Last week I spent 4 days on a mini Canadian road trip to Moose Jaw, Regina, and Winnipeg. The first stop on my trip was Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Moose Jaw is Saskatchewan, Canada’s fourth largest city. The city has a population of 34000 people and was founded in 1903. Before the city was founded Cree and Assiniboine people used the area as a winter encampment. The narrow river crossing, abundance of water, and wildlife made it a great location for a settlement. Fur traded and Metis buffalo hunters created the permanent settlement at a place called “the turn” at the now present-day Kingsway Park. In 1881 the Canadian Pacific Railway officially arrive, and then the settlement was officially incorporated as a city in 1903. While I was here I took some architecture photographs, and ate at a delicious restaurant called Rosie’s Diner.
I couldn’t find much information on Saskatchewan Courts (W.G. Davies Building), however it quite appealed to me. It seems to have a brutalist vibe to it, with its extensive use of concrete.
The Moose Jaw Court House is a two-story historic building built in 1909. It made the use of steel and brick construction. The building is the older continuously functioning courthouse in the province.
The Moose Jaw Fire Hall (138 Fairford Street West) is a heritage property that was constructed in 1909 as Moose Jaw’s first fire hall. The Georgian Revival style building was designed by W.A. Elliot, a Brandon architect, who was also responsible for designing Moose Jaw’s Alexandra School. It was used as a fire hall until 1979.
Moore Gallery (76 Fairford Street West) was designed by Regina’s architectural firm of Storey and Van Egmond. The Classical Revival style building was constructed in 1910, and served as the Land Titles Building from 1910 to 1998, and held the distinction of being the only one of eleven surviving Land Registry facilities in the province to retain its original function. The building was fully restored in 1999.
The Walter Scott Building (12 High Street East) is a heritage six-story building faced with brick and Tyndall stone. It is very reminiscent of Chicago Style architecture, and was designed by Regina’a architectural firm of Storey and Van Egmond. The building was originally completed for the Moose Jaw Times Herald, and was the largest commercial office building in Saskatchewan at the time of completion. The building features Turner Mushroom support columns that flare at the top to provide support for the floors above.
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church is a heritage two-story stucco-clad church that was built in 1900. The local Methodist congregation built this church in 1900, but out grew the building and sold it to the Roman Catholics who occupied it between 1907 to 1913. In 1917 it became an automotive garage for the Central Motor Company. It once again became a church in 1925. In 1927 the church underwent renovated by local architect Henry Hargreaves, and was renamed Knox Presbyterian Church, and again to St. Mark’s in 1967.
While I was here I visited The Tunnels of Moose Jaw. The tunnels are well known to have been used by Al Capone during the prohibition era. The tunnels were originally built to be used as utility tunnels for power and heating. Back in the days steam from boilers was used as heating. Steam engineers maintained the boilers and used the tunnels to avoid the elements (especially in winter). The original passageways ran under main street from the CPR Train Station to the Maple Leaf Hotel. In 1908 the tunnels were abandoned by the steam engineers and left empty. During the early 1900’s Chinese immigrants came to Canada to escape Chinese poverty and seek a better life. When they came to Moose Jaw they were employed as servants, railroad workers, laundry workers, or miners. They often hid in the tunnels to avoid “head tax” because they were unable to pay the tax due to their low wages. They also went into the tunnel to avoid the “Yellow Peril”. There were a lot of racist anti-Chinese people in Moose Jaw, which led to the Chinese escaping to the tunnels to avoid being killed or attacked. Unfortunately, racism still lives in our country, as well as globally. Following the “Chinese Era” was the “prohibition era” where Gangsters and rumrunners came to Moose Jaw and used the tunnels to manufacture alcohol. The Soo Line Railroad ran from Chicago to Moose Jaw and was frequently used to illegally transport the alcohol. It was rumored that the gangster Al Capone frequented the tunnels and the city of Moose Jaw. The tunnels were even used for illegal gambling. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos here, but I highly recommend visiting it. The acting was spectacular.
Capone’s Hideaway Motel is a themed hotel that has a 1920’s antique car perched on top of its sight, and is named after the gangster Al Capone, who was apparently a frequent visitor to the city, especially during the prohibition area.
The Old CPR Train Station, designed by Montreal architect Hugh G. Jones, is a Beaux-Arts style building built between 1920 and 1922. The building consists of a two-story waiting hall surrounded by single-story wings attached on three sides, as well as a six-story clock tower. The building is clad with Tyndall stone and red brick. The interior detailing includes wall medallions and reliefs of stone and terra cotta. The building is a protected heritage building, and currently serves as a liquor store.
While I was here I also explored some other buildings along the main street before having dinner at Rosie’s Diner. I had a nacho burger wrap, which was absolutely delicious, and had a great texture.
Be sure to check back soon for the next installment in this mini series, where we get to explore Regina. Also, I do plan on travelling again Internationally within the next month or so. I will either be going to Morocco & Portugal, or Bali, Indonesia.
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