distance from each other.
Economic growth resulted in the formation of villages and towns where blacksmith shops, stores, post offices, banks, churches, town halls, &c arose. One room schoolhouse districts were created in rural districts. Towns created two and three room schools to serve the growing population.
Towns were very close together as the distance which a horse and cart or horse and buggy could travel was limited. Farmers also needed to access elevators and train stations with their load of grain being pulled also by horse or oxen. Farmers, likewise could not travel great distances with such a load.
Between World War I and World War II the dirty thirties hit, and people desperate for employment for their very survival were attracted to the city. Smaller towns and villages began to disappear from maps.
After World War II, travel by motorized vehicle caught on, and highways previously "built on the square" were straightened. Roads 'built on the square' followed the township and range roads of the early survey system. Rail lines and trains could not be built 'on the square' as a long train needed a straight right of way. As highways were 'straightened' they followed the rail grade for east of construction and highway grading. With this mode of travel, urban centres such as cities and larger towns once again received new residents, and grew ever larger. Motorized vehicles meant that places no longer needed to be located close together for the convenience of horse and oxen. People were attracted to the amenities and conveniences which cities had to offer. Another cycle occurred of residents leaving smaller villages and towns, and again these vacant place-names which may be given the name 'ghost town' were no longer recorded on maps.
Historical maps, therefore, are valuable tools to the genealogist. They help to determine where the place-names are or were located which their letters and correspondence refer to, which the genealogist has uncovered in the family search. Historical maps may also show changes in place names. Historical maps uncover the small village or place-name no longer in existence. Perhaps, an address on a birth certificate or death certificate or other primary source document lists a place-name not on a contemporary map, then an historical map can come to the rescue, showing where this elusive place name was once located. Locating a place-name helps the genealogist in their further research. With a place-name, then it is easier to widen the search for cemetery records, baptismal records, or whichever primary source document is missing in the research to date.
What's Available on the Internet[edit | edit source]
Online Historical Map Digitization Project - a variety of historical maps, including a selection of Cummins maps, school district maps, and several years of Sask Wheat Pool Elevator maps (Sask Wheat Pool Maps adorned the walls of many settlers historically)
Government of Canada Natural Resources Geographical Names of Canada is a good source for place-names, locations with an accompanying maps and nearby places.
Saskatchewan City and Town map
Government of Saskatchewan Rural Municipality map boundaries
List of Rural Municipalities in Saskatchewan Provides links to information about the Rural Municipality. Names of RMs help for identification purposes. At times, an historical document may be referencing the RM as does the 1921 Census of Canada 'Place of Habitation' for one example.
SK One Room Schoolhouse Project if the historical document has a place-name which cannot be found on an historical map, and the place-name is not a rural municipality name, then the historical letter or correspondence may, in fact be referring to a school district! Many settlers corresponded and said they lived in 'such and such' a district, and this was quite often the school district. The SK One Room Schoolhouse Project becomes a good source to track down the legal land location of the school district. From this information the nearest RM/place-name/cemetery/church etc can be located for further genealogical research to find the relevant primary source document.
History[edit | edit source]
Like Manitoba and Alberta, Saskatchewan was originally part of the North West Territories. Its name was taken from the District of Saskatchewan which was an administrative district of the North West Territories created in 1882. The province of Saskatchewan encompassed portions of the land area of three NWT administrative districts, Athabasca, Saskatchewan and Assiniboia. In 1905 Saskatchewan became a province.
Sources of Records[edit | edit source]
Saskatchewan Archives[edit | edit source]
Three years of selected Cummins maps are located at the SK provincial Archives.
The Sk Provincial Archives has other historical maps if you search their online record search results, or their finding aids
- Saskatchewan Archives Board - Regina Office
University of Regina
3303 Hillsdale Street NOTE moving to 2440 Broad Street
P.O. Box 1665
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 3C6
- CLOSED Saskatchewan Archives Board - Saskatoon Office
All branches of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan are closed, and all the record holdings are now located in the City of Regina
Library and Archives Canada[edit | edit source]
Post Offices and Post Master website helps to locate placenames
University of Saskatchewan[edit | edit source]
Archives and Special Collections holdings contain Cummins Maps
Maps room holdings contain Rural Municipality maps, current and historical
Books[edit | edit source]
Atlas of Saskatchewan - two atlases were created; (1999) Atlas of Saskatchewan Celebrating the Millennium and (1969) Atlas of Saskatchewan. Selected maps are online at the link provided.
Barry, Bill. (2005) Geographic Names of Saskatchewan. People Places Publishing Ltd. Regina. ISBN 1-897020-19-2. General province map provided, a good source for locating a SK placename, a nearby location of a larger centre, the accompanying legal land description and given research on the name origin.
Russell, E.T. (May 15 1993) What's In a Name?: Saskatchewan Place Names. Fifth House Books; 3rd ed. with new foreword edition ISBN-10: 1895618983 ISBN-13: 978-1895618983. This is the original research project by grade 7 students at Henry Kelsey school corresponding with SK places to discover the name origins.
Other[edit | edit source]
Museums, city archives, local libraries are other excellent places to enquire about historical maps.
Rural municipality offices have the current RM map available for purchase. There may be historical RM maps available for purchase on inquiry.
References[edit | edit source]