Utopianism in Saskatchewan

Utopianism in
An “Insubstantial pageant,”
or signs of a better world?
Alex MacDonald
Humanities 260-C01
Winter 2015
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
-William Shakespeare
The Tempest 4.1.148-58
1. Introduction…7
2. Intentional Communities of the Settlement Period
Settlers from England and Canada
 Cannington Manor (an “aristocratopia” or “gentleman’s paradise”) and a
fictional response to Cannington Manor by Harold Bindloss...23
 Churchbridge (Anglican settlement)...26
 St. John’s College (Anglican Brotherhood of Labour)...27
 Barr Colony (1903 British settlement; co-operative plan) and fictional
responses to the Barr Colony by Harry Pick and Mary Hiemstra...28
 Primitive Methodist Colony (1880s colony near Fort Qu’Appelle)...32
 Temperance Colony (beginnings of early Saskatoon)...33
 Harmony Industrial Association (Hamona co-operative colony 18951900)...35
Settlers from Scotland and France
 St. Andrews and Benbecula (Scottish settlements)...36
 St. Hubert (“aristocratopia” or “gentleman’s paradise”)...37
Settlers from Eastern Europe
 Doukhobors (Russian sect settles some 60 villages)...39
 Esterhazy Hungarian Colony (example of the “immigration utopia)...40
 Jewish Colonization (9 colonies in settlement era) and a fictional account
of Jewish colonization by Clara Hoffer...41
 St. Joseph’s Colony (German Catholic colony near Regina)...44
Settlers from the United States…47
 Mennonites (1890s settlers; present day world development activities)...45
 Quakers (Society of Friends settled in Swarthmore)...45
 St. Peter’s Abbey (Benedictine monastery and college)...46
 Adamites (radical sect; nudism)...47
 Bostonia Colony (Americans settle in Glidden area)...48
3. Intentional Communities After World War I
● Hutterites...70
● Lajord Hutterite Colony...74
● Ben Hofer...75
● Samuel Hofer...80
● Matador Farming Pool...81
● Lorne Dietrick...81
● Ralph Barlow...84
● Marian Centre...86
● Cheryl Ann Smith...87
● Green Haven Sun Club (interview with Brent Galloway)...94
Ecological Community (Craik, Regina EcoLiving, Communities of
Tomorrow, Centre for Sustainable Communities)...98
St. Michael’s Retreat (ecumenical retreat house at Lumsden)...100
Virtual Communities (internet communities)...100
3. Utopianism in Saskatchewan Politics and Society
 Louis Riel...102
 Files Hills Colony...103
 Grain Growers (farmers’ organization in settlement era)...104
 Direct Legislation (agrarian radical idea to increase democracy)...105
 Temperance Movement (social reform through abstinence)...105
 Crazy Land (satirical 1930’s poem)...106
 Little Saskatoon (1930’s relief colony)...107
 On-to-Ottawa Trek (depression era search for a better life)...107
 United Peoples’ Church (Saskatoon church of late 1930s)...108
 Credit Unions (first credit union in 1930s)...109
 Co-operative Commonwealth Federation/CCF (1933 Regina
 Edward Bellamy...110
 Medicare (an example of “official” utopianism)...111
 Deana Driver (Weyburn Inland Terminal)...112
 Don Baron (Jailhouse Justice—grain marketing)...114
 Martin Pederson (interview with former Conservative political
 Doug Elliott (Interview with the publisher of Sask Trends Monitor)...119
 Oscar Seawell (interview with Professor Emeritus Oscar Seawell about
futures research)...126
4. Utopianism, Cities and the Work of Thomas Mawson in Saskatchewan and
Western Canada
Early Developments in Regina and Saskatoon
 Maplecrest (proposed Roman Catholic community in early Regina)...136
 Factoria (satellite city in early Saskatoon)...137
 Utopia Subdivision (area of early Saskatoon)...138
Thomas Mawson
 Calgary...139
 Vancouver and Victoria...143
 Saskatoon...l46
 Regina...148
City Developments After Mawson
 Wascana Centre...153
 Regina Campus...154
 Renaissance Regina...155
Haldane Heath...157
Meewasin Valley...157
Urban Parks (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Swift Current)...157
5. Cultural Expressions of Utopianism in Saskatchewan
Early Days to the 1970s
 Bertram Tennyson (essay “The Land of Napioa”)...159
 Will Paynter (early co-operator; utopian author)...160
 Ed Paynter (early co-operator; utopian author)...161
 E. A. Partridge (agrarian radical activist; War on Poverty)...163
 Frederick Philip Grove (novel Our Daily Bread)...169
 Grey Owl (novelist; environmentalist)...164
 Stephen Leacock (My Discovery of the West)...166
 Sinclair Ross (novelist—As For Me And My House)...167
 Paul Hiebert (Sarah Binks)...168
 W. O. Mitchell (novelist—Who Has Seen The Wind)...169
 Aldous Huxley (connection with Saskatchewan re drug use in
 Wallace Stegner (Wolf Willow)...171
 R. D. Symons (fiction – The Garden of the Manitou)...173
 Ken Mitchell (dramatist—Davin: The Politician)...173
6. Cultural Expressions of Utopianism from the 1980s to the Present
 Warren Cariou (Lake of the Prairies— Meadow Lake memoir)...176
 Trevor Herriot (River In A Dry Land)...177
 Ron Petrie (Leader Post fictional village of Cracked Axle)...178
 Guy Vanderhaeghe (novelist – The Englishman’s Boy)...179
 Robert Collins’s Butter Down the Well...180
 Tracy Hamon (poet)...181
 Treena Kortje (poet)...181
 Eli Mandel (poet)...182
 Bruce Rice (poet)...182
 Anne Szumigalski (poet)...184
 Earle Worby (poet)...186
 Betty Meyers (interview with Saskatoon painter and co-operator)...186
 Tower of God at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame...190
 Development and Service Organizations (international to local)...192
 McDonaldland...193
 WHOLifE Magazine (alternative lifestyles; interview with Melva
 Utopia Cafés (businesses, painter Roger Ing, television show)...197
 Saskatchewan Place names...199
 First Nations poet Beth Cuthand...199
 First Nations poet Louise Halfe...201
Street art...203
Chili for Children...203
Piapot First Nations Village...205
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
Appendix IV
Appendix V
Harmony Industrial Association-Excerpts from The Prospectus and
Mawson Plan Text-Excerpt…213
“Coalsamao” by E.A. Partridge-Excerpts…224
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation “Regina
Stephen Leacock’s My Discovery of the West-Excerpt…242
Chapter 1. Introduction
The word utopia was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 as the title of his book
about a voyage to a previously undiscovered island. It incorporates a pun on its Greek
roots so that it means both good place (eu-topos) and no place (ou-topos), a good place
which is no place, an imaginary country. This is one reason why dictionary definitions of
utopia often include words like visionary or impractical.
Historians of utopia generally trace its origins to stories of first places such as the
Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis or the Golden Age described in Hesiod’s Works
and Days. Before time began this was a state of happiness and harmony for humanity,
and utopia might be thought of as a way to try to get that back. Some give this a
psychological twist and suggest that we experience such enclosed security in the womb
before birth and longing for the utopian carries this deep memory of complete one-ness
with our environment.
The utopian tradition in its literary and philosophical sense moves from these
origins to famous works of the classical period around 375 B.C. such as Plato’s Republic
and Aristotle’s Politics. Plato emphasized that his Republic was an ideal, a thoughtconstruction only, and not a blueprint made to be put into practise. The idea of Heaven in
the New Testament reflects the same idea that the ideal place is not of this world, and this
was also true of St. Augustine’s City of God, around 400 A.D. A famous medieval
version of utopia is the “Land of Cockaigne”, which is a land out to sea far West of Spain
where rivers flow with beer and geese fly about ready-roasted on the spit—utopia as a
land of material pleasures and anything goes. More’s Utopia is presented as an island but
it has been discovered by the sea captain Hythloday, whose name means purveyor of
nonsense, so it seems clear that More does not propose this as a real place or a blueprint.
Yet there are two aspects of More’s Utopia which are in tension with this. One is
the fact that Utopians are ready to learn new things and to change their institutions in
accordance with that learning. The second is that the Utopians respect science, believing
that God will not disapprove of studying the world but will take such study as a
compliment to His creation. These ideas are critically important because they contain
within them the seed of the idea of progress, the idea that history is not merely a recurring
cycle of the same things but may be development in an upward line.
This idea of progress was given a kind of official proclamation in Bacon’s New
Atlantis (1626) where there is a scientific research establishment working to the
accomplishment of “all things possible,” and there is a lengthy list of wonders for the
early 17th century, including flying machines and refrigeration. The notion that the better
world we seek is not located in the distant past, in a philosophical construct, in Heaven
after death, or on some distant mythical island, but may be located in the future of the
real world we know, is a tremendously powerful idea. It implies, for example, that
human nature is not inescapably bad or sinful, but that we may improve our nature
through education. It implies that choices we make today may result in a substantially
better world tomorrow. In fact, this is also a characteristic of the new progressive idea of
utopia, that it refers not to an ideal or perfect state but simply to a substantially better one,
moving it from the realm of the impossible to the possible. In this sense the American
Declaration of Independence may be thought of as a utopian document. It suggests goals
of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but of course the pursuit of happiness is
really a process, a suggestion that we can make a progress to happiness, in the future.
Great utopian works of the 19th century, such as Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 20001887 and William Morris’s News from Nowhere, locate their utopias in the future and as
the consequence of clearly specified historical processes.
There was a change in the 20th century and the historical process transformed
from progress to regress. Chad Walsh suggested some reasons for this in From Utopia
To Nightmare, including the idea that science and technology, far from being a boon to
humanity and ushering in utopia, would actually lead straight to dystopia—the use of
science and technology in the First World War seemed to bear this out. Thus, the most
famous works were dystopias (not best possible places but worst possible places),
including Aldous Huxley’s frightening tale of genetic engineering Brave New World
(1932), George Orwell’s equally frightening dystopia of totalitarian dictatorship Nineteen
Eighty-Four (1948) and more recently Margaret Atwood’s novel about a nightmarish
future for women (and men) The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). There have been positive
utopias too, such as Aldous Huxley’s Island (1962) or Ursula K. Le Guin’s The
Dispossessed (1974) but these have been “ambiguous utopias”—good places which still
have difficult problems to work out.
A branch of utopian studies which overlaps with History and Sociology is the
study of the “intentional community,” people living together in community for some
purpose which is defined as different and better in some way. Two ends of the historical
continuum might be represented by the Christians who were urged in the Acts of the
Apostles (2:44) to have all goods in common, and the Saskatchewan Hutterites of today
who try to live by precisely the same rule, because this is felt to lead to a better life than
the mainstream society in which people can be preoccupied with possessions. In between
these examples are thousands of intentional community experiments including monastic
establishments, communes of 17th century dissenting Protestants, transcendentalists at
Brook Farm in mid-nineteenth century Massachusetts, dozens of colonies in California in
the late 19th century, co-operative colonies like Hamona in Saskatchewan (1895), singletax colonies like Fairhope in Alabama (1894), and “hippy” communes of the 1960’s.
There are also part-time intentional communities and now, with the internet, virtual
Obviously, the definition of "intentional community" encompasses wide variation.
The 1990-91 edition of the Directory of Intentional Communities noted that "any group
of two or more adults which chose to call itself a community was welcome to
participate," leaving it up to communities themselves whether to be included. It went on
to give a warning which is helpful for definition too:
It can't be overemphasized that the groups depicted in this Directory are not
Utopias realized. Many of them are quite wonderful places to live and work,
places where the residents share a common vision or purpose. Most are ripe with
good intentions and dedication, and are fertile environments for personal growth
and work toward the greater good. Most also suffer occasional bouts of such
human failings as egocentric behaviour, power struggles, miscommunication, and
unrealistic expectations.
The intentional communities mentioned in this volume aimed or aim to achieve a purpose
which is different from, or more "intentional" than, that of mainstream Saskatchewan
society; yet they are also part of the social fabric, both set apart from and part of the
larger community.
The link which connects utopia, intentional community and Saskatchewan, is the
human ability to imagine conditions which are better or worse. We do this every day
when we think of a holiday to come or of a potential illness. When we extend this to the
social and political sphere we can imagine a better society or a worse one. When we
extend this even further we can imagine a utopia or a dystopia. Some of the examples in
this collection are limited and local hopes, such as a desire to preserve ethnic identity in a
colony settlement. Some are more developed hopes for social improvement, such as a
particular effort in city planning. A few are full-blown imaginings of a utopian world,
such as a scheme for a co-operative commonwealth. Many other items borrow imagery
from the utopian tradition to reflect hope or skepticism abut the possibility of a
transformed world. The excerpts in the appendices include examples of utopian thought
in and about Saskatchewan.
An account of utopianism in Saskatchewan, like the history of the province itself,
must begin with the geography and the land as it has evolved, especially as important
features were shaped by the retreat of the ice some twelve thousand years ago. The first
human inhabitants were the aboriginal peoples of the plains and the Northern forests, who
lived here for thousands of years in harmony with their environment. This was not utopia,
of course, but the aboriginal ways of living with nature suggested to early European
explorers, like Amerigo Vespucci, ideas of the Golden Age and the Garden of Eden. But
this was on North America’s East coast, and the incursion of European settlement, with
imported diseases and the technology of the gun, soon ended such Renaissance dreams of
primal innocence. European contact with Saskatchewan started with fur-traders trekking
across the West in the 1700’s, but settlement really began in the 1870’s and 1880’s with
the coming of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway.
In this first settlement period, from about 1880 to after the First World War, the
utopian impulse appeared in the form of many intentional communities. These manifested
different degrees of intentionality, ranging from ethnic/religious settlements whose aim
was merely to find a better life than had been available in the old country, to colonies
which had some particular social agenda such as temperance or co-operation. A second
sign of the utopian impulse at this time was a strong current of “social dreaming” which
was poured into political causes such as the Patrons of Industry and the Grain Growers’
movement. There was a women’s section to the Grain Growers so the emergence of
feminism was a trend too, culminating when Saskatchewan women got the vote in 1916.
A third sign of utopian thinking appeared in plans for Saskatchewan’s new cities, from a
subdivision actually called “Utopia” in Saskatoon to the Mawson plan for Regina as a
garden city.
The 1920’s and 1930’s were decades of relative prosperity and poverty in
Saskatchewan, and, as elsewhere, the stock market crash of 1929 was a powerful
symbolic event. Despite the better conditions of the twenties there was still plenty of
agrarian discontent about the subjection of farmers to Eastern capital and world markets,
discontent which was reflected in E.A. Partridge’s War On Poverty, of 1925, or Will
Paynter’s Trumpet Call of Canadian Money and Progress, which appeared in four
editions between 1921 and 1932. The Depression hit agricultural Saskatchewan
particularly hard, even in the cities—my mother recalls walking downtown in Regina and
crunching through grasshoppers on the sidewalk. Such conditions seemed to call for a
socialist alternative. Selections from the utopian writings of Edward Bellamy were
distributed to farmers and in 1933 in Regina the “Manifesto” of the new Co-operative
Commonwealth Federation or CCF was adopted. And at a practical level the institutions
of a “co-operative commonwealth” were beginning to be built, for example with local
precursor schemes to medicare or the first credit unions.
After World War II there were many more signs of this public enterprise
ideology. On an individual scale, returning veterans got together to establish co-operative
farms, like Matador in 1946. On the public level, the CCF had been elected in 1944 as
North America’s first democratic socialist government, and in the years that followed
public corporations were established or expanded to deliver insurance service, bus
service, and utilities, and to foster economic growth. In this area of public enterprises
there is a pretty clear historical line from the Constitution of the Harmony Industrial
Association of 1895, to the “Regina Manifesto” of 1933, to the establishment by the CCF
of new Crown corporations to serve the community, to the establishment of the first
official medicare program in North America in 1962. In the years before 1962
Saskatchewan was enjoying some of the post-war prosperity signified by automobiles
and suburbs, and a sign of future prosperity was the beginning of exploitation of
substantial oil and gas reserves.
The 1960’s was a time when utopianism was in the air, reflected in different
facets of a popular culture which was becoming pervasive. Traditional forms, such as
novels, continued; Aldous Huxley’s 1962 utopia Island has an interesting Saskatchewan
connection due to drug research being carried out in Weyburn. Popular songs also carried
the idea of utopia, or satire of it, in examples such as John Lennon’s “Imagine” or
Saskatchewan songwriter Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” about the paving of
paradise to put up a parking lot. On television in those years there were images of popular
movements and demonstrations around banners with utopian ideals such as peace and
love; but this cultural yearning for an Age of Aquarius was juxtaposed with horrific
images of war and pollution. A local example of this juxtaposition was a page in the
University of Regina student newspaper The Carillon in September of 1968—an article
about extreme poverty in the Northern Saskatchewan village of Sandy Bay is placed
ironically above a famous quotation from Pierre Elliott Trudeau: “We will build the Just
Society.” Although most news events happened elsewhere than Saskatchewan there is a
sense in which the 1960’s is the first decade when the history and culture of a particular
place becomes interwoven with what is happening in the world at large, a sense of
globalism fostered by the technologies of television and the jet plane and by the famous
views of planet Earth from space.
The political history of Saskatchewan since the 1960’s has meant more or less
pronounced swings between left and right ideologies. The socialist CCF (now the New
Democratic Party or NDP) government was replaced in 1964 by the Ross Thatcher free
enterprise Liberals. Thatcher liked to say that the only thing wrong with socialism is that
it doesn’t work. Partly on account of Thatcher’s proposal for a deterrent fee upon the
increasingly costly medicare program the NDP were re-elected in 1971 under Alan
Blakeney, and this term saw extensive public investment in resource extraction in the
form of potash mines and oil. Grant Devine’s Progressive Conservatives, another free
enterprise government, were elected in 1982 and governed through the 1980’s when
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had a large profile in international economic
news. The NDP were re-elected again in the 1990’s under Roy Romanow, who was
succeeded by Lorne Calvert. Now in 2015 Saskatchewan has been governed for a number
of years by the Saskatchewan Party, founded as a coalition of right-of-centre groups. Yet
despite these changes over the decades it has been clear that all governments since the
1960’s have felt the strong pull of the economic centre, of an economy which would be
the optimum mix between public and private enterprise. One of the characteristics of the
earlier social radicals, such as the Paynter brothers of Hamona Colony, E.A. Partridge, or
the drafters of the “Regina Manifesto” was a sense of sweeping out the corrupt old
system and bringing in the New Jerusalem of social harmony. But this more recent
history, although it has certainly meant different emphases on the left and right, has been
more a question of a “civic improvement zone” than of the New Jerusalem.
It is interesting to ask what might be the reason for this shift? Is it because social
dreamers have lost their dream, their utopia? Is it because we have become sophisticated
about the complexity of the world and can no longer think in terms of broad-brush
solutions for utopian change? Is it because we have become too entrenched in
materialism? Or, rather, is it because we have achieved—with social safety nets,
medicare, public services—a condition which to people of 150 years ago would truly
have been utopian to contemplate, and we don’t want to throw this baby out with any
political bathwater. This is the sort of case made by Joseph Heath in The Efficient
Society: Why Canada Is As Close To Utopia As It Gets. And yet there are many who
would disagree with such an analysis, seeing us verging upon disaster rather than upon
utopia. Like the 1960’s, this world of 2015 is also a profoundly divided time.
What about the future of Saskatchewan? Newspapers and news programs
frequently introduce utopian and dystopian glimpses of the next century: a long cycle of
prairie drought will cause desertification and Saskatchewan in one hundred years will be
depopulated; global warming will result in the flooding of coastal cities and millions will
move to Saskatchewan; a new city will be built in Saskatchewan’s North, an ‘arcology’
or giant structure which will run entirely on solar and wind energy, recycle everything,
and offer the excitement of a big city in the midst of pristine wilderness; Saskatchewan
will continue to be integrated into a global economy and culture as immigration rises;
population will continue to pour across the Alberta border to swell the size of Calgary
and Edmonton; population will begin to flow back to Saskatchewan as an ethanol
economy is established; children in Saskatchewan schools in one hundred years will have
instant access to any information by means of devices allowing brain-computer interface;
straw-bale houses in the “eco-village” of Craik will become a major trend and start an
ecological revolution across the province, leading eventually to the end of urban sprawl,
renewal of public transit and energy derived entirely from clean, renewable sources;
rather than disappearing the car will become more ubiquitous, but it will be smaller,
faster, cleaner and more flexible—for example one could drive the car into a transport
tube in Regina, be in Saskatoon in minutes, then drive out for normal local travel around
the city. In many such glimpses we can discern the power to imagine producing hopeful
utopian visions or fearful dystopian visions. Another view is that although the
technology and the economics change, population patterns change, ways of living
change, the fundamental human problems and challenges for Saskatchewan in 1915 are
essentially still the same in 2015 and will be the same in 2115—to achieve a safe,
productive and just community, in which there is a healthy balance between the rights of
the community and the rights of individuals.
This suggests a dialectic which appears in many of the items in this volume, the
dialectic of identity and co-operation. Many of the early colony experiments were aimed
at preserving and defining identity, usually ethnic and religious. This aim has often
provoked the criticism that the intentional community cannot be utopia because it solves
its problems by withdrawing from the broader society around it, and is thus an escape
rather than a solution. On the other hand, proponents of community have argued that the
small experiment may be like a model to show the way for the broader society to follow.
Not only was this tension of identity and co-operation important for colonies of the
settlement period but it is an extremely significant issue today. It is significant, for
example, for the Hutterite Colonies throughout the province—to determine how strong
they must be in preserving their own ways or how much they can co-operate with the
broader society by adopting its ways of doing things. This is also a critical issue for
Saskatchewan’s First Nations community; sometimes to co-operate might be to
participate in destroying one’s own culture, so there is a fine line and a delicate balance
must be sought for each issue.
The challenge of planning is related to utopian speculation in an obvious way—
both are attempting to sketch or suggest that which is not yet and both involve the
dialectic of identity and co-operation. For example at the provincial level in the early 21st
century there is a continuing trend towards decline of small towns as people move to
cities or next door to Alberta; should we try to preserve our small town identity by
putting money into declining towns, or should we co-operate with the apparent current of
things? Another example is city planning, an area with a long history in utopian thought.
The obvious trend of recent years has been for the establishment of “big box” retail stores
in suburban areas, and consequently a decline in the significance of the downtown area
as the economic centre of the city. Many people regret this. Should we try to preserve
that downtown identity with tax breaks or other incentives to come downtown, or should
we co-operate with the suburban, auto-driven trend and conclude fatalistically that we’ll
just have to wait until fuel costs make public transit and downtown viable again? Or, in
these kinds of cases, is there some creative synthesis or compromise which would allow
us to maintain a strong identity while at the same time co-operating productively with the
currents and trends of a broader, increasingly global, society?
What relationship is there, or should there be, between utopian thought and
practical action? The interviews included here with Oscar Seawell and Doug Elliott
touch on futures studies and on the difference between prediction and projection. A
recent book by Dale Eisler traces the history of the Saskatchewan myth—the idea that
Saskatchewan has a great but as yet unfulfilled destiny—and recommends finding the
right balance between the myth and the reality, so as not to be proceeding on false
expectations. It was noted above that the New Jerusalem rhetoric which could be heard
both from radicals and sitting politicians up to the 1950’s has been superceded by a more
accommodating tone, a commitment to a mixed economy and in general to a middle
course in public policy; for example, the trend now is neither to rigidly enforce public
medicare as the only option, or to scrap it and let the private system take over, but to find
a workable blending of the public and the private to provide the optimum service to
Yet there are moments when we seem to transcend the sensible middle course
which could be supported with rational analysis, forecasting and compromise. For
example, consider how frequently we hear people express astonishment at the Legislative
Building in Regina or the greystone buildings of the University of Saskatchewan in
Saskatoon, not so much at the buildings themselves but at the vision of those pioneers
who decided to build them. Looking around that world of 1906, with horse-drawn
farming and scatterings of frame houses on mud streets, what was there to justify such
solid statements of confidence in the future? A more recent example is the beautiful new
home of the First Nations University of Canada on the campus of the University of
Regina. This building asserts that a people who were colonized and oppressed will
struggle through their transition and become proud members of a global community.
Such buildings, like the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, are expressions of our
values, expressions of our myths and utopian visions, and help to define who we are.
And we are, as Aldous Huxley liked to say, “multiple” creatures. This means that
in our daily lives and in the larger worlds of economic enterprise and public policy we
need not one strategy but multiple strategies. On some issues we need to be scrupulous
and count every real or metaphorical penny. On some issues we need to seek the
appropriate balance and compromise between competing interests. And on some issues
we need to choose the highest among the possibilities and take a leap of faith. We may
not believe, literally, that utopia is coming, but we do believe, strongly, that our duty is to
take the high road and come as close as we can to the ideal. Like the cloud-capped
towers in Prospero’s speech, that ideal will constantly be dissolving as we approach it.
Indeed, maybe that is for the best. I spoke with Everett Paynter, a grandson of Will
Paynter who was a co-operative colonist in Saskatchewan’s early days. Everett said he
had two comments about utopia, when he heard I was working on this book. One is that
we’re never likely to reach it. And the other is that if we did reach utopia we probably
wouldn’t like it, because it seems to be the struggle which keeps us interested and striving
to do better, and which brings meaning and vitality to our lives.
Some traditional scholars might say that the only real impedimenta ad utopiam-impediments to utopia, are the things that make utopia impossible, because anything
perfect is impossible to achieve in this life. However, most utopian scholars today do not
equate utopianism with perfectionism but with significant improvement. For example,
utopian bibliographer Lyman Tower Sargent notes that Plato’s philosophical Republic,
an Ideal Society by definition, is one of few works in the whole tradition which could be
defined as perfect. Perhaps some traditionalists would be more willing to accept a new
word to express the idea of significant overall improvement to society, not merely a
minor improvement and not merely a partial one. For example, a coinage like “optopia”
could express the optimum or best possible place, including the notion that people would
have to opt for it; the opposite might be pessitopia. Perhaps the traditionalist would find
a reason not to like "optopia" any better than “utopia,” since a utopia by any other name
might smell as bad. The English "bestplace" and "worstplace" might express the notion of
a significant and comprehensive improvement or decline, while gently leaving behind
some of the historical baggage.
The traditional pessimistic or realistic view--depending upon whether you are a
glass half-empty or glass half-full type of person, points utopian studies to a useful
question: what are the impediments to achieving a significantly better condition of
society? This baseball-diamond paradigm suggests where we might look:
First base consists of the physical and material impediments, including the lack of
necessary resources of whatever kind. Second base represents the individual
impediments, sometimes discussed under the heading “human nature.” Third base
represents the political and social impediments, including such issues as democratic or
autocratic systems for decision-making. Home plate represents more abstract
impediments, such as a traditional religious view that radical improvement is impossible,
extreme commitment to a particular ideology which excludes many people, or simply a
lack of "faith" that humans are capable of radical improvement. Any teacher of utopian
literature who has asked students whether they think a significantly better world is
possible is well-aware of what is overwhelmingly the majority view, and that even among
young people there is stark realism, if not pessimism, about the prospects for humanity.
It is well-worth studying utopias and attempts to bring them about, to try to
understand why most have been only partially and temporarily successful in the best
cases and terrible dystopian disasters in the worst cases. However, it may be that
negativity about the propects for utopia is often founded upon the definition of utopia as
ideal perfection which, as noted above, everyone knows is impossible. But if our human
earthly project is conceived minimally as avoiding "worstplace" and more optimistically
as striving for "bestplace," then perhaps there are three questions which we need to
(1) what is the best state of global society we can imagine (and perhaps before too long,
inter-planetary and inter-stellar society)?
(2) what are the impediments to achieving "bestplace"?
(3) what is the plan to gather and mobilize our resources to overcome impediments and
achieve the goal?
"Bestplace," even if we insist on defining it as best possible rather than perfect, will still
be a receding target, always moving away from us, like the horizon, as we approach it. Its
"cloud-capped towers" will begin to dissolve as we arrive and reach out to touch them.
But it is as certain as anything can be in human life, that if we do not have a vision of
"bestplace," and if we do not use our best efforts to work toward it, we may get at best
mediocrity. The forward momentum we can achieve toward "bestplace" will also prevent
a vacuum in which power-seekers might be able to achieve their versions of
"worstplace." The stakes are high for us as a species, whether at the local level or at what
may someday be a federation of planets.
2. Intentional Communities of the Settlement Period
This chapter offers a synopsis of Saskatchewan intentional communities from
1880s to World War I. Among Settlers from England and Canada, Anglican settlers were
responsible for Cannington Manor, Churchbridge, St. John’s College and the Barr
Colony. Methodists founded colonies in the 1880’s near Fort Qu’Appelle and at the site
of what became the city of Saskatoon. Co-operators from Beulah, Manitoba, founded a
secular colony experiment named the Harmony Industrial Association. The Scots
crofters settlement at St. Andrews and the colony of young French aristocrats at St.
Hubert represent low and high extremes on the socio-economic scale, while several
ethnic and religious groups from Eastern Europe were all fleeing from persecution in
their homelands. As well, there were a number of groups from the United States.
Settlers From England and Canada
Cannington Manor is one of the best known of Saskatchewan’s community
experiments. It was an attempt to recreate on the prairies an entire way of life associated
with the English country manor, a way of life which has been described as the countryhouse utopia. The country-house utopia was not, at its best, merely an attempt to escape
from reality into a private arcadian paradise, but it was a serious conservative response to
the social disintegration brought by industrialization, and it was reflected implicitly in the
writings of social observers such as Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin. Its values were
those of the older, essentially medieval, world before mercantilism: order and hierarchy,
an agricultural economy, an organic relationship with nature and among humans. Such
views did not, of course, prevail in the nineteenth century. Captain Edward Michell
Pierce, a gentleman and a soldier who lost his money in a London bank failure, was both
a sign that the new industrial order had emerged and one of its victims.
Cannington Manor was established by Pierce in 1882. He wrote back to England
advertising an Agricultural College to train young men of good birth and education” for
$500-1000 per year (Rasporich 40). This idea (which anticipated Isaac Barr’s scheme for
agricultural training—see Barr Colony) was consistent with Pierce’s overall vision for
Cannington Manor and it was also a very practical help to survival in a frontier economy.
The Britishness of that vision is pointed up in a humorous story about Pierce's
running into a young girl in one of the barns. What nationality are you? he asked, and
she replied--Canadian. Nonsense, he responded. Where were your parents born?
Scotland, she replied. Very well, said Pierce, you are Scottish. Being born in a barn does
not make you a horse (Dunae 158-59).
In 1884 Pierce founded the Moose Mountain Trading Company and Cannington
Manor became, in effect, a “company town”. The Company constructed many of the
buildings in town, and also provided “post office facilities, building materials,
implements, seed grain, purebred cattle and sheep, freighting services to Moosomin,
marriage licenses, handling of land transfers and mortgages, and implement and fire
insurance…” Another upper middle-class family were the Humphrys, who built a large
home to the west of the present historic site and founded Humphry’s Pork Packing
Industry, and two cheese factories. McNaughton’s of Moosomin were agents for the sale
of Cannington products, as they were for products of the Hamona Colony. The
combination of farming and business did not produce “large amounts of money” for
either family, although they played leading roles in community and social life.
The reputation of Cannington Manor as a wealthy place of horse-racing and foxhunting was primarily based upon the activities of the Beckton brothers. They came
originally as agricultural students but inherited money with which they built their stone
mansion and stock farm called “Didsbury” and supported their aristocratic lifestyle.
Other young English gentlemen (among the names were Arthur Le Mesurier, Jack
Stanier, and Inglis Sheldon-Williams) who came to be known as “the bachelors”, had
also left England in search of new opportunities, and after Cannington went on to the
Boer War or Yukon gold fields.
The majority of the settlers were the homesteaders, tradespeople and
professionals: the carpenter Joseph Newman, his wife Elizabeth and their four
granddaughters; the blacksmith Hume Robertson and his family; award-winning miller
Harold Fripp, store-keeper Robert Bird and his wife Mabel Shaw Page, teachers Spencer
Page and Louis Kent and Ernest Maltby and his wife Mary (Humphrys) Maltby who was
“a talented amateur artist.” All Saint’s Anglican Church was built in 1884 at the
insistence of Pierce’s daughters, on land donated by Pierce.
The economic conditions of the 1890s, coupled with the difficulties of
transporting products to and supplies from the rail line at Moosomin, led to the end of the
experiment. By 1900 “most of the residents had left” and in that year the village store
was moved to the village of Manor (Saskatchewan Environment Brochure). Today
Cannington Manor is a provincial historic site; during the summer guides in period
costume conduct tours of the reconstructed buildings.
Cannington Manor had already achieved sufficient fame by 1901 to figure in A
Sower of Wheat, a novel by Harold Bindloss in which English immigrant Ralph Crosfield
wins the lovely Grace Carrington, daughter of Colonel Carrington of Carrington Manor.
Much of the story follows Ralph’s adventures in railroad building and gold mining as he
tries to finance his homestead, Fairmead, and cope with the Colonel’s opposition to his
marriage to Grace. Near the end there is an interesting confrontation as the Colonel
resists a proposal from other settlers to build a commercial creamery at Carrington
colony. They want “an open-door policy” and a means of providing for the future of
their children by ensuring “industrial progress.” The Colonel calls this a “foolish fancy”
but is alone in wishing for the colony to remain a gentleman's farm only (329-30). He is
unanimously outvoted and suffers a stroke, never to be the same again, a symbolic defeat
of the old hierarchical society and a confirmation of the democracy of the new world.
The Anglican Church was a very active force in the settlement period. The Barr
Colony and Cannington Manor were Anglican and another settlement of the 1880s was
Churchbridge. In 1884 the Reverend John Bridger, who had been the “emigration
chaplain” from St. Nicholas’ Church in Liverpool, “became actively involved in
promoting a colonization scheme for the Diocese of Qu’Appelle.” A group of British
Churchmen and Members of Parliament formed the Church Colonization Land Society
(CCLS). Inspired by success of Canterbury settlement in New Zealand, the directors,
including John Bridger, “decided to purchase agricultural land in the Canadian Northwest
and reserve it for settlement by prospective English farmers. From the start this
settlement plan was strongly endorsed by the Bishop of Qu’Appelle, who saw it not only
as a means of increasing denominational strength, but of insuring that Catholic doctrine
and practice were firmly implanted in the colonial church. Actual settlement of these
lands did not begin until May of 1887 when the first colonists, accompanied by Bridger,
arrived in the Northwest and located at a site along the Manitoba and Northwest Railway
called ‘Churchbridge’”.
The settlement “fell upon hard times” and by “the mid-1890’s, the town property
and buildings had been sold and the CCLS had gone into liquidation.” The Society lost
money on this venture, and on the shorter-lived settlement of Christ Church near Indian
Head, perhaps because, it has been suggested, the colonization was profit-making and
was perceived as a Tractarian or Catholic movement rather than as a non-profit
settlement scheme reflecting more traditional Church of England policies.
St. John’s College was established in 1885 by Bishop Anson, the first Anglican
Bishop of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle. It was to be a theological training school and
church farm. One element of Bishop Anson’s plan had a distinct utopian flavour, and
that was the idea for a “Brotherhood of Labour”, a lay order of young men who wished to
“dedicate their manual labour to the service of church” (20). All had to work assigned
hours, and work part of the time at occupations other than farming, especially in Winter,
a system reminiscent of provisions for labour in More’s Utopia. The Brotherhood was
“inaugurated in a ceremony held in the college chapel and three brothers were admitted to
the order,” on November 21, 1885 (20). These young men were to complete a
probationary year, a term of three years, then a further term to be decided. They were to
“work on the college farm” then go out into the settlements in pairs (to avoid “unbearable
loneliness”) to teach, nurse or practise trades. Despite some promising recruits the
brothers had left by 1890, one of the main reasons being the desire of the brothers to
become priests, whereas the Bishop founded the order as “a working Lay Brotherhood”
(23). However, a recent history notes that “Bishop Anson successfully used the
brotherhood system in Qu’Appelle as a means of spiritual renewal and of ministering o a
scattered membership” (Powell 59).
One of the major ethnic settlements was the British and Anglican settlement
known as the Barr Colony. The Rev. Isaac Barr (who grew up in Ontario and served in
Prince Albert) moved to London in 1902 and began promoting a scheme for Western
Canadian settlement. He wrote pamphlets which “stirred up the dreams of many more
people than he thought possible” (Bowen 208), with ideas of co-operation, selfgovernment and especially “Canada for the British”. For example, Paul Hordern recalled
when he first heard abut Britannia colony that Barr “sounded to us like another Moses
about to lead his people to the promised land” (14). The Rev. George Exton Lloyd
became involved with the scheme and the two men led the main body of the colonists
(1960 people) from Liverpool in April 1903. Unrest among the colonists began when
Barr’s preparations for food and accommodation along the route proved woefully
inadequate, and eventually Lloyd assumed leadership. Life in “Britannia Colony” was
extremely difficult for many settlers who had little or no background in farming.
Housing, often sod, was primitive and uncomfortable. And it was estimated that “70 per
cent of the colonists would not have crops in 1904, let alone in 1903” (Bowen 160).
However, despite hard conditions there was enthusiasm too. One colonist wrote home:
“Here a person is without restraint and can do just as they like so long as it is within
reason, this coupled with the outdoor life which gives one an unfailing good appetite
enables one to enjoy a sense of freedom quite unknown in the old country” (162-63).
Barr emigrated to Australia, Lloyd went on to become Anglican Bishop of Saskatchewan,
and the Colonists melded into the community. It is not uncommon today to meet
Saskatchewan people whose ancestors “came over” with the Barr Colonists.
Isaac Barr’s Pamphlet Number Three is entitled “The Canadian Co-operative
Home Farm Number One. A Practical School of Training in Agriculture and Stock
Raising.” The pamphlet describes a co-operative farm for young men who are “earnest of
purpose and of good character”. The young men will learn techniques for farming the
prairie while at the same time building some equity on their own quarter-sections. A
central farm home, a farm overseer and his wife, a budget for implements and supplies
and some rules to govern business, committees, membership and so on—these make up
the bulk of the pamphlet. It is clear from Isaac Barr’s concluding remarks that he sees
this not merely as a school or a way to make a living, but as the foundation for a cooperative and democratic community:
Generally speaking, it is recognized today that co-operation or association is the
true principle of success in all commercial pursuits. It has been found more difficult to
apply it to farming but where tried in this connection it has worked good results. In this
special case it is hoped that it would prove a success. It is believed that the members,
through co-operation and self-government, shall find here the training in business, that
development of a sense of responsibility and self-control that feeling of mutual
dependence, as well as appreciation of the value of money, which shall lead to high
success in future life.
Farmers should be public-spirited men; they should, in such a democratic country
as Canada, where all offices are open to able, conscientious, and wide awake men, look
forward to a life of public usefulness as well as private gain and enjoyment. Hence it is
felt that the management of their own affairs by the members, the discussions and debates
in the lecture and entertainment hall, the lectures by public men from time to time, and
all the numerous self-directed activities of such a co-operative life, must tend to draw out
all that is best in the men, and fit them for a life of great usefulness and assured success.
The Barr Colony story was the factual basis for a fictional account in Harry Pick’s
Next Year (1928). This is a novel about the trek of the Barr Colonists from England to
Lloydminster, from the perspective of a small party consisting of two single men, a
married couple and their daughter. We first meet Bert Tressider (a gentleman) and Sam
Potts (a Cockney) fighting on board the “Lake Manitoba.” They become friends, and we
learn that Bert has romantic dreams about the wild West while Potts, with his capital of
20 pounds, is off to make his fortune. In Saskatoon the two buy horses they believe are
eight or nine, but which are in reality almost “old enough to vote” (29). They meet the
Trailey family and decide to discover the “new North-west Passage into Utopia” together.
(76). Off they go, experiencing many things along the way: they are stuck in mud, get
lost while hunting prairie chicken, get help from Indian freighters, are frozen by a May
snow storm, take cover in a slough to escape a raging prairie fire, get lost while searching
for their land but finally get there and begin making plans for “next year”. The
relationship of Bert and Esther Trailey develops as they travel together and at the end
they decide to marry.
Utopian elements include the lyrical description of the “delicate loveliness” of the
prairie (233), the absence of “social distinctions” (80-81), the ethic of co-operation (17576) and yet a number of wry satirical comments about Barr’s “communistic ideal”
(XVII), described as “founding a new Jerusalem in the great North-West: “Britishers are
not very keen on communistic ideals and faiths, even with masterful prophets as guides”
Mary Hiemstra’s Gully Farm (1955) tells the story of the Pinder family—Walter,
Sarah, and their children, including Mary the narrator—who left England with the Barr
Colonists. Approximately the first half of the book describes the miserable journey to St.
John, the long train voyage and the tent city at Saskatoon, from there the trail to
Battleford and then on to the “promised land” in the Barr Colony, a homestead nine miles
from Lashburn. The second half describes the struggle of this pioneer family to get
established, living in a tent the first summer, building a small log house, battling storm,
prairie fire, and a first winter which was the worst in memory. Spring finally comes, they
decide to stay, and the final chapter summarizes the ups and downs of subsequent years
as they get established and build a proper house to accommodate their growing family.
The narrative point of view alternates between the naïve descriptions of the six year old
Mary and the observations of the adult who is telling the story some forty years later, one
of a number of contrasts which give the story its dramatic effect. The primary contrast in
characters is between Walter and Sarah, who represent utopian dreaming and practical
realism. Walter wants to leave England because he sees no future for himself and his
children and, like many others, he reads the immigration pamphlets and imagines a new
world of abundance and prosperity: “It’s the chance of a lifetime” (11). As they leave
Saskatoon he says happily to his wife, “when we come this way again we’ll be riding in a
carriage, and our pockets will be overflowing with money.” She replies “Full of holes,
more likely…Money doesn’t grow on trees even on the prairie” (69-70), an indirect
rejection of the extravagant dream which saw the West as a promised land or a land of
Cockaigne. “What did they expect in a new country?” she asks about some disappointed
pioneers. “Milk in the streams, and butter on the bushes? They must be daft” (90).
Another important contrast is between individualism (“It was our plot of earth, and no
landlord could tell us more” 183) and community (“you couldn’t be rich alone”192).
Establishment of the Primitive Methodist Colonization Company (December
1881) had been authorized by the General Committee of the Church with the hope of
attracting Church members to a non-profit colonization venture (Campbell 20). Three
Toronto entrepreneurs put down $24,576 for a tract of land in the North West. The
Secretary of the Company, Rev. William Bee, was sent to England to attract colonists,
and the Company advertised in the Toronto Globe on March 11, 1882:
The colony is situated on the north west side of the
Qu’Appelle River, fifteen miles north east of Fort
Qu’Appelle, said to be the garden of the North West.”
(Sumner 18).
Six colonization trains passed through Toronto on the night of April 19, 1882, including
one with the initial group of about twenty Primitive Methodist Colonists and families on
their way to this new Eden. In 1883 there were three group migrations to the Colony,
including a group of about thirty members of the Benner-Harris-Donnelly families who
were members of a sect known as The Brethern (18).
Two of the most important elements of Colony life, of course, were agriculture
and religion. The Pheasant Forks Agricultural Society (1887-1904) was the “body
politic” in the Colony, whose objective was “encouragement of the science of agriculture,
animal husbandry and cottage crafts”(33). It was wound up in 1904 when it became clear
that the railway was bypassing the Colony (34). Primitive Methodism, whose values
were simplicity, fundamentalism, avoidance of hierarchy and work with the poor, thus
moved from intentional community to part of the mainstream culture of the developing
An explicitly utopian program to mobilize in the Northwest Territories was
temperance, which for some earnest Victorians was to be the salvation of society. In July
or August of 1881 two men met in Toronto to talk of “a new settlement in the NorthWest” which would further “the temperance ideal.” J. A. Livingston was “a one-time
district preacher, organ pedlar and amateur lecturer on economics.” The other man was
John N. Lake, a former Methodist minister turned businessman and a prominent member
of the Toronto Board of Trade. Spurred by the progress of the Canadian Pacific Railway,
government encouragement and a buoyant economy”, they issued a first prospectus for
the Temperance Colonization Society (TCS) by the end of August. By November a
group a group of “twenty eminent Ontario business and moral leaders formed the board
of directors of the TCS”. They advertised widely, and by January of 1882 over 3,100
men and women had subscribed to over two million acres in the North-West. “The
company incorporated in March, 1882 at the government’s request and a month later was
awarded 213,000 acres straddling the South Saskatchewan River” (not the 2,000,000
acres applied for). In June 1882 John Lake was appointed commissioner of the company.
Leaving Toronto on June 22, he led a party by rail to Chicago, St. Paul, Winnipeg and
finally Moosomin, from where they travelled overland. “Hallelujah” he wrote in his
diary at Clark’s Crossing, some miles north of the site of the city, “Situation beautiful and
beyond all our Expectations as to this Spot for a city” (Kerr and Hanson 1-2).
The town site survey was complete by August of 1882. “Thirty to forty settlers
gathered on the site, raised a pole bearing the Union Jack and celebrated the occasion
with speeches and merrymaking. A city had been born” (8). But when the Colony’s
contract with the government was finally cancelled in 1891 only 101 heads of families
had been settled within its tract (Kerr & Hanson 23). As well as the slow progress in
establishing the railway in Saskatoon, the Temperance Colony suffered from bad
publicity because of the financial speculation upon which it was built, from lawsuits
which arose from the speculations and from poor management, and—like the Barr
Colony—from internal dissension. In 1885 the stockholders voted the board, including
John Lake, out of office, and this was confirmed when the matter went to court. By the
end in 1891, “a company which once had 1,000 shareholders had only twenty-five” (22).
Another view of the Temperance Colony as immigration utopia is the comment
by a North West Mounted Police Officer named Donkin, who arrived as an immigrant at
Quebec City to have a pamphlet thrust into his hands advertising the Temperance
Colonization Society, and with a picture of Saskatoon as a metropolis called "Northwest
Tall chimneys were emitting volumes of smoke, there were wharves stocked with
merchandise; and huge steamers such as adorn the levees at New Orleans were
taking in cargo. Subsequently, I found Saskatoon to consist of six houses at
intervals and a store. (10)
Despite this, the Temperance Colonization Society accomplished a great deal in terms of
establishing settlers, building the city physically, contributing to education and culture,
and—of course—choosing the site which was to become the beautiful city of Saskatoon
Not all colony settlements were affiliated with churches. An important secular
group of this period was the Harmony Industrial Association. In June of 1895 a little
group of utopians assembled in the school in Beulah, Manitoba. Their purpose was to
debate and approve the constitution for a co-operative group to be called the Harmony
Industrial Association. The document had been drafted by Will and Ed Paynter and it
was Will Paynter’s homestead in the Qu’Appelle Valley (South of Spy Hill) that they
chose as their site.
The colony, named Hamona, was slow starting, partly because the Dominion
Lands Act did not allow for homesteaders to live in a single settlement. When this
difficulty was overcome (an amendment was passed in 1898) the colony got going in
earnest. Economic activity included grain farming, cattle, the production of lime by
burning limestone in kilns dug into the hills, “Hamona Butter” which was sold in
Moosomin, trade with the Ruskin Colony in B.C. and a store which served the area. The
Colony had its own form of money, called scrip, and it was accepted in the vicinity.
Hamona School District was established in 1898 and children in the school came both
from the Colony and from surrounding farms. A notable feature of the colony’s social
life were the Sunday discussions on a variety of topics, held in the school. But the
railway did not come through and there were some members who wanted the Colony to
be more communal (including free love) than others were willing to accept. Hamona
colony disbanded in 1900. It has been recognized as an important experiment and one of
the first if not the first co-operative venture in Saskatchewan.
The Constitution (see Appendix I for an excerpt) begins with a strong statement
against the fraud and injustice of the existing capitalist system, a statement linking it with
agrarian radical movement which was widespread in the Midwestern states and
provinces. The co-operative principles reflect the influence of utopians such as Ruskin
and Kropotkin. The provision of medical care and the elaborate system of departments of
government echo the structure of Bellamy’s utopia in Looking Backward and anticipate
sections of the 1933 Regina “Manifesto” of the CCF Party. The document seeks to
balance individual rights and communal obligations and it includes an interesting section
on the grounds for which a member might be suspended. There is no record the
provision was applied and the accounts suggest the disbanding of the colony was
Settlers From Scotland and France
The strength of ethnic ties as a basis for the intentional community, as well as the
forces in the new land which tended to dissipate such ties, are both illustrated by the
Scots Crofter Colony of St. Andrews and Benbecula. In the early summer of 1883 a
party of forty-seven Scottish Crofters, from the estate of Lady Gordon Cathcart at
Benbecula on the island of South Uist, arrived in the Wapella district, followed in 1884
by 240 additional pioneers destined for Benbecula (or St. Andrews, the name of the
Catholic parish where today there still stands an attractive fieldstone church). Of the 287
pioneers, 185 were Catholic and 102 Protestant. One problem for the Crofter community
was the “broadcast scattering of the people in various sections, instead of being in one
good compact, wholesome Highland settlement, where the good old customs, language
and traditions of the Gael could be cultivated to live for generations.”
Pride in ethnic identity is emphasized by the story of Old John McPherson who
was convinced by some young wags that the reason he didn't hear the Eastbound trains
(which passed in the middle of the night) was because the big Scot in Vancouver who
turned the trains around had died and they were all running off into the Pacific Ocean
In addition to Cannington Manor, the other well known “aristocratopia” is the
French settlement of St. Hubert, in the Pipestone Valley about ten miles Southwest of
Whitewood. It began in 1881 when Dr. Rudolph Meyer of Brandenburg, Germany, a
sociologist who was also an agrologist and a journalist, visited the North West Territories
as a guest of the C. P. R. His first plan was to bring in one hundred Swiss farmers to
make cheese, but they stopped in the United States because of the Riel Rebellion in 1885.
He purchased twenty-two sections of land and recruited twelve young aristocrats from
France. His own home he called “La Rolanderie”, after a castle owned by one of his
investors, and this also became the name of the district. By 1889 there were thirty
quarters of land in operation (“St. Hubert Hamlet” 97), livestock and other enterprises,
and the community had gained its reputation for elaborate homes at St. Hubert and in
Whitewood, for horse-racing and for fancy dress balls. However, Meyer himself sold out
and returned to Europe this year.
The experiment was not in the end an economic success. The “Rolanderie Stock
Society underwent two reorganizations of capital funding by 1890” (Rasporich 50) and
many of the ventures tried in the 1890s, under the leadership of Le Comte Yves de
Raffinac, were doomed for various reasons before they began. These included a brush
factory, raising horses for the French army, growing chicory for local coffee, processing
Gruyère cheese, and raising sugar beets. One tragi-comical story has it that not having
grown enough feed for the pigs they slaughtered all one thousand of them, only to realize
that they hadn’t enough salt to preserve the meat, and carcasses were left rotting on the
banks of the Pipestone Creek (Morin).
Attempts were certainly made to build the community. A stone church was
opened in 1890 and in 1992-93 two of the aristocrats brought in eighty-eight French and
Belgian settlers to confirm the area as French-speaking and Roman Catholic (at its largest
the colony was 100-150 people). Despite this, the aristocratic settlers drifted away during
the 1890s and by 1899, the year of Meyer’s death in Europe, “La Rolanderie” had all but
passed into history.
What is the significance of “La Rolanderie” as an intentional community? As a
co-operative business venture it shared something with the Hamona Colony to the
Northeast, and as an aristocratic settlement it has naturally been compared with
Cannington Manor to the Southeast. However, the vision with which it originated seems
to have been Rudolf Meyer’s conservative, ultramontanist, nostalgic social ideal, a
reaction to the rapid industrialization and democratization of late nineteenth century
Europe, a radically different reaction from that of Karl Marx, whom Meyer apparently
knew (Morin).
Whether the aristocrats recruited by Meyer shared his ultra conservative vision in
all its essentials is not known. If they did, then like all utopians they coped with the gap
between ideal and reality as long as they could; perhaps their leaving was due simply to
the economic failure of the venture, or perhaps they came at last to accept that an
‘aristocratopia’ could not isolate itself from modern reality and was unlikely to survive in
the twentieth century.
Settlers From Eastern Europe
A group of settlers who came to Canada to escape persecution were the
Doukhobors. The Doukhobors originated as a radical Protestant sect in Russia in the
early 1700s. In 1785 the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Ambrosius attempted to identify
the dissident peasants as heretics, calling them “Doukoborsti”, or people wrestling
against the Holy Spirit. These “spirit-wrestlers” adopted the name but interpreted it their
own way, seeing themselves as wrestling “with and for the Spirit of God” (Stupnikoff 1).
They lived communally and attracted others to live as they did, which provoked the
authorities into persecuting them and exiling them to remote regions. About 7400
Doukhobors emigrated to Canada between December 1898 and June 1899. They
travelled from Batum, a port on the Black Sea, to Halifax and St. John, then by train to
the prairies. They stayed in immigration halls in Selkirk, Dauphin, Brandon and Yorkton
for some months, and most began to move onto their new lands in the Spring of 1900.
Nearly sixty villages were established in Eastern Saskatchewan.
The historical reconstruction at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village in
Veregin, although it includes many buildings brought from other Doukhobor villages,
does give a clear picture of daily life in these villages for several years after 1900. In
subsequent years the majority of the Doukhobors moved to British Columbia and the
community split into three groups: the independent Doukhobors who integrated early
with Canadian society, the orthodox Doukhobors who maintained the communal life, and
the “Sons of Freedom”, a smaller and more radical group. A group moved back to
Saskatchewan in 1911 to re-found a colony at Kylemore.
Many colonies were “intentional” by virtue of their ethnic or religious character,
or both. One such was the Estherhazy Hungarian Colony which was organized by
Count Paul Oscar Esterhazy. The original colony beginning in 1885 consisted of about
35 families or 150 people (71), and grew by the turn of the century to over 100 families
and 900 people (165).
In 1902 Count Esterhazy gathered material for a pamphlet which would stimulate
a new wave of Hungarian immigration to the area. The Pamphlet consists of an
introduction by Esterhazy, testimonials by the Catholic and Protestant clergy, statements
by a sample of the original settlers reporting their experience as colonists, and
photographs of houses and farms.
It is an example of the “immigration utopia”. It begins with the epigraph
“Nothing Succeeds Like Success” (more an example of “positive thinking” than utopian
thinking, perhaps) and it suggests both the natural abundance and the social felicity which
settlers could expect in the Colony:
During the winter months the country is blessed with that
peculiarly healthful, elastic, bracing atmosphere so common
to the higher latitudes, which gives such a buoyancy and
vigour to the mind and body. The climate in summer
approaches nearly to that of Italy; the flowery and fruitful
country is warmed and lighted by an Italian sun, fanned by
Italian breezes, and canopied by the pure cerulean of an
Italian sky. Such a country, it will be at once
acknowledged—of such fertility, abounding with such a
variety of resources, characterized by such a climate and left
to the undisturbed and grateful task of developing and
multiplying its own means of individual and social
happiness—possesses enormous attractions. Here a free,
industrious people will find a happy, prosperous existence,
and agriculture, so long baffled by the stubbornness of other
soils and climes, will reach perfection, scatter flowers upon
every valley, wind every hill with vines and pour its cereal
treasures around the hearthstones of every home. (70-71)
Other utopian elements in the pamphlet include the absence of wild beasts and the
blurring of social class distinctions.
A group of settlers who may be distinguished by their following the utopian ideal
of a “New Jerusalem”, were the Jewish colonists, many of whom also came from Russia.
In 1881 the assassination of Tsar Alexander II brought pogroms on the Jews, “leaving
thousands dead and homeless”, resulting in plans to emigrate. Some went to found
agricultural colonies in what is present-day Israel and some came to Canada beginning in
the early 1880s. They were welcomed kindly in Montreal and Toronto and some decided
to stay there, but others headed west. It took some time to find an acceptable site (in one
case a Methodist colony refused to allow the Jews to settle nearby—Abella 82) and by
1883 it seemed the sending of Russian Jews to Western Canada had been a failure.
However, they persisted and a first colony called the “New Jerusalem” was established
near Moosomin. It struggled on for five years until 1889 when it was finally abandoned
after the crop was destroyed by fire. All the more gratifying, therefore, was the success
of the Wapella Jewish Colony, which proved what many had doubted, that Jewish people
could succeed at agriculture on the prairies. There were seven other Jewish colonies in
Saskatchewan, including Sonnenfeld, Hoffer, Oungre, Oxbow, Hirsch, Lipton and
Edenbridge, in addition to a few colonies in Manitoba and Alberta. At one point there
was a proposal to purchase a large area of land in Western Canada and settle it with
European Jews—the creation of a separate Jewish state in the West, but the project died
when negotiations with Ottawa dragged on for years (Abella 92). The Jewish colonies
disappeared as intentional communities after the first generation (Rasporich 37).
Part of the story of Jewish immigration to Saskatchewan is told in Land of Hope
(1960), a novel based on a diary kept by Clara Hoffer and developed by her daughter F.
H. Kahan. It begins with Israel Hoffer’s decision to become a farmer: he enrolls in
Baron Hirsch’s agricultural school in Austria and makes the journey to Saskatchewan in
1905 to homestead. There are adventures such as getting stuck, building a house, prairie
storms, the cow getting into the house, prairie fire, and the romance and marriage of
Israel and Clara. After they settle down Israel’s role is to be a peacemaker in the
community, as well as justice of the peace. The story ends with the depression, the
controversy about whether Jews should get relief, and Israel’s optimism for next year,
which is vindicated when the rain comes to end the drought.
One of the amusing stories is about how Reb Moshe, a neighbour of Israel’s, was
called to Israel’s farm one day for an emergency:
But it wasn't a rabbit Robert was barking at. It was Gladys, a young daughter of
the Hazelhurst's, who burst into the shack, her hair flying and dress in disarray from
running. Reb Moshe, staring at her open-mouthed, could not understand what she was
shouting but saw the tears in her eyes. She was frantic, but what did she mean, "Israel,
Puzzled, he thought, "Something is wrong and her father is not home. He's out
Before he had time to move, she turned back toward the door and motioned to him
to follow her. Suddenly he felt a wave of terror which almost paralyzed him. "Israel,
well." It could only mean one thing, Israel stopping for a drink of water from the well on
the way home and falling in. Frantic now, also, Reb Moshe ran as fast as his short legs
could carry him, but Gladys was way ahead of him still shouting about a well. When he
reached the top of the hill he saw Mrs. Hazelhurst standing by, looking down a two-foot
lumber enclosure, wringing her hands and crying.
Feeling his knees would cave in before he could get there, Reb Moshe drew on his
last ounce of strength to reach the scene of disaster, and peered down. On the water's
shiny surface floated a little pig. In infinite relief he gripped the short wall around the
well and trembled, his eyes shut. Then, controlling his pent-up emotions, he asked for
"laiter." Mrs. Hazelhurst shrugged her shoulders in despair. She didn't understand what
he wanted. Reb Moshe left them standing, weeping for the little pig, and walked up to the
house where he found the ladder he wanted. Slowly and cautiously he made his way
down and grabbed the small drowning animal which, by that time, was too exhausted to
fight for its life and carried it up under one arm. Mrs. Hazlehurst reached out and
helped Reb Moshe step down from the ladder, taking the little pig from him.
"Thank you, Israel," she said.
Israel she called him. Israel? So. Now he understood. He left them with a
pleased smile. He would have liked to spend a little time with his English neighbors but
it was embarrassing to be with human beings and not be able to communicate with them.
"Beryl," he said, "I saved a little pig, me, a Jew that has never touched one
before, but don't tell anyone. It would have been more of a sin to let the animal die."
Beryl blinked, yawned and went to sleep. (45-46)
The first settlers in St. Joseph’s Colony, which is several miles East of Regina on
the Trans Canada Highway, arrived on 22 May 1886. They were German Catholics from
Josephstal, a German village near Odessa in Russia. Like other settlers of this period,
they emigrated to Canada because they perceived the opportunity for greater political
freedom and autonomy (Becker 2). The centre of the Colony was a small village, also
named Josephstal, which consisted of St. Joseph’s parish church, a few other buildings,
approximately twenty homesteads in the Colony and parishioners from farms up to eight
miles away.
The German-Catholic character of the Colony remained strong up to the 1930s. It
is interesting, in relation to the degree of “intentionality” of the community, that the
school teacher for many years was an Irish Catholic man (Becker 14). The commercial
attraction of surrounding towns was a factor contributing to the disappearance of St.
Joseph’s and other colonies (eg Katharintal) in this area.
Settlers from the United States
The Mennonite Church, which is also a world outreach organization, has a
considerable history in Saskatchewan. The hamlet of Mennon is twenty-five miles north
of Saskatoon. The Mennonites were founded in 1525 at Zurich, Switzerland, by Menno
Simons. As Anabaptist Protestants contemporary with the Hutterites they experienced a
similar history of persecution and migration. Mennonites migrated to Manitoba in 1870
and to the area north and west of Saskatoon in the 1890s. (There is a Heritage Village at
Steinbach, Manitoba, and small villages at the River Valley Museum in the Hague,
Saskatchewan and at Kinetic Park in Swift Current.) There were subsequent migrations,
for example Russian Mennonites who came to Saskatchewan in the 1920s. Today's
Mennonites in Saskatchewan no longer live in farm colonies (although some still do in
Ontario's Kitchener-Waterloo area) but integrated into the wider community. In addition
to Mennonite churches the Mennonites are visible in their Saskatoon and Regina stores
"Ten Thousand Villages" which sell crafts from around the world on the basis of paying
the craftspersons a decent return. The outreach to the disadvantaged of the world extends
much further than this, however. The Mennonite Central Committee collects funds here
for emergency and development relief work in many parts of the world. Such works
overlaps with the utopian goal of making a better world but, like other religious groups, a
major focus is on attainment of a better life after leaving this world through death, so
there is a tensional relationship with utopianism.
Another religious group from America were the Quakers, who originated in
England in 1648, led by George Fox. They believed each person should follow his or her
own "inner light", rather than the doctrines of an established church. They sought refuge
from persecution at Swarthmoor Hall. When Quaker William Penn inherited a large
claim upon the Crown he was granted territories in America, including what became
Pennsylvania. He established Swarthmoor College outside of Philadelphia. Quakers
from Pennsylvania moved to Ontario about 1880 and it was some of this group who
moved to Saskatchewan in 1903-04. They took up homesteads in the Battleford area and
named their colony Swarthmore.
The abbey, as a pastoral retreat from the busy world, has a long utopian pedigree.
A well-known Saskatchewan example is St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, established in
1903 by monks from Cluny, Illinois. Monasteries have traditionally been represented as
seeking salvation for souls in the next world rather than seeking transformation of this
world. Yet monks and nuns may be involved in attempting to achieve the “kingdom” in
the here and now, in a variety of practical ways. These include working with the poor,
education, and—the “peculiar office” of the monk or nun in the modern world, as
Thomas Merton suggested—keeping alive “the contemplative experience” to help
modern people “recover the integrity of [their] own inner depths” (Sinclair 1).
Along with the monks from Illinois, some lay persons from Minnesota “formed
the German American land company and bought 100,000 acres of land to sell to settlers.
To attract immigrants to the new colony, the Catholic Settlement Society was formed in
St. Paul, Minnesota. The promise that Benedictine monks would be in their midst was
one of the chief factors in motivating immigrants to settle in St. Peter’s Colony” (“Monte
Cassino to Muenster”).
Today the Abbey has an extensive physical plant. Features of particular interest
for the student of utopias are the stained-glass windows in St. Peter and Paul Church and
hints of the cube found throughout the church, which suggest the New Jerusalem
described in the Book of Revelation (“St. Peter’s…”). Although the New Jerusalem is
beyond history it has traditionally been a potent symbol for utopians of the better world
The Abbey’s residential high school closed in 1972 but the Arts and Science
program, in affiliation with the University of Saskatchewan continues. The Abbey
publishes the Catholic weekly paper The Prairie Messenger and is nearly self-sufficient
in gardening and mixed farming. The monks also do parish work although the Abbacy
was merged into the Saskatoon diocese in 1998.
The monastery is governed by a committee called a “small chapter” headed by the
Abbot, who is elected. The “chapter” consists of three monks appointed by the Abbot
and three monks who are elected. Tasks are assigned and “the Vow of obedience
encourages rotation of offices so that no one monk will try to make himself indispensable
in any position” (Melnyk 91).
A part-time intentional community associated with St. Peter’s is the summer
gathering of writers and artists called St. Peter’s Colony. Although much of the effort is
individual the use of the word colony indicates a degree of intentionality to build and
sustain a creative community in Saskatchewan. A similar gathering is held at Emma
A short-lived presence of Adamites in Saskatchewan occurred during a few
weeks in 1908. Adamites have appeared at various times and places since the second
century. These heretical religious sects believed themselves to be living in a state of
innocence and, hence, often went nude. Some practised free love as an expression of
belief in total community of goods. Adamite ideas migrated to North America and in
1908 were brought to Saskatchewan.
James Sharpe and his wife Melissa, from Missouri, were living in Oklahoma
when they became Adamites, gave their money away, began preaching, and were arrested
for walking naked in the streets of Oklahoma City. With a small following they visited
Alberta in 1907. In July of 1908 James Sharpe, believing himself to be a second Christ,
led about twelve of them to cross the border at Pierson, Manitoba. He was going to
Yorkton to “take care of the leaderless Doukhobors” (Johnson 71). Because Peter
Verigin, the Doukhobor leader, promised to send the group on their way the Adamites
were allowed by the authorities to proceed. They were rejected by the Doukhobors and
crossed back into the United States a few weeks later.
The story of the Sharpes had a tragic ending. On December 8th they, with others
including five children, were involved in an armed confrontation with police in Kansas
City, Kansas. Mrs. Sharpe and several others on both sides were killed; James Sharpe
was sentenced to prison for second degree murder.
Another American group were the Bostonians. A small group of settlers from
Boston travelled to Saskatoon in 1906 and settled near Glidden. On their journey they
kept their sense of identity with a cheer:
Who are we? Who are we?
We're from Boston, don't you see?
Are we in it? Yes we are.
Saskatoon! Saskatoon!
Rah Rah Rah.
Their banner “Saskatoon or Bust” became “Saskatoon or Busted” once they reached
Such a diverse collection of settlement colonies and experiences invites the
question—what has this got to do with utopianism? The answer is complex because each
of these examples is unique. In a broad sense these intentional communities involved
searching for a better life, and doing so in a community set apart in some way from the
mainstream of Canadian society at that time. Some were set apart by their ethnic
identity, some by their religious identity, and some by both ethnicity and religion. A few
were set apart by their adoption of the co-operative economic model. The question of
intentionality is also important for analysis of these community experiments. There is a
range of founding intentions having to do with the communities’ visions of their own
future. In some cases these colonies were simply settlement vehicles and the intention
was to integrate quickly with the wider community. In others it was hoped to preserve a
distinct identity within the mainstream culture. In some, such as the Temperance Colony,
the founders imagined that their approaches to building a better society, in these cases
through temperance and socialism, would continue on into the future.
All Saints Anglican Church, Cannington Manor
The Humphries House, Cannington Manor
Foundation stones, teacherage, Cannington Manor
Cannington Manor House, relocated to Carlyle
Cemetery, Cannington Manor
Barr Colony Church, Lloydminster
A novel of the Pinder family, Barr colonists
Promotional brochure for the Saskatoon Temperance Colony
Hamona Colony Historical Marker near Spy Hill
Will and Ed Paynter and their families at Hamona Colony
Rubble from the stone school-house at Hamona Colony, looking
South across the Qu'Appelle Valley.
Images of the St. Hubert Colony of French Aristocrats, also known as La Rolanderie;
from the museum at Whitewood:
Chapter 3. Intentional Communities after World War I
This chapter expands upon some of the issues faced by intentional communities,
whether the communities are religious or secular. The internal issues can involve
members growing older and members leaving, resource shortages and dissension for
various reasons from personality clashes to political clashes to political disputes. The
external issues can involve attitudes of and actions by the wider society which can
challenge community living or even community existence. The examples here,
approximately in the order they appeared on the Saskatchewan scene, include the
Hutterites, the Matador Farming Pool, Marian Centre in Regina and the green Haven Sun
Club. There are some seventy-five First Nations communities in Saskatchewan, and
many of these aim to celebrate and preserve their aboriginal culture as distinct from
mainstream culture. However, due to the way First Nations originated as reserves, these
issues are included in Chapter 4. This chapter concludes with some discussion of
sustainable community, part-time community and virtual community.
By far the majority of communitarians in Saskatchewan now live in religious
communities, chief among which are the Hutterites. More’s fictional Utopians (1516)
changed houses every few years to prevent attachment, a doctrine the Hutterites have
actually lived in their migrations from country to country over several centuries. In 1533,
during the Protestant Reformation, the Hutterites grew out of the Anabaptists (who did
not believe in infant baptism) and defined themselves more clearly as a separate group
after the martyrdom of Jacob Huter in Innsbruck in 1536. For the first century there were
fewer than a hundred households. To escape persecution, or attempts to control their
education or religion, the Hutterites moved from Moravia to Slovakia (Hungary) in 1618,
to Russia in 1770, and a group of around 1200 to South Dakota in 1884. Some of these
continued colony living while some took up regular homesteads and became Prairie
People. Following an unhappy experience as pacifists during the First World War the
Hutterites emigrated to Canada in 1918, only one colony remaining behind in the United
States. Now there are more than 30,000 Hutterites in colonies in the Western Canadian
provinces and the adjoining States. There are colonies also in New York, England and
Japan (Nikiforuk 24). In Saskatchewan there are 58 colonies, according to the 2006
edition of The Original Hutterite Telephone and Address Book (published by Jake Stahl
of Riverview Colony near Saskatoon), up from 56 colonies in 1995. Colonies which
reach between 100 and 150 members may look for land to purchase from their savings
and establish a new colony, thus maintaining the size of community which provides work
for all and favours the cohesiveness of an extended family. The Hutterites continue to
grow because of a high birth-rate and a high retention rate; of those who leave typically
25% or more will return. The oil fields of Alberta have been a common destination for
those who have left.
The Hutterites are a Christian church as well as a communal group. They seek to
bring their earthly lives into conformity with the will of God and look for ultimate peace
and happiness not in this world but in the next. The traditional religious character of the
community is evident from the routine of daily prayer, the leadership provided by an
elected minister, and the strong emphasis on obedience to authority as a community
value. Jacob Huter’s ideal of a “total communal life” (Peters 16) was based upon the
recommendation in the Acts of the Apostles (2:44) that all things be held in common, and
the lack of private property (except for a very few personal possessions and keepsakes)
reinforces communal life and keeps the focus on spiritual rather than material things.
Many of the Hutterites’ practical arrangements are designed to support these
ideals. Working life is based on a traditional division of labour between men and
women, encompassing both agricultural and domestic work and generally designed to
make the community self-sufficient and therefore able to deal with the world without
compromising. Children are given education as required by provincial law and there is
also special Hutterite education to teach and strengthen Hutterite language (German
dialect) and culture. A school day at the Hillcrest Colony School near Dundurn is as
Wake up
Breakfast in dining hall
German school
English school
German school
Church service
With some variations this school day pattern is similar to the schedule at Lajord Colony.
Families have their own quarters, but usually in large buildings shared by other families.
Facilities for cooking, eating and laundry are communal. The traditional clothing
of the Hutterites is a strong reminder of their emphasis on community and their difference
from the world around them. One of the most interesting and most impressive
characteristics of the Hutterites as communitarians is their ability to adapt to their
environment to survive economically while preserving the essential features of their
community life. This results in a relationship with the rest of the community which is
generally very good. There has been in the past some suspicion of the Hutterites for
taking over farmland or using their communal power to compete against individual
farmers (McMillan A4). Yet it is common to hear stories about the Hutterites as good
neighbours or as contributors to the community in a variety of ways, such as the 1990
donation of $50,000 to the new College of Agriculture building at the University of
Saskatchewan, made up of individual donations by the Saskatchewan Hutterite colonies
(“Hutterites donate…”). Hutterite donations for agricultural research continue in 2006,
as do other donations such as those for a proposed children’s hospital. Hutterite use of
the most advanced agricultural technology, including computerized operations, is one
obvious sign of their adaptibility. Another is the establishment of a program to train
Hutterite teachers at Brandon University, as a way of ensuring qualified teachers who
will also “understand the religion, language and culture” (“Program…”); so far the
attendance at this program has been primarily from Manitoba Colonies.
Most of the Saskatchewan colonies are located on the West side of the province,
especially in the South West corner. There is a provincial association of colonies ,
although the colonies operate economically as independent entities. North American
Hutterites belong to one of three groups named after their leaders, the Dariusleut, the
Lehrerleut and the Schmiedeleut. In Saskatchewan there are 30 Dariusleut colonies and
28 Lehrerleut colonies. The Schmiedeleut are located mainly in Manitoba and the
Dakotas. These groups have established different traditions about such matters as the
details of dress (Nikiforuk 31).
The Church (upstairs) and School (downstairs) Building at Lajord Colony.
The Lajord Hutterite Colony sits on a rise of ground in gently rolling farmland
east of Regina. There is a European feel to this country—to the immediate south of the
colony is a crossroads with a metal crucifix and nearby the grotto of Our Lady of
Lourdes, situated on a small stream which is part of the Wascana Creek system. The
Lajord Hutterites have been very friendly and welcoming on several occasions when I
have visited them with classes from the University. It is a neat, well-run and evidently
prosperous community. I met with the Manager Ben Hofer in December 1995. Also
present was his brother the Minister Jake Hofer, his wife Elizabeth, daughter Lois and
daughter-in-law Ester. Ben Hofer has since died. In 2006 I met with Manager Darius
Hofer (Ben’s brother); also present was his wife Rebecca, his son Gary and daughter-inlaw Diane who is married to son Marvin. This article contains information provided by
Ben Hofer and updated by Darius and Gary Hofer.
Tell me about Lajord Colony.
The Colony was established in 1975 as an offshoot of the Arm River colony.
Some financing came from Arm River and the rest was in the form of a bank loan. Lajord
is a member of the Dariusleut group of colonies. The Dariusleut group bishop lives in
Alberta. There is a written constitution which applies to all church members and all
colonies, but the colonies are separate legal entities rather than members of a single
corporation. Each colony is self-financing after the initial start-up period financed in
part by the mother colony. There is no pooling of funds among the Hutterities [an
attempt to establish a credit union did not work out and was dropped]. There were
approximately seventy individuals in the Lajord Colony in 1995, whereas in 2006 the
number is eighty-five [a slow but steady growth says Gary Hofer with a smile].
It looks like some renovation work has been done.
The [plain row] housing has been upgraded with porches and concrete roofing
tiles. Water for drinking and washing comes from a well and is pumped throughout the
colony in underground lines. Sewage is pumped to a septic tank. New machinery is
purchased regularly, and the Colony has considerable repair capacity in its [large]
What kind of farming do you do?
The economy of the Lajord Colony is based primarily upon the grain farming
operation; this was 7900 acres in 1995 and is 17,000 acres in 2006. Crops include
wheat, canola, peas and hay. Some custom harvesting is done, but 98% of work and
income is within the colony. Income also derives from the sale of eggs, vegetables (there
are regular trips to Regina Farmer’s Market) cattle, chickens, and turkeys. In the egg
operation, nearly 5764 chickens produce 5400 eggs per day. The huge garden also
supplies the colony’s needs for vegetables and fruits. New developments include a feed
lot for 600 cattle and fully computerized feed mill, as well as GPS guidance systems on
field equipment. Lajord manufactures metal truck scales and will ship anywhere in the
world. There is also a dairy operation with 115 dairy cows. Milk is picked up every two
days by transport and hauled to Saskatoon for processing.
The cattle operation is state-of-the-art modern. Feeding is computer-controlled
and computerized records are kept of milk levels, fat and protein. The dairy barn has an
ingenious ‘flush toilet’ designed in the colony, which sprays 5000 gallons of water to
save much cleaning time. Jake the Dairyman says you could wear your Sunday shoes in
the barn after cleaning. Bull semen is stored in frozen nitrogen in the “artificial bull.”
Are there any other kinds of work?
There is a woodworking shop, where everything from kitchen cabinets to furniture
is designed and built, for use within the colony. Some colonies do produce goods for sale
(eg. doors, brooms). The Minister, Jacob Hofer, does bookbinding as a service to other
How do you govern yourselves in the colony?
As in many Hutterite colonies there is a Farm Manager and a Minister, both men
elected by the Community. There is some overlap in their roles and neither can make
unilateral changes but must consult the other and the community to maintain a
democratic consensus on important matters. Other positions of responsibility include the
managers for areas of work, the schoolteacher and the Minister’s non-ordained helper.
Big decisions about the planting of crops and purchase of equipment are made by the
Board consisting of the male members. For example, an annual budget is presented and
approved each year. Women voice their opinions on these matters but do not vote on
them. Women do vote on matters which directly affect their work. There is not really a
separate category of “Women’s work” to the extent which has sometimes been suggested
since, for example, the Dairyman’s wife will not be assigned other work but will help her
husband keep the dairy barn clean. However, women still do cooking, laundry,
gardening, yard-work and care of the family. Day to day decisions are made by the
Manager after consultation with areas such as Fieldwork, Feed Lot, Egg and Dairy.
Do members have their own money?
Groceries are purchased by the colony. All individuals receive a monthly
allowance for other household necessities and personal items.
How are children educated?
Children in the school are taught by a teacher from outside the Colony. The
children attend until age 16. The curriculum is the Saskatchewan curriculum. Some
computers are available in the classroom. The curriculum includes art. The German
School hours are one half hour in the morning before regular school and one hour after
regular school hours. The children study the Gospel and learn to read and write
German. It would be very uncommon for students to leave the Colony for further
education beyond age 16. We donate to the University of Saskatchewan for the
agriculture research rather than for teaching of children. [I was informed by Gary Hofer
that he had taken high school correspondence courses in Business Records, Drafting,
Algebra and English.]
 What is daily life like?
Life in the Colony revolves around work, and there is a strong sense that work
itself is a way of praising God. The bell rings several times a day for prayers and meals.
Weekday prayer meetings are from 5:00-6:00 p.m. On Sundays there is a more extended
service at 9:00-10:30 a.m., and again from 4:30-5:00 p.m., consisting of scripture
reading and singing the traditional Hutterite chants. A big feast of the year for
Hutterites, and a holiday, is Pentecost. Other church holidays are Christmas, New
Year’s Day, Epiphany, and Easter. In addition, each member is entitled to holidays to
visit kinfolk in other colonies.
Religion is very important, then?
The Colony works as an economic community only because it works as a religious
community first. Take the Christianity away and the colony could not survive.
How do Hutterites socialize?
Social life is founded upon the fellowship of working together during the day and
at night there is visiting back and forth among homes. There are no televisions, radios,
magazines or other secular diversions. [A big change since 1995 is that all members now
have cell phones, there are regular phones and a switchboard whereas in 1995 only the
Manager and the Minister had phones, and there are several computers for the business
of the colony . Newspapers are common, as are publications such as the Western
Producer, Consumer Reports and Country Guide. No radio or TV is still the rule in
2006.] The members make visits to other colonies. When a young couple decide to marry
the woman moves to the man’s colony.
Some people think Hutterites are wealthy farmers. Is this true?
Although certain economies of scale are possible the only real economic
advantage for a colony is in sharing machinery. The farm inputs are the same and the
land must support many more people than the standard family farm operation; if the
ideal farm today is two sections, a colony of ten families will need twenty sections to
succeed to the same level.
How do you get along with your neighbours?
Relationships with neighbours are excellent. For example, in 1995 there was a
fire in the hayshed and many neighbours came to help and offered more hay than was
lost in the fire. [Or, as Darius Hofer put it in an interview in 2005 “the best way to have
good neighbours is by being a good neighbour” – Hursh.]
To enter the home of Darius and Becky Hofer gives some suggestion of what it is
like to visit a monastery or a convent. There is a sense of the essential—what is here is
essential to life and there is no excess ornament and decoration, though there is some.
There is a sense of order and everything, like the kitchen table we sat at, is spotlessly
clean. It is quiet, suggesting a life which is prayerful and contemplative. Becky and
Darius welcomed me with friendly smiles and there were many more smiles and laughs
as we chatted over coffee and delicious home-made cookies. When I left and drove back
along the street I noticed the names of the inhabitants beside the doors; there is a strong
sense of community, of shared purpose to live a worthy Christian life.
Some younger Hutterites feel that they must leave colony life, for a variety of
reasons. Samuel Hofer was born in a Hutterite community in Alberta and grew up in a
southern Saskatchewan colony. In his teens he secretly drew cartoons which he sold to
the Western Producer. He left the Hutterite life in 1983 and, among other jobs, turned to
freelance writing. He published Hutterite cookbooks and fiction. His novel Dance Like a
Poor Man (1995) is the story of a boy moving to a new colony and an earlier collection
of stories, Born Hutterite (1991), reflects a variety of colony experiences. The title story
“Born Hutterite” describes how an inquisitive young Hutterite boy begins to appreciate
that the stork is just a legend and that babies come from quite a different kind of process.
The reactions of his parents indicate the tension which Hofer sees between intellectual
curiosity and community solidarity:
“Anybody who asks too many questions won’t live long,”
my mother said. “Someone with too much knowledge
could become harmful to the colony.”
“You don’t need to know so many things,” was
my father’s advice. “The more you know, the more
questions you have. People who know much, end up
thinking they’re better than their neighbours. And before
long they’re vain and start having vast differences like
people out in the world. That’s sinning against Heaven
Father.” (23)
Another communal, though secular, farming group is the Matador
Farming Pool, at the former Matador Ranch North of Swift Current. One
of the original pioneers rick was Lorne Dietrick who was born in
Saskatoon in 1915, grew up in a large family on a farm near Le Roy,
studied Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, served in the Navy
in Europe during World War II, and when he returned was one of the
veterans who joined forces to found the co-operative. His memoirs (1988)
recount the history of Matador and some of the issues faced by the
members. For example, there was no “boss”, and he sees the development
of group leadership as one of the reasons the co-operative survived (38).
However, there were changes, for example when the school closed in 1966
and children and parents became involved in the larger community (72).
And the closeness of the community had its disadvantages—there were no
marriages within the co-op and one boy said the girls were too much like
sisters (73). A deep commitment to co-operative ideals shines through in
every chapter, but nowhere more than in Chapter Twelve, “Reflections on
the Future”, a sketch of a utopian vision for Saskatchewan as part of a
world community based on non-competitive values of good stewardship
rather than profit:
The philosophy required for the development of co-operative farming must
emphasize the building of a co-operative society rather than a competitive one. This type
of farming attempts to bring about basic change by creating the new society in a
functional form so that confrontation is not the only way left for people to create change.
Co-operative farming has six basic advantages:
1. Membership is on a voluntary basis.
2. It provides for a long-term leasing of land with an adequate pension plan.
3. Land is for use and not speculation.
4. Income comes from the ability to use science and technology in the best use of land
and labour resources.
5. Good management comes from defining goals, objectives and programs.
6. It can provide for the training of children to work together so that they may live more
Legislation should allow members of a co-operative farm to enjoy all the rights
and privileges given to all other forms of productive organizations.
Because of our competitive society and the use of science and technology the
people in rural society are forced into changing their relationships with themselves and
the community they live in. It has in fact already destroyed many smaller communities
and unless redirected will continue the process of destroying larger communities. What
is really at stake in rural society is people and one of the greatest natural resources we
have in this country—the land. If we are to make use of science and technology and have
a rural society with people in it, it must be based on co-operation not competition...
The main difference between large corporate farms and co-op farming
communities is philosophical. The agri-business goal is integration with national
corporations. Their major decision-making process is at the Board level made up of
shareholders. The management is hired to carry out their decisions and to make the
operations as profitable as possible. Under these conditions labour organizes to protect
itself and a divisive situation arises.
The co-operative community approach is one where the members through
democratic means develop their programs and elect leaders to see that decisions are
carried out. To have harmony it is necessary to distribute income, work and leisure
equitably. The group must use creativity and social pressure to get work accomplished.
A greedy person can harm a group more than a lazy one. Since our school system
teaches competition, we will need programs to teach the merit of co-operation...
Lorne Dietrick was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2000, for his
contribution to the co-operative movement in the province.
The community itself, called the Matador Farming Pool, near Kyle, was
established in 1946 as one of a number of co-operative farming experiments in the
province. Nineteen veterans pooled their veterans’ grants of $2320 and started Matador
on 10,000 acres of crown land. Houses were built around a central park about the size of
a city block and a variety of sheds, barns and workshops were built over the years. There
was a co-op store and a school. Members worked the land co-operatively and shared the
profits. In the mid seventies a major change occurred when the provincial Land Bank
bought the land in order to lease it back to the next generation. In recent years members
have supplemented incomes with outside jobs. The farming operation has spread to the
establishment of seed plants in Kyle and Swift Current. Scholar George Melnyk sees
Matador as an element of a great ideological debate in Saskatchewan history and politics,
between communal ownership of the means of production and the competitive values
associated with individual ownership.
A few kilometres South of Kyle is a grid road to the East off Highway 4. This
road through slightly rolling country passes an elevator and ends at a grove of trees where
a sign announces “Matador Farming Pool. Pedigreed Seed Growers.” The road becomes
a circular drive around a grassed area, at the South end of which is the co-op’s office.
Ralph Barlow is the son of one of the original veterans who founded Matador; he spoke
to me when I visited the farm in 1999, and updated his comments in 2006.
Where did the name Matador come from?
Some people from Texas came up here in 1906 and established the Matador
Ranch. This lasted until the 1920s, when the land became community pasture. So this
land was originally part of the Matador Ranch. The co-op farm is sixty years old in 2006
and I think it is the only true, full co-operative remaining.
How is the co-op set up?
To start with, the co-op owns everything including the homes, though not personal
furnishings and vehicles. The co-op provides a half-ton truck for each member. There
are seven members now on the farm and each person has an equal share. If you leave
you get one seventh of current value paid out in cash (25% in the first year and the
balance over a period of time). We own a seed cleaning plant in Kyle, focusing on
canary seed and lentils, and we have been able to agree on a valuation when required by
members leaving. There is a seed processing facility in Swift Current, for pulse crops
and canary seed in bags or bulk; the plant also does some seed cleaning.
Is this a problem, members leaving?
Protecting the farm is certainly our first priority. Three members left up to 1999
and one since then to bring us to seven..
Would you say the community is breaking down?
Not so much breaking down as changing. There used to be a school here, for
example, up to Grade Six, for farm kids and a few others in the neighborhood. Now the
kids go to Kyle. There used to be more social life but now people have friends in other
places. So I guess we are like the rest of people today, more mobile than we used to be.
And there are still community events. Branding is a big deal and everyone is involved.
What kind of farming do you do?
Our main crop is Durum wheat but we are branching off into a lot of other crops,
including peas, lentils and canary seed. We have 400 head of cattle, mostly Red Angus
Charolais. And then there are the seed plants.
How is the work allocated?
Over the years this has evolved in a natural way. I do carpentry, for example,
others prefer grain, another and his wife are interested in the cattle. Everything is
volunteer. One member lives on the farm but works in Swift Current managing both seed
plants. Another member is the trucker for both plants. We mostly all are involved at
seeding and harvest.
How do you pay yourselves?
We get paid by the hour, plus at the end of the year there is a dividend above the
hourly wage. Outside income is privately held. For example, one of our members is a
geologist who used to work outside in the Winter, and this was private income. However,
at present all members get their income from the farm.
What is the status of women at Matador?
Well, women could be members of the co-op but the wives aren’t voting members,
though of course they have input. There is only one vote per couple. Women’s income
from outside sources is privately held. Non-members (spouses and children) are often
hired for extra help throughout the year. We also have a number of full-time hired help
(not related). Spouses get the same dental and medical benefits as the members.
How do you make decisions?
The members have a regular meeting every two weeks and vote on the business of
the co-op. There is provision for taking a leave of absence in our bylaws.
Although, historically, intentional communities have been located in rural areas,
in the twentieth century there have been many urban communities as well. Marian
Centre in Regina is an inner-city religious community dedicated to serving the poor and
the homeless, so it reflects the ancient tradition of city convents and monasteries as well
as the modern phenomenon of urban intentional communities. Marian Centre on Halifax
Street in Regina, opened in 1966 to serve the poor with meals and clothing. It is run by a
group of Catholic lay people who belong to the Madonna House Apostolate founded by
Catherine de Hueck Doherty in Combermere, Ontario. The apostolate, which also
includes priests, describes itself as “a family in the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to
loving and serving Christ in one another and in all men and women”. Members live at
Combermere and at field houses in the U.S., Canada, Ghana, Russia, Belgium and
England. Marian Centre is one of these. The staff takes vows of poverty, chastity and
obedience and constitutes an intentional community which converted an abandoned
printing shop into a place of “refuge and peace” for the poor. Volunteers are welcome to
help with preparing and serving food, sorting clothing, cleaning and maintenance. A
lending library, specializing in books on the spiritual life, is available to the general
Cheryl Ann Smith was Director of the Marian Centre in Regina when I spoke to
her in the Fall of 1998. She was later transferred back to the Mother House in
Combermere, Ontario to be Director of the Formation Program and Director of the Choir.
Your article in the Prairie Messenger spoke of letting go.
Absolutely important for communal life. There are 220 of us and if people hold
on to their cultural backgrounds, personality quirks, opinions, and aren’t willing to let
go, how can you have a common life? The promise of obedience is a profound letting go.
For example, I’ve just been transferred to Combermere and this involves letting go of all
I’ve experienced in Regina. A good example, the last house I lived in, people from
different cultures, we had a free day and the North Americans saw this as a chance to go
off on their own while those from other countries saw this as a chance to do something
together. Obviously somebody had to let go.
Is the Apostolate growing?
About 8-10 join every year, usually ranging in age from the twenties to the forties,
somewhat higher than other orders. We are in about 12 countries with 22 field houses.
Next year we are maybe opening a training Centre in Belgium; we already have one
operating in Ghana. [The Apostolate’s web site lists 17 houses in 2006.]
What does formation involve?
Formation is a two year process, involving living at Combermere and being
trained in aspects of communal life, some classes on the constitution and spirit of the
Apostolate. After this members take first promises of poverty, chastity and obedience for
one year. This is repeated three times more for two years each and we take final
promises at the end of seven years. There is no academic prerequisite and no program in
theology or church history, although we do take courses along the way. The primary
question is whether one is suited for community life. Not everybody is. Of about 2000
who come through our doors every year maybe six would seek to join. It’s a pretty
stringent life.
Is there training in communication with others?
The applicants live separately, in dormitory arrangements, and this is a small
community of eight. Every applicant has a spiritual director and the two Directors of
Training are there to help. As far as I know there are no courses in communications—
this comes from living. Open, honest and direct communication is one of the hardest
aspects of community life. It’s so frightening to people, including myself.
Is there a choice about where you are assigned?
Not really. People can express their preferences but essentially we are given our
assignments. I’ve learned through experience to accept this because God really does
speak through our superiors in this vow of obedience. If I’d been given a choice I’d have
been in a prayer house all these years and instead I’ve been in the middle of the market
place. My gifts for the poor wouldn’t have been called out the same way in a prayer
house. However, this year I did write to my director about my interests in music, writing
and prayer ministry, and these things will all be used in my new work at Combermere.
Is belief in the transcendent what holds your community together?
I would think so. We have people from all over the world, different cultures,
clergy and laity, different ages, how could you possibly survive as a community without
the bond of faith? It would be totally impossible for me. I lived in a community of young
people once—it was very nice but did not have the staying power. God must be the
centre. It must go very deeply, as in a marriage, to get through all the ups and downs
which happen in a relationship.
The orderliness of community life is very appealing…
This order, doing things at set hours, is deeply woven into our life and is
monastic, this flow of life, it’s like breathing, this is what happens everyday and you fall
into the rhythm of it. There’s a real peace which comes. There’s a strong sense that
putting order into the external world will bring order into our spiritual lives. It is
practical too. We feed 150 people everyday and without good order we could not do this,
not to mention 450 people at Thanksgiving. Further, this is not a large space for six
people and without order it would be hellish. All this reflects God’s order for the
universe, bringing order out of chaos.
Some things about monastic life are frightening…
Our three promises all involve letting go, of possessions, of my own will through
obedience, of having an intimate sexual relationship with another person. But the
purpose is not merely to let go but to be able to hold onto God ferociously.
Is there a danger of being too removed from the world?
We consider ourselves a family in this house and we have the same dynamics as
any other family, the letting go, the need to forgive over and over. And here we are in the
midst of life in its most naked form, everything including murder. Living here there is no
escaping from reality or pretending that we ourselves are not subject to the same
temptations. It is true that one response is to detach and build a wall around the heart,
but that does not last for long. It’s not a human way to live.
One frightening part of our life is that we don’t have the intimate family
relationship of a nuclear family, although at another level Madonna House is our family.
Will I have someone to look after me when I am ninety-two and senile? Another
insecurity is in prayer life, for sometimes God feels close and other times a trillion miles
away and I can’t control that although I know He’ll always return. With God it is a
living, breathing relationship and it is always changing. And this is frightening because
we want so much to be in control of our lives.
It must be difficult to be transferred from a community where you have put down
Yes. But our home must be in God, not just as words but in a real sense, or there
is a constant rootlessness. But the deepest desire of my heart is to do what God calls me
to do, to live in Him, so I put down my roots and love fully, then grieve when I must move
but accept it and open my heart again at the next place. My last house was a Mexican
house in Arizona. I was there for eight years and came to love the Mexican people and
when I went back to visit it was like going home, that’s the richness of a life like this,
having people all over—there is pain but the joy is much greater.
Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are strongly counter-cultural…
So true. I grew up in a WASP home and these vows are so different from those
cultural expectations of wealth, family and individualism. What’s hardest for my family
is the idea of the Pope’s coming in and saying what we should believe. And for people to
wear donated clothes and live in a dormitory, or to live a chaste and celibate life, these
things do not make sense. Fifty years ago Madonna House was seen as a radical left
movement. Now because of our vows we are seen as radical right. Our life is the same
but the culture around us has changed. We have to be what we are.
We have people from Brazil, Singapore, West Indies and they have double culture shock
of coming to materialistic North America and the Madonna House.
 Are there problems with ambition or power-seeking?
Although we all have mixed motives I would say that the primary motivating
factor for those who join Madonna House is the desire to love and serve God. Our life is
too hard for anyone to last whose motives are self-seeking. We are all called to scrub
floors and clean toilets, living in a dormitory, and any self-promotion is obvious and
someone like that would not be inclined to stay. Although the denial of self is an essential
to our life it is a fact that the elders of Madonna House are among the most unique and
beautiful people you will find on this earth.
Our three main directors must be elected unanimously. (It came from a Russian
custom called subornost where the people would vote over and over again.) To be a
person of prayer is the most important quality for a Director General, and there is no
place for power ploys in that. I’m not saying we are lily-white or that we don’t have any
interest in being recognized for what we do. Sure we do, but I don’t think that gets in the
way because feeding our ego is not primary, loving is. Love is the foundation and driving
force of Madonna House, love for God and one another. I don’t have my own husband
and children but I have a family who loves me and cares for me and helps me when I am
You mentioned there are three main directors…
Yes, one for women, one for men and one for priests. These three work together
and there must be unity among them. It’s a four year term with no limit to the number of
terms. A ballot is sent all over the world, members pray and vote, and this process
continues until there is total unanimity. We believe God has a will for the community and
a particular person in mind. Thus, even if we disagree with a decision we are prepared
to go with it if we perceive it to be the will of God. This is a practical way in which belief
in the transcendent is lived out. At this point we are small enough that everyone knows
others but we are at a point of change. For example, a new training centre may be
established in Brazil and we have all this to learn about how to relate.
How does a loving God allow the kinds of problems you minister to?
God does not create the poverty. We do. God is not going to come and decree
utopia with a bolt from the sky or take away our free will. I don’t think we’re meant to
have a utopia on earth. I don’t think it’s possible. But still we must do what we can for
our brothers and sisters who are in need. It is not a natural thing to love someone who
comes through the door here, who may be drunk and stinking, shouting obscenities, and
most times they do not change, do not get out of their addictions. But I think something
softens. I love these guys. I develop eyes of love to see them, their beauty, despite their
problems and that they probably won’t change. Some people say we don’t get to the root
causes of poverty, that we’re just a band-aid. That’s true, but it’s a beautiful thing to do.
It’s also a beautiful thing to be advocates for the poor but change by legislation is not the
same as serving a bowl of stew and looking them in the eye and calling them by name.
I think a loving God (I know this is anthropomorphic) weeps at the kind of poverty
we have created on earth. It is not what He wanted.
 How are disputes resolved?
The primary method is prayer. For example suppose half the house wanted to
serve a Christmas meal and half the house didn’t. We meet and if there is disagreement
we go away to pray for a week and then meet again. The blocks get melted.
 Would you agree that we have made progress toward utopia?
I suppose, in relation to children in Victorian coal mines, yes. But the children
who come in here are reality too, victims of abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome—it takes a
different colour and hue each century but there are terrible things being done now too. I
don’t want to sound negative and pessimistic. Human nature has both the glory and the
wretchedness. To the massive problems of the world there seems to be no human
solution, but what I do know I can do is to love Bud and Gus and Joe—that I can do, or
love Daniel and Paul and Anne Marie, the people I live with, that’s my particular bent,
my calling.
Marian Centre on Halifax Street, Regina
A very different kind of community, located about twenty-five minutes East of
Regina off Highway #10, is the Green Haven Sun Club, a member of the American
Association for Nude Recreation. From the black and white padlocked metal gate a neat
gravel road winds through secluded grounds to the clubhouse. Founded in 1973 the club
has “a gradually expanding membership of 80” (Warner). A few live on the site year
round while most come only for weekends during the warm weather, although there are
social events at other times of the year. The idea of nudism as a utopian movement goes
back to the myth of innocence in the Garden of Eden, and the modern philosophy
includes enhancement of self-esteem and “disappearance of social class distinctions.”
Dr. Brent Galloway taught Linguistics at the First Nations University of Canada,
University of Regina. He was a composer of symphonic music and a member of the
Green Haven Sun Club, where he and his wife Miriam had a trailer for weekends. On a
warm Saturday in September he took me on a walking tour of the clubhouse (kitchen,
games, dance area), the neat rows of trailers which members either rent or own, and the
recreation area, which includes a swimming pool, volleyball court and play equipment for
children. The grounds are clean, well-cared for and completely secluded amongst the
Why nudism?
Well, people have gone skinny dipping for years. At least two thirds of Americans
have tried it. Why? Freedom for one thing—no wet bathing suit, an overall tan, the
feeling of fresh air on your body, and these are all good feelings.
Are there actual health benefits?
We think so. One of the major ones is lowering of stress. People here have very
high acceptance of their physical selves, and we come in all shapes and sizes, and this is
radically different from our culture which pushes stereotypes of physique for both women
and men. Here nobody is prudish about the body, nobody makes comments, and selfesteem problems tend to disappear with the clothes. The social benefit is that we relate
to other people for what they are—social class and position is simply not important in a
group of naked people. We form some very good friendships.
How do you recruit new members?
Mostly word of mouth, but every year we have a nude weekend for non-members.
In July we have an art show—this year we had a table at the Cathedral Village Arts
Festival. A prospective member is interviewed very carefully to make sure we get people
who are interested in us in a healthy way.
 You mean people whose interest is not sexual?
Sure, that, or any kind of weirdness. We distinguish between nudity and sexuality
and we emphasize that this is a family environment where everyone should feel
comfortable and never spied on or harassed in any way.
Is membership limited to married couples?
Oh no, there are both male and female single members, all age groups. The
policy on this depends on the particular club.
Tell me about the business side of the club.
Well, this is a landed club, meaning we have a permanent site. The club in
Saskatoon is non-landed and there are both kinds in other places. The members rent
trailers and pay their own utilities, and there is an annual membership fee of course. We
supplement fees with special events to raise money—this summer, for example, we hosted
a Western Canadian convention. We hold meetings of the members 2 or 3 times per year
and in between there is an elected executive to do the business. A budget is presented
every year and members can call for an audit of the books, though we have a tradition of
What is the position of women at Green Haven?
Women are equal here in every way, as officers on the executive for example.
Sometimes women do more of the cooking, but that is what happens many other places.
Do you all eat together then?
Only sometimes. Green Haven is a bit more like a private campground than it is
like a commune. People usually eat in their own trailers, though we do brunch one day
on the weekend, and of course, there are social events—dances, parties at Halloween and
other times, a Medieval Feast. People volunteer for cooking and other duties such as
first aid.
I am trying to get a sense of Green Haven as intentional community
People come from a variety of backgrounds and there are certainly no rules for
conversations, we can talk about what we like, but it tends not to be ideological. As a
group we aren’t political or religious, for example, though as individuals we may be
both. Green Haven tends to be pretty laid back, and one of the most important values is
respect for other people rather than a program of some kind.
You mentioned dances. Are they nude too?
They’re clothing optional. Often if it gets hot people will take their clothes off.
We don’t have striptease, though one time a guy put his clothes on to the music.
What kind of music?
It varies, usually a mixture of country, rock and oldies.
Are people more worried now about exposure to the sun?
Sure, just like everyone else. We tend to use more sunscreen. But we believe
there are health benefits from moderate exposure to the sun—we certainly feel better.
How do children relate to nudism?
One of our pamphlets says that children are natural nudists, and we’ve found that
if children are raised in this environment they tend to be more relaxed and not hung up
about body image. I have a feeling that about half of the kids here will continue with
nudism as adults.
The attempt to establish an ecological community at Craik, using new-old
technology such as straw-bale wall contraction, has been a focus point for the sustainable
living movement. If it is true that mainline political parties today search for room in the
centre of the spectrum, as suggested in the introduction, then perhaps the real inheritors
of the radicalism of Saskatchewan’s early co-operators are the environmentalists who
remind us of the need to live in a responsible and sustainable way. On the national scene
the leading voice is that of David Suzuki, and in Saskatchewan there are many who share
the vision of an alternative world of co-operation rather than competition, clean and
renewable energy, just distribution of wealth, and living in harmony with the natural
environment of our fragile planet Earth.
Regina EcoLiving is a non-profit organization whose objective is to promote
sustainability and build a “viable community.” Their recent book, called EcoLiving:
Your Guide To Sustainable Living contains over one hundred articles covering the
definition and goals of EcoLiving, such as sustainability within a generation, plus
practical advice for home and garden, food and agriculture, clothing and personal care,
family and community (e.g. how to introduce sustainability to children), recycling,
alternative transportation, designs for alternative buildings (such as the straw bale
experiment in Craik, or planting greenery on city rooftops), and strategies for making an
ecological difference.
One of the fascinating aspects of the issue of sustainability is that the coalition
includes people from many points across the political spectrum. Some activists see the
market economy as part of the sustainability problem, while others would look to market
strategies to help deliver solutions. Another example of this breadth is the Communities
of Tomorrow partnership of the Regina Regional Economic Development Authority, the
City of Regina, the University of Regina, the National Research Council, Saskatchewan
Industry and Resources, and Western Economic Diversification Canada. Under this
umbrella are particular efforts such as the Centre for Sustainable Communities at the
University of Regina. The aim is to establish Regina as a centre of excellence for
research and development of best practices, and the goal of developing a model
community does have a certain utopian character. The Communities of Tomorrow
website suggests a time frame of 100 years for Regina to become sustainable. Specific
projects now ongoing include robotic inspection of water mains, design of a “Factor 9”
home which will use 90% less fossil fuel energy and produce 90% less greenhouse gas,
and a program of best practises to deal with urban drug problems.
These issues transcend the traditional urban-rural split, demanding that urban
problems be examined regionally as well, in terms of issues like water supply and
protection of species habitats. In a way this echoes some of the most ancient ideas about
cities, such as Aristotle’s version of “bio-regionalism”—that cities should limit their size
to what can be supplied from the surrounding countryside, and not being dependent on
trade routes.
Scholars of utopianism are also studying part-time intentional communities,
meaning communities formed for a purpose such as music festivals, and which disband
once the festival is over. The iconic example is Woodstock in 1969. Sometimes a
characteristic of such events is an overturning of the conventional norms for drink, drugs
and sexuality. These events have often been compared to such historical examples as the
Roman Saturnalia or the medieval “Land of Cockagne.” However, there are many parttime intentional communities of a more sedate and conventional type.
There are numerous part-time intentional communities in the province. Religious
examples include St. Michael’s Retreat House in Lumsden, which originated as a
Roman Catholic retreat centre run by the Franciscan order, and thus touched the utopian
tradition as a quasi-monastic part-time intentional community. Recently St. Michael's
has evolved into an ecumenical venture of the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran churches
and therefore exemplifies as well the Saskatchewan utopian theme of co-operation.
One form of part-time, or at least partial, community is associations of people on
the internet to form a virtual community. The internet includes Saskatchewan but
extends all over the world, and this form of community challenges the traditional sense of
place which has defined community through much of human history. An interactive site
(with a “chat room” for example) is obviously more “communal” than a passive site.
Some web addresses of interest to students of utopia are: www.wholife.com (the
wellness journal published in Saskatoon), www.ic.org (the directory of intentional
communities site), www.extropy.org and www.transhumanism.org (sites devoted to
realizing human potential to evolve through use of technology & drugs), utopianstudies.org (site of the Society for Utopian Studies).
There are also “cyberstates” or “micronations” which exist only as web-sites.
However, they claim thousands of citizens in many countries and in one case there is a
move to find territory to make the virtual state a real state: see www.freedonia.org and
Chapter 4. Utopianism in Saskatchewan Politics and Society
In the United States presidential campaign of 1928 the Republican Party promised
“a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage,” if Herbert Hoover won. The episode
illustrates that utopianism is really an integral part of political campaigns in democratic
societies—utopianism not a as an ideal or perfect society but simply as a better society,
for example with goods such as chickens and cars more abundant and more widely
distributed. But Herbert Hoover was not re-elected in 1932, in the midst of the Great
Depression, which may illustrate that tough realities are always undermining political
utopianism. This chapter covers some examples of utopian (and dystopian) elements in
Saskatchewan’s political history. It includes Métis and First Nations experience, radical
movements of the First World War era, the Depression of the 1930s and the political
movements arising from it, and a few examples from the 1960s and 1970s.
A struggle for identity is embodied in the story of Métis prophet Louis Riel.
Louis “David” Riel (he adopted the “David” to symbolically oppose the “Goliath” of his
enemies) was a religious visionary who prophesied a great future for the Métis nation of
Western Canada as a new chosen people of God to succeed the Jews. For a time he
abandoned his Roman Catholic faith to establish the “Catholic, Apostolic and Living
Church of the New World” and in his diary he seemed to envision the North West as a
land of utopian promise. He prayed that God would:
…particularly inspire the Indians, Métis, French-Canadians and French with
enthusiasm for the pure French-Canadian - Métis colonization of Manitoba; the
Irish, Italians, Bavarians and Poles for the foundation of a New Ireland, of a New
Italy, of a New Bavaria, of a New Poland in the North-West to the east of the
Rocky mountains; the Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Belgians and Hebrews for the
foundation of a New Sweden, of a New Norway, of a New Denmark, of a New
Belgium, and of a New Judea in the North-West to the West of the Rocky
Mountains—thanks to the perpetual help of Mary Immaculate, thanks to the
ineffable favour which Saint Joseph enjoys before Mary, Jesus and God Himself.
This was written in August of 1885. Fifteen years earlier Riel had played a central role as
President of the Provisional Government of what was to be the new Province of
Manitoba; thus, some feel he deserves to be considered a Father of Canadian
Confederation. But he executed a Protestant prisoner and had to seek exile in the United
States, only returning in 1884 to lead a rebellion against Ottawa, a rebellion which was
quickly crushed. Riel was tried in Regina and convicted of high treason, and hanged at
the police barracks in November of 1885. His diaries do not contain legal and
constitutional provisions for the new West he imagined but they are certainly full of the
enthusiasm of a prophet leading his people to a promised land.
The reality for Indian people in the settlement period was anything but utopian, as
in clear from the story of File Hills Colony. The File Hills Colony of Cree Indian
farmers grew out of a long and troubled history of relations between governments and
aboriginal people. Along with other agricultural colonies it reflected an official policy of
“curing” Indians of their traditional nomadic ways and socializing them into settled
farming life. William Morris Graham established the File Hills Farm Colony in 1901 for
“ex-pupils of residential schools.” The three original colonists were loaned $125 and
given eight-acre lots, oxen, harness and plough, to begin. By 1915 the Colony consisted
of thirty-six farmers and 3000 acres under cultivation. The experiment became famous
for a variety of reasons: the prosperity achieved by Indian farmers, reflected in their
housing, use of machinery (they owned two steam threshers in common by 1911), health
facilities, general standard of living, and the extraordinarily high rate of World War I
enlistment which was taken to reflect acceptance of civic duty and as proof of successful
assimilation. The Colony was used as a “showpiece” by the Department of Indian
Affairs, like some experimental or “model” villages elsewhere. Visitors to the Colony
were enthusiastic about what they saw. However, this “success” was bought at a high
price for the Indians: traditional dancing was prohibited, Indian language was
discouraged, a Colony school was not allowed to replace residential schools, and there
was resistance to dictatorial methods of administration. The Colony as a separate entity
had disappeared by the 1930s and the land is now part of Peepeekisis Reserve.
The agrarian radicalism of the First World War era was a large part of the Grain
Growers’ movement to which the Paynter brothers, E.A. Partridge and other cooperative leaders belonged. The utopian colouring of protest, the hope for a world of
abundance and equality, is reflected in the Grain Growers’ Militant song of 1919:
Neighbours all with exultation
Join the Farmers’ Combination,
Spreading wide throughout the nation
With a peaceful soul…
Fighting greed and long oppression
For the good of all.
Popular radical songs vary in character from the solemn to the satirical. This one is not a
Cockaigne Fantasy like “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” but is aimed at real
improvements and, unlike many spiritual songs, it is focused on this world rather than the
There is a view in anarchist utopias (such as Morris’s News from Nowhere or
LeGuin’s The Dispossessed) that representative democracy is subject to corruption and
that a characteristic of the better state is direct decision by the people themselves about
matters affecting them. This view has also appeared in Saskatchewan politics, notably
with establishment on May 9, 1912, of the Direct Legislation League, for the purpose of
advocating the use of “the initiative, referendum and recall in the province” (65). For
several years before this, articles and letters supporting Direct Legislation had appeared
in the Grain Growers' Guide, and thus it was one of the currents in the strong stream of
agrarian radicalism at that time. Referral of a question directly to the electorate has
occurred only a handful of times, on direct legislation itself, on time zones and several
times on the sale of liquor. Ed Paynter, one of the founders of the Harmony Industrial
Association, was involved in this campaign.
There can be no doubt that abuse of alcohol was one of the great scourges of the
new industrial cities of the nineteenth century and it is not surprising that temperance or
abstinence came to be viewed by many reformers as the road back to a better, if not ideal,
society. The North-West Territories was “dry” until a license system was established in
the 1890s, which lasted until the First World War. At that time a “banish-the-bar”
campaign was pressed by the Social and Moral Reform Council (a coalition of church,
labour and moral reformers founded in 1907). It succeeded in having private sales
abolished and government stores set up. This lasted for one year but full prohibition then
returned until 1925 (Smith 40), when government liquor stores were established again.
Among other signs of this social movement was the construction in 1909, on 2nd Avenue
in Lumsden, of the “Temperance Hotel.”
The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was a strong force for many
years. I spoke to a group of senior citizens about this and there were interesting
memories of temperance in Saskatchewan. One woman who grew up in a small town in
the 1930’s remembers collecting signatures with her WCTU mother in opposition to a
proposed beer parlor. As late as the 1950’s beer parlors were sexually segregated—
women could only sit in a designated area—and a beer parlor in Lebret was racially
segregated with a “native” section. Fashionable dinner dances at the Hotel Saskatchewan
in Regina were dry, except that the diners brought their own liquor which they kept under
the table. This situation changed with a referendum in 1959.
The early 1930s was a time of great social unrest because of the profound
economic depression. This evoked alternative visions of various kinds (such as the "New
Deal" in the United States, or the promise of social transformation in the "Regina
Manifesto") and it also evoked satire, long a part of the utopian/dystopian tradition. The
following poem appeared in the B.C. Commonwealth and was reprinted in the
Saskatchewan CCF Research Bureau in 1934:
Have you ever been to Crazy Land,
Down the Loony Pike?
There are the queerest people there
You never saw their like.
For those who do the useful work
Are poor as poor can be,
While those who are the idlers
All live in luxury.
They raise so much in Crazy Land,
Of food and clothes and such,
That those who raise them starve to death,
Because they raise "too much."
Among responses to depression conditions was Little Saskatoon, a relief
settlement forty miles North of St. Walburg. In the spring of 1931 three dozen families
from Saskatoon established a pioneer community which was representative of the "back
to the land" movement which was one response to the Depression. Although the goal
was economic survival rather than reforming society there was a tinge of utopian "new
hope" about the plan (25).A more controversial response was the On-To-Ottawa-Trek of
1935. Ever since the Israelites sought the promised land there has been a strong utopian
dimension to the dreams of oppressed people. The thousands of unemployed who rode
the rails in the Depression years of the 1930s were certainly oppressed by economic
conditions and many dreamed of a more just society where they would have work and a
decent life. For the time being, however, they worked in federal relief camps for 20 cents
a day. In 1935 they formed the Relief Camp Worker’s Union and, after a two month
protest in Vancouver, decided to take their message to Ottawa in the famous On-ToOttawa-Trek.
About 1000 left Vancouver on June 3 but they were stopped in Regina, as
trespassers on the CPR. While a delegation of eight went to Ottawa on June 22 to meet
Prime Minister Bennett the remainder, now 2,000, stayed in the stadium at the Exhibition
Grounds. Although the delegation returned “empty-handed” the Trekkers agreed to
disband as a result of an agreement with Premier James Gardiner. However, at 8:15 PM
on July 1st the police moved to arrest Art Evans, the Trek’s “main leader”, at Market
Square, and this began three hours of rioting in which many were wounded, one police
officer was killed and one of the trekkers may have been fatally wounded (Waiser 247).
After a few days the Trekkers began to go home. It is remarkable how closely these
events echo the great Trafalgar Square riot of Morris’s utopian novel News from
Nowhere, although in the case of the Trekkers utopia was not the result. However the
ideal of solidarity, so clearly evident in Trek veterans sixty years later, testifies to the
strength of popular dreams of a better world. A dramatic wall mural of the 1935 Trek
was painted at the Saskatchewan Hospital in Weyburn.
Although religion has often been at odds with utopianism, such was not the case
with the United People’s Church. Lorne Dietrick recalls that C. P. Bradley, an
Australian philosopher and ordained minister, achieved quite a reputation as minister of
the Presbyterian church in Saskatoon just before the Second World War. His sermons on
local, national and international affairs were felt by some to be “too political” because
“he would say that wealth and corruption stood in the way of creating the Kingdom of
Heaven on earth” (18). The result was a split in the congregation and Mr. Bradley led
more than half the congregation to the Legion to found the United People’s Church,
which held services until 1951. According to Dietrick, Bradley believed “that human
nature is not war-like but peace-loving, kind and affectionate. He taught that human
behaviour is created by the society we live in and that a rich man would find it as hard to
get into the kingdom of heaven as a camel would to go through the eye of the needle. He
wanted economic warfare to be replaced by economic co-operation.” Among visiting
ministers at the United People’s Church was Tommy Douglas, the first CCF Premier in
The co-operative movement originated amongst English working people in the
1840s. The idea was expressed in early settlements such as the Harmony Industrial
Association and the Barr Colony, as well as in the Grain Growers’ Movement and the
progressive politics of the 1920s. In the Depression years of the 1930s, credit unions
arose out of the co-operative movement, people financing themselves as an alternative to
traditional sources of credit. The idea that “character could be the basis for credit” (39)
has a distinctly utopian flavour. The Saskatchewan Credit Union Act was passed in
1937, the worst year of the Depression, and the Regina Hebrew Savings and Credit Union
received the first certificate of registration. (In 1910 there had been an unofficial credit
union at the Jewish colony of Edenbridge.) Of particular note were the loans made by the
Regina Hebrew Credit Union to a number of refugee doctors who were interning in the
One of the great events of the depression decade of the 1930’s was the
inauguration of the Manifesto of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in July
of 1933 in Regina. Although the “CCF” did not take power until 1944 here at last was
the political means to realize the vision of the Harmony Industrial Association of 1895.
The Manifesto echoes the Harmony Constitution in its depiction of the capitalist system
as one of “injustice and inhumanity.” Noting that the framers do not believe in change by
violent means, the aim is to elect a government which will employ the best current
scientific expertise in the service of a planned and centralized economy. Financial and
industrial institutions will be socialized, co-operative enterprises will be encouraged, and
benefits will also be socialized as in publicly organized health and medical services.
Although the Manifesto points out that it seeks no encroachment upon personal liberties,
and that it repudiates Fascist tendencies in some countries, the centralism and the reliance
upon experts were causes for alarm for some observers. In actuality, the CCF and its
successor the NDP, presided over a much more mixed kind of economy when they were
in government than this utopian proposal of 1933 would suggest. See Appendix IV for
an excerpt from the Manifesto.
One influence upon Formation of the CCF was the American Edward Bellamy.
Bellamy (1850-98) lived most of his life in the Massachusetts town of Chicopee Falls.
He qualified as a lawyer but turned to journalism and the writing of “psychological
romances”. It was the publication in 1888 of his utopian vision in Looking Backward:
2000-1887 which made him famous and which resulted in the establishment of nearly
200 “Nationalist Clubs” (i.e. in favour of nationalization of industry) in North America
and Europe. Ironically, Bellamy’s future celebrated Boston as a great city of the future;
in a subsequent utopia, called Equality (1897), he paid more attention to rural life. His
writings were probably influential upon the Paynters and the Constitution of the Harmony
Industrial Association. Later, copies of Looking Backward and parts of Equality were
distributed as political pamphlets, the first contact with socialist ideas for many CCF
farmers who received them through the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association.
Whether the CCF government elected in 1944 be regarded as state capitalism or
state socialism it was clearly an important social experiment, and it made the province
recognizably different from its neighbours. One element of the social democratic
experiment in particular has a utopian flavour, and that is the development of the
medicare plan in which the province was the North American leader. It actually began
long before 1944, as a gradual evolution from the early system of local hospitals and
private doctors. There were the municipal doctor programs beginning in 1916; in 1947
the hospital benefits of 117 of these municipal plans were absorbed into the provincial
hospital insurance plan. At about the same time a regional pre-paid medical program was
established in Swift Current region, and this became a model for the provincial pre-paid
medical care plan, medicare, introduced in 1962.
The organizational issues through all these changes have been precisely those
which utopian writers have wrestled with. For example, one inherent tension is revealed
in two statements taken from a 1945 Department of Public Health document:
The Health Services Planning Commission has
proposed organization for health services on a provincial
scale, with as much decentralization as uniformity of
standards and a broad financial base will permit…
Some centralization is inevitable, as highly
specialized services, such as laboratories and costly
diagnostic and treatment apparatus, cannot well be provided
in local health centres…(331-32)
Finding positive ways to resolve the contradictory pull of centralization and decentralization remains a critical issue today.
But it is the motivation for the plan which marks it clearly as “official
utopianism”. Not only was there nothing to fear in medicare, said T. C. Douglas in a
speech to the Legislature in 1960, but it would mean
…that we can take from thousands of our people the fear
which is inherent in illness and the reluctance to go to a
doctor at the first sign of evil symptoms. (334-35)
The removal of fear is important for it would lead to a different kind of society. Douglas
suggested that “the 1960s promise to be Saskatchewan’s golden years in terms of
development”; however, he also pointed out that the measure of life “consisteth not in the
abundance of things” but in whether there is justice and fairness in their distribution. His
vision was for a society of “greater equality of opportunity” in which people can “enjoy
more abundant living.” The words are modest, but this is a vision of a golden age indeed.
The rhetoric about fear and security because of what is done with medicare has been a
regular feature of election campaigns since that time.
Although the co-operative movement is typically recognized as a left-of-centre
political phenomenon, Deanna Driver’s Just a Bunch of Farmers (2001) illustrates how
the political content of certain labels can change with time. It is the story of the
Weyburn Inland Terminal from 1976 to 2001; the WIT was the first independent
inland grain terminal in Canada “completely owned by farmers as shareholders.” There
are many other firsts, including the first computer technology designed specifically for
the grain business: GRIST—the Grain Recording and Information System for Terminals.
From the beginning the WIT was a private, for-profit enterprise. The original
members considered whether it should be a co-op or a corporation, and opted for the
latter. One said “I don’t think I would have been involved in it if I didn’t think it could
make money” (10). Yet in a sense this is not the complete story. Another member was
struck by the close parallels between formation of the WIT and of the Saskatchewan
Wheat Pool (36). Although ideologically the movements are different—the Wheat Pool
emerging out of left-leaning agrarian discontent with the capitalist grain system and the
WIT arising from right-leaning agrarian discontent with the public system of Canadian
Wheat Board—they share the tradition of rural protest which is perhaps deeper and older
than the labels of left or right.
The “Battle Song of the Weyburn Inland Terminal” embodies much of the same
spirit which characterized the farm radicals of an earlier generation, and with the same
utopian tinge:
Here’s to Saskatchewan, here’s to the plan;
Of vision and foresight, that’s got us rolling again.
Against men of bureaucracy who shun the farmers’ call,
Mainil has shown democracy in the Weyburn terminal.
Working with the farmers of this vast and growing land,
He’s set for them a precedent we hope will never end. (51)
The vision of a future of prosperity and democracy echoes the immigration utopia of the
settlement years and the utopian hopes of the co-operative tradition. And perhaps it is not
so different after all, given that shareholders in the late 1990’s voted to retain direct
control of the company rather than selling some of its equity to United Grain Growers
Company (162-64). Art Mainil, the first President, links the WIT to the progressive spirit
which has characterized many utopias since the Renaissance, but also to the competitive
spirit, when he says “The real reason for something like this is…they should say, ‘I’ve
done it and now somebody else will see it and they’ll know how to do it better and they’ll
accomplish more.’” (194)
Don Baron’s Jailhouse Justice (2001) is the sequel to Baron’s Great Grain
Robbery. It tells the story of farmers opposed to single-desk marketing of grain through
the Canadian Wheat Board. It takes direct aim at the utopian “social gospel” of prairie
socialism and what it sees as drastic over-involvement of government in the economy.
Baron writes that Alberta rejected the social gospel in favour of the entrepreneurial spirit,
and its population grew from 700,000 to 3 million. Saskatchewan embraced socialism
and its population is stagnant at 1 million, despite huge wealth of farmland and resources.
The “Regina Manifesto” of the CCF Party elaborated a system of central
government planning to achieve its utopian idea of a good society. Baron says here that
the social gospellers “were oblivious to one vital truth—competition and the free market
are the very basis of personal freedom and wealth production” (xii); he quotes Professor
Francis Fukuyama’s view that “a modern economy requires a decentralised and open
market to operate efficiently. And that is the very opposite of central planning” (148). In
the final chapter Baron relates this to the emerging global economy, suggesting our future
“depends on ending this catastrophe, and setting course for a new day” (189).
Martin Pederson who led the Saskatchewan Conservative Party for a number of
years, provides a personal perspective on one of the core political issues of the
province—government enterprise versus private sector and especially individual
enterprise. Pederson’s parents were Norwegian immigrants who saw, like many other
immigrants to Saskatchewan, the chance for a better life in the new world. They settled
on a farm near Hawarden where he was born, the oldest boy of eleven children. When
World War II came Pederson joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, eventually being
posted to Britain and Europe where he flew various fighter aircraft with the RAF,
primarily the Typhoon, on some 90 operational missions. After he was invalided home
near the end of the war he worked on the family farm and eventually went into business
in Saskatoon (insurance and Manpower Temporary Services). While in England he had
met his wife Kay and they began their family consisting of David and Gayle. Along the
way came his involvement in politics, first as a young Progressive Conservative leader
and then as a member of the provincial legislature of Saskatchewan and Leader of the
provincial Progressive Conservatives. Pederson also served as Chairman of the
Saskatchewan Liquor Board for ten years.
Why did you join the air force?
There are two answers to that question. On the farm I used to follow behind the
horses, ploughing twenty miles per day. I developed a real aversion to walking and I
knew that if I joined the army I’d get plenty of walking. I didn’t know anything about
ships so I decided the air force it would be. Up to that time the closest I had got to a
plane was to see a few flying over the farm. But the more serious answer is that I knew I
had to do something in the effort to stop Hitler, especially after I heard he had overrun
Norway. (This was really important because the community I lived in was very
Norwegian. I spoke only Norwegian at the time I started school.) In any case, the idea
that someone could move into a free country and virtually enslave the people horrified
How did your war experience change you?
In many ways. I flew a lot of missions and had some very close calls, including
nine aircraft crashes. I survived but it was very traumatic and by the end of my tour I
believe I was close to a nervous breakdown. One of the hardest things for a young man
was having to come to terms with death, to know that I was going to die. One time I had
319 bullet holes in my aircraft when I landed so there was a real sense of living on
borrowed time. Another time we were attacking some ships and I made a first pass and
pulled up on the stick as I released the rockets, and saw them hit far out at sea. I realized
I had to control my emotions so I could function and when we made the second pass I
was able to sink two ships.
Did that bother you?
Yes, a great deal. I come from a very religious background and I had to wrestle
with “Thou shalt not kill” over and over, especially when I imagined the sailors on those
ships, or saw troops in the open as I flew over to strafe. It is a terrible thing to have to do.
One of the most difficult things later was when I met people who would tell me I must be
glad that now the war is all behind me and I could get on with other things; they didn’t
realize that those experiences affected me so deeply that I think of them every day of my
life. But at the time I believed, and I still do believe, that Nazi National Socialism was so
evil that it had to be defeated, even at the cost of these lives.
How did you feel when you got home to find Saskatchewan had elected a socialist
government in 1944?
At first I felt that my friends and neighbours had stabbed me in the back. Of course
I soon realized that this form of socialism was not the same as the fascism of the Nazis,
but still the need I felt to oppose the collectivist philosophy of the CCF was one of my
primary missions in politics. My father was a-political, I would say, but my mother was of
the political right and she was a very strong influence. Both parents encouraged selfsufficiency, standing on your own feet and taking responsibility for whatever situation
that leads you to. There is no use whining about things. I became involved in the
Progressive Conservative Party because I thought it was closest to my belief in individual
freedom, self-reliance and responsibility.
And how did you see socialism?
I can’t say that I believe in utopia. When I joined politics I felt that an individual
could make things better and I felt at that time that one thing which would make it better
would be to get rid of the socialists. I saw them as a dark hand on the economy and that
ultimately people would leave Saskatchewan because of high taxation to pay for
expensive programs. There’s nothing wrong with striving for a better community but not
by means of the government’s owning everything. Indeed, government should get out of
all economic activity including Crown Corporations. The CCF, I must acknowledge, did
a good job of rural electrification, which made life bearable on many farms. But
circumstances have changed and Sask Power could today be privatized, provided that
remote customers would continue to be serviced.
How do you feel about Medicare?
I opposed Medicare at the time because I believed we could not afford such a
program, and this certainly appears to be confirmed now. In a sense we have always had
a two tier medical system. I don’t think this is necessarily wrong. If someone wants to pay
for additional service let him sidestep the waiting lists and do that.
You feel strongly that it is the individual who must be the agent of social change?
Absolutely. If you give a person a free reign he will rise like cream to the top of
the milk. It is the restrictions and controls placed on him by government which prevent
progress. There is no more compelling example than farming, where the product which
results is the direct result of the effort put into it.
You see the farmer as an individual?
Very much so. The current agricultural woes cannot be entirely blamed on the
drop in international prices. There are some uneconomical farming practises and there is
a significant problem of public perception. When a farmer drives onto a public highway
with a combine worth a third of a million dollars, even if he owes his shirt to the bank it
is hard to convince people that he needs financial support. I’m afraid that what I see for
the future is that rural depopulation will continue and the norm will be the corporate
farm. When the elevators and the banks leave a town, the town is doomed. There may be
a small niche for organic farming. The fears about genetic engineering of plants are
largely hogwash. Although it is true that our scale of agriculture depletes the soil it is
possible to replace nutrients by fertilizing and rotation crops. The practise of leaving the
plant and root system in the field also helps.
I must say I am rather disillusioned about our politics these days. One of the
saddest things in Saskatchewan is the division between the country and the city on
political lines. Many of us have our background on the farm and think these divisive
campaigns are appalling. People have to be willing to work together and I don’t see that
spirit as I did in former days.
Would it be fair to describe your political ideal as individuals freely working together
to build a good community?
Yes. I think what’s happened is that the spirit of self-reliance which I had always
espoused has disappeared from the scene and it needs to be re-instilled, along with a
greater spirit of camaraderie amongst politicians and all of us.
Doug Elliot’s sense of Saskatchewan’s political and social situation is different
from Martin Pederson’s yet touches a number of the same themes. Elliot is a student of
the Saskatchewan scene who bases his views upon careful statistical analysis, and he is
the publisher of Sask Trends Monitor. Doug Elliott was born and raised in Grenfell,
Saskatchewan. He attended university in Regina and took a degree in Mathematics. He
taught Calculus for a while at the University of Regina, after which he went to work for
the provincial government. Following the election of 1982 he was fired and started his
own consulting business. Working first as a consultant on First Nations issues his
business developed and now, in addition to consulting contracts, he publishes Sask
Trends Monitor, an economic, social, statistical report on Saskatchewan trends.
One of the places where your work intersects with utopianism is the concept of the
future, since most modern utopias present some version of the future. Do you see
what you do as prediction or projection, as an attempt to indicate what the future of
Saskatchewan is likely to be?
I do make a distinction between a forecast, a projection, and a prediction. I
hardly ever do predicting, but do forecasting and projection on matters that can be
forecasted or projected. Very few matters can be forecasted with much certainty but an
area which offers some degree of confidence is population demographics, which is a lot
more predictable than, for example, interest rates or retail sales. Even when people do
predict the economic future it tends to be next year or the year after, not where we are
going to be in twenty years, whereas with demographics it is possible to make some
reasonable assumptions and have a pretty good idea of where the province will be in the
long-term future.
What do the population projections look like?
There is one aspect of the population we don’t know, and it’s critical, and that is
the in and out-migration rates. The number of people who move to Alberta is a big
question mark. Aside from that we can see that the population is growing older and that
in the next while the so-called “baby-boom” generation will be moving into retirement
range. All the way along this particular age-group has been having predictable effects.
They overwhelmed the school system, and they overwhelmed the job market and the
housing market and now they will tend to overwhelm the retirement market. That’s one
big change, and the other is the growing size of the aboriginal population. By the time the
non-aboriginal population is retiring the aboriginal population will be hitting the fifteen
to twenty-four year age range. So, older and more aboriginal, and probably still near a
million people. We normally lose five or ten thousand a year, mostly to Alberta, and we
gain five or ten thousand by natural increase and immigration (though international
immigration is relatively very small) so it is hard to see our population booming if these
trends continue.
The April 2000 issue of Sask Trends Monitor focuses on the issue of diversification. It
has been suggested for years that the Saskatchewan economy needs to diversify but
you seem to be concluding that despite the political rhetoric we have not made a lot
of progress in the past.
There is a concept, not well articulated, that there is some sort of ideal economy
we should be striving for. We’re not there yet (and we never will get there of course,
because the target will always keep moving away). Over the years it seems that one idea
which has united all kinds of people, from different political parties, is that our economy
is not built right. From time to time, high wheat prices have led us to think we’re doing
ok, or high potash prices in the seventies, but those events are rarer and rarer and now
we are complaining that what we do isn’t worth anything. Ross Thatcher’s [Liberal]
government pushed for diversification, Allan Blakeney’s [NDP] government went into
resource extraction in a big way (uranium, a lot of the oil industry), making us less
dependent on agriculture but still dependent on resources. This is where the idea of
value-added or secondary processing comes in; rather than shipping raw materials, we
should be making something with them and shipping the product, thus keeping those
manufacturing jobs in the province. Grant Devine’s [Conservative] government put
money into private companies to encourage secondary processing (for example,
fertilizers and upgraded oil). But if you look at the numbers over forty years the relative
size of secondary processing is the same as it has always been. The tertiary or service
sector has been getting slightly larger because we have moved somewhat from the
purchase of goods to the purchase of services. So, this is still the fundamental flaw in the
Saskatchewan economy, that we are still just supplying raw materials to others. And we
are still heavily dependent on agriculture, which supports such secondary industries as
farm equipment manufacturers or the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
What do you think would be the “ideal economy” for Saskatchewan?
It is a somewhat nebulous concept, but I’m sure that if our secondary processing
sector was as big as Alberta’s most people would be happy. Maybe Alberta is the utopia
to Saskatchewan! It is the model economy in Western Canada. It has moved away quite
substantially from primary resource extraction. For example, they used a lot of their oil
money of the seventies to move into plastics and petrochemical products. Economists
today don’t put numbers on what mix would be the ideal economy, but whatever it is
many of them suggest they know how to get there: a smoothly functioning free-market
economy. And it is interesting that this notion of a perfect free-market is based on certain
utopian assumptions about the free flow of goods and services, the free flow of
information, but everyone knows these assumptions are not valid. Yet the theoretical
construct of the free-market economy has a lot of power and many people today buy into
the theory.
My sense is that twenty or twenty-five years ago there was a much stronger belief in
the role of government in the economy.
Yes, that’s interesting. I think it was Adam Smith who originated the notion of the
free-market economy, often identified with “laissez faire,” back in the eighteenth century.
Smith’s notion was that the “invisible hand” of the marketplace will always do the right
thing. But there certainly have been periods when it was assumed that government could
and should step in and do things to manage the economy, such as lowering interest rates.
We have moved away from that in the nineties because of the disaster of huge
government deficits which resulted from that interventionist mind-set in the 1970s and
The role of women in the economy has been changing but I gather from the magazine
that there hasn’t been as much progress as one might think.
That’s right. One characteristic of this ideal or utopian economy is that there is
equality within it between women and men, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, disabled and
non-disabled and the reality is that we are a long way from that ideal. When I say
equality I don’t necessarily mean numerical equality. There are more men than women in
the workforce but this doesn’t have to mean discrimination; it could mean only that
women choose to work less. The percentages now are about 55% and 45%, and this looks
like it has plateaued. But with respect to wages and kinds of occupations there is still a
huge disparity between women and men and the gap is closing at a glacial rate; maybe
twenty-five years from now, at this rate, we will have achieved equality. Here is one
example where the “invisible hand” of the marketplace doesn’t work all that well. In the
theoretical or utopian economy such things wouldn’t happen because women’s work
would be valued as much as men’s. 1995 data for five hundred occupations showed that
in three cases women earn more than men, whereas in four hundred and ninety-seven
cases men earn more than women, even in occupations which have traditionally been
women’s occupations, such as nursing.
A recent book by Geoffrey Hodgson called Economics and Utopia challenges the
notion that a free-market economy will bring about some kind of global utopia, and it
suggests we need a more mixed approach with substantial government intervention.
How do you feel about this?
I don’t go as far as some analysts in seeing the free-market ideology as a
conspiracy by global capitalists. I do think the pendulum needs to swing back in the other
direction but I want to be careful not to suggest we need to return to the “good old days”
because I think that is a myth too. It seems to me that there is much about the economy
which simply cannot be controlled, but we can intervene in the economy to mitigate the
negative side effects or enhance the positive side effects. That is, I don’t see government
so much as a player in the economy but as a regulator. For example, there are people
today who think we should tear up the free-trade agreement and return to the way things
were before. I think this attitude is unworkable; we can’t stop the international
marketplace from doing what it is doing, but we can do things to alleviate its effects on
people. Government’s ability is limited, one reason being that governments are still
heavily involved in paying down the huge debts of the eighties and do not have the
flexibility to do what might be required. Bob Rae in his book suggests that we can neither
stop it or change it, just as we couldn’t stop or change the Depression of the thirties; but
we can do things to mitigate its effects on people and respond to change as creatively as
Speaking of social divides, what is your sense of the urban/rural divide in
This one is mostly bad news. I can find no hint at all that the apparently
inexorable trend toward people’s leaving farms and small towns for the cities is likely to
change. This has been a trend for forty years. Of course it will have to stop sometime, as
it is hard to imagine a province consisting of Saskatoon and Regina and one large farm,
but there is no sign of change now. This is a Western, indeed a world-wide phenomenon,
and it is an example of the kinds of global forces which we are probably unable to
control. Thus I would see a government program of spending money to restore smalltown Saskatchewan as a mis-guided response to these forces, which are too strong to
deal with like that. It would make much more sense to identify the qualities we associate
with small town life and explore ways to realize these where people actually live. For
example, the creation of smaller neighbourhoods within cities is a way to have the
benefits of urban life plus the benefits of a small town. What has changed in the last
couple of decades, I think, is the attitudinal divide. The sense of rural alienation is much
more entrenched today, and both city and country people look with suspicion at each
other, and this has showed up in various political results. Since we are all dependent on
one another I hope this will go away in time.
Any other comments?
I guess I would sum up my position as one of moderation with respect to the role
of government in shaping our economy and society, moderation in the sense that there
are powerful economic and social forces at work globally and we cannot hope to manage
them but only to try to anticipate them, modify them, mitigate their effects to some extent.
For example, if the “invisible hand” of the marketplace is going to help us here we have
done something good in the nineties to help ourselves and that is to get rid of the
subsidized freight rates for grain shipping, as that is one of the reasons why we didn’t
have value added or secondary processing. I know many do not see it this way and it is
an open question whether it might or might not be too late to build that sector. I don’t see
the solution as either going back to the subsidized rates or leaving the system completely
without any regulation. The announcement in today’s paper that rates are going to be
controlled seems to be going in the right direction, so I suppose I am a moderate or
wishy-washy. But I see secondary processing as intensely competitive on a global scale
and I think our future is in niche marketing, that Saskatchewan would become to wheat
what Denmark is to ham and France is to wine: we sell our wheat for twenty dollars a
bushell because it is hard red Spring wheat and not genetically modified – that kind of a
strategy. But it is hard to imagine that being adopted as a collective rather than an
individual strategy.
It is clear that for Saskatchewan to be able to develop and prosper there must be a
global context which allows that to happen. This concluding interview deals with the
prospects for peace and utopia as seen by Professor Emeritus Oscar Seawell. Seawell
was born in 1923 at Yakima, Washington. His liberal arts college studies were
interrupted by service in the US Army during World War II. After the war he graduated
from Whitman College majoring in Math and Physics, and earned a Master of Science in
Civil Engineering at MIT. He has worked as a construction engineer, a nuclear engineer,
systems engineer and analyst developing computer models and programs, and was
Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Regina for eighteen years.
Together with the Dean of Engineering he proposed, planned and developed a new
Industrial Systems Engineering program at the University of Regina. He notes that his
experience of seeing the destruction of Manila from aerial bombardment, artillery and
fire, and the blackened level expanse of much of Tokyo’s residential and industrial areas
from firebombs, contributed to his wanting to understand the recurrence of war in human
history, the subject of his book called The Pulse of International War.
 How did you get involved with futures studies?
My general interest in international affairs contributed to this involvement. As a
young man I participated in a group advocating a strong world government as a way to
bring a better future for the world. Looking into this more closely, I realized the world
society is not ready for a strong world government, because whoever dominated that
government would have power beyond what most people would approve. I concluded
alliances of nations along with a United Nations of limited power is the best we may hope
for, realistically, now and for some time to come.
Having an interest in discussions of futures topics, I joined a futures club in
Regina in the early 1970s. We met in homes of members and in the Knox Metropolitan
Church. We discussed futures topics of interest to the members and rotated program
presentations. In the mid-1970s several of us became charter members of the Canadian
Association for Futures Studies. At a 1977 Shaping the Future Conference of that
Association, at Queen’s University in Kingston, I was a speaker on war cycles and
potential future projections of warfare levels from past cyclical trends. Also in 1979 I
presented my war cycle analyses at the Second International Conference on
Mathematical modeling in St. Louis, Missouri.
What was the origin of your work on the pulse of war?
Probably my initial curiosity about the possibility of war cycles came when
thinking of my father and me being in the military a generation apart during two world
wars. Nearly a quarter century after World War II ended, employed in the systems
analysis department at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), I helped plan
and propose computer-assisted training models for gaming military and civil-military
interactions during war or insurgency. Then in the Stanford University Library I noticed
and read a paper on war cycles by Edward R. Dewey. I was intrigued by the concept of
human interaction through warfare cycles which carried through centuries of time.
Within a year after coming to the University of Regina in 1971 I studied Dewey’s
analysis of war cycles more carefully. Wishing to understand more of the phenomenon, I
applied for and was given funds by the Province of Saskatchewan to hire four students
(typically one or two at a time) under the Youth Employment Service and Provincial
Employment Program during spring and summer periods from 1972-1974.
Using the computer and relating international warfare levels to world population,
year-by-year data compilations were plotted and historical events noted. Through
studying the data I found cyclical patterns beyond what had been found by Dewey.
What conclusions have you drawn from the study so far?
International warfare levels have followed consistent and related patterns over
many centuries. Though not identically repetitive, the repetitiveness is surprisingly
similar. I conclude that there is some complex set of feedbacks which has operated to
cause international warfare levels to be low at certain fairly predictable times, and to
rise between those times. Population growth has a significant role in augmenting
international warfare levels, but does not account for the pulsating pattern.
Within this first decade of the 21st Century we have been experiencing a minor
pulse of international warfare during a relatively peaceful time in overall relations
between nations. If historical patterns of pulsating warfare levels continue, then
approaching mid-century and in the third quarter of this century the pulsation may bring
international warfare to much higher levels of widespread violence.
Do you really think it is possible to study the future?
I think we can use past and present experience, plus logic and imagination, to
plan for the future and to project probable future events and conditions. People planning
utopias study their projected futures in considerable detail.
The term “futures studies” was coined for studies creating anticipated futures.
These studies are based upon concepts, information and analyses which I believe come
from past and present experiences and assumptions based upon these. I do not believe
that literally there is any study of the future.
I had not heard the term “futures studies” before the 1970s, and then accepted it
as simply meaning analysis of possible futures based upon what we do know and can
create in our brains using some rational basis. From this interpretation of mine, your
utopian studies typically are future studies. To date my war cycle studies are analyses of
patterns in past history which become future studies when projecting those past patterns
ahead in time.
As yet I have not entered the phase of planning how humans may change the
patterns of warfare, hopefully reducing warfare levels. That first requires learning the
causes of the cyclical warfare patterns, then finding how those causes may be altered in a
positive manner. Then your utopian futures studies and my war cycle studies will be
more closely related—both seeking to create a better future.
Given your studies, what do you think of the prospects for utopia?
For the forseeable future I hold little hope for any utopia on Earth. The world as
a whole is too highly populated and has too many differences in culture, economic
standards, attitudes, and political and military strengths to achieve harmonious relations.
That view is obtained regardless of war cycles. From my study of war cycles I
believe we will repeatedly have wars, and sometimes wars as widespread as world wars.
If we can find the reasons for international warfare cycles, hopefully we may be able to
work to alter the pattern for the better. But I do not expect wars to be eliminated in the
forseeable future.
I think most utopias have been planned as isolated communities. The world is
becoming increasingly interrelated. In my opinion there can be no isolated community
on Earth. If a utopia existed, there would be tremendous numbers of people wishing to
migrate there. That demand would be disruptive in itself, whether denied or partially
satisfied. Full demand for migration to a utopia would be impossible to meet for physical
and economic reasons alone.
The expense of migrating and living elsewhere than on Earth cannot yet be
afforded by earthly societies, I believe, though the technical capability will likely be
developed. Off-Earth utopias offer the only prospect of future achievement in my
opinion, and then with reservation as to how utopian they will really turn out to be over
the long term.
What are the countering factors?
Human differences of all sorts make the likelihood of continual harmony low, in
my opinion. We see improved societies evolving to where we can live in relative harmony
in Regina. But even Canada cannot be sure that it will remain a single country. And the
future if Quebec separates is quite uncertain. Do you think you can control the
population selection for inhabiting a utopia, in such a manner that there will not be
groups which wish to split off on a different course from that which was planned?
Mankind has fought wars throughout recorded history. Many of these have been
diabolically destructive. Do you think conflict can be avoided by separation of some
group with a utopian goal? It is a noble desire, and may bring improvement for those
involved and for a limited time. But human nature will include conflicts, and sometimes
these are likely to be destructive.
There is no possibility of improvement without trying. So I encourage any
improvement in society. I perceive some stepwise improvements, and slow, gradual
improvements, as well as some backward steps. Hope comes from understanding what is
involved, and working for improvement based upon that understanding.
What do you think are the requirements for a peaceful global community?
I think primary requirements for a peaceful global community are a strong world
government operating with incentives for peaceful cooperation, fair laws, and prompt
effective enforcement of those laws. That is looking far into the future. Lacking this type
of current global integration, the equivalent achievement within a few large world
regions is the closest practical possibility for approaching global peace. Mechanisms for
dealing with inter-regional problems may then be developed.
Probably the most peaceful world of the historical past was when there were
strong empires which ruled by law, such as Roman and Chinese empires. There were few
international wars because there were few independent countries which could go to war.
The incentive for peaceful cooperation was primarily to avoid negative retaliatory
response. Laws were administered and enforced within subdivisions of each empire, but
with the presence of centrally-controlled military force.
In the present day few nations would be willing to give up their independence for
control by an empire. Much of the world population would not choose to live under
restrictive, strict laws dictated by a remote emperor.
Repeatedly peoples attack each other, and commit atrocities against others. The
NATO alliance was not willing to send ground forces into Kosovo to forcefully stop
atrocities there. The indirect attempt to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo by bombing
Yugoslavia had the negative effect of speeding up the forcing of ethnic Albanians out of
Kosovo, with Serbia knowing that their ground operations could be carried out despite
the bombing.
The primary military role of the United Nations has been as a peacekeeping force,
most frequently where some semblance of peace had already been established. Though
sometimes the United Nations has taken other forms of effective military action on behalf
of the world community, also sometimes it has failed to act—for example, to stop
genocide in Rwanda.
We will not have a peaceful global community without a strong and effective
world military force, together with effective world laws and effective fair administration
of them in a manner which provides positive incentives for cooperation.
We are not ready to give up independence and turn over power to a world
government. There is fear of who would control it and of potentially what could be done
with that power if misused. The dominant desire to avoid negative results outweighs the
desire to achieve greater peace.
You are suggesting that there is no perfection to be achieved, but only improvement?
Chapter 5. Utopianism, Cities and the Work of Thomas Mawson in Saskatchewan
and Western Canada
The connection between utopianism and city planning goes back to the ancient
world—to plan a utopia or to plan a city involves many of the same issues and questions
about how people should live. Plato’s ideal republic is a thought-experiment and thus has
little to say about the physical form of the city, although in his Timaeus and Critias he
does offer an account of the mythical city of Atlantis. Aristotle’s Politics does offer some
advice about city planning, such as to make the street plan convoluted near the harbor so
as to confuse potential invaders. The work of ancient city planners such as Hippodamus
of Miletus and Vesuvius of Rome became influential again during the renaissance of
classical learning in Early Modern Europe. The notion of escape from the corruptions
and problems of large cities is ancient as well; it turns up widely in cultural
productions—for example the famous Aesop’s fable re-told b Jean de La Fontaine: “Le
rat de ville, et le rat des champs.” As the industrial revolution gained momentum, utopias
were often set n rural or arcadian places. William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890)
tells of a future England where cities have disappeared, for example.
In the 20th century, films and books have tended to represent the city as a dark,
dystopian Gotham of misery for all except a controlling elite. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis of
1927 is a silent film whose production values are very different from the current Hunger
Games series of movies, yet the Capitol of Panem and Lang’s city are based on a similar
political system of exploration. With awareness of an some allusions to this historical
context of utopianism and cities, the purpose of this chapter is to describe utopian
elements in the planning and development of Saskatchewan’s two largest cities,
Saskatoon and Regina. The discussion includes some early development plans, Thomas
Mawson as utopian city planner in Regina and in Western Canada, and some
developments since these early years when the basic plans of Saskatchewan’s cities were
Early Developments in Regina and Saskatoon
Both Regina and Saskatoon had their beginnings as cities in the early 1880s,
Regina as the future capital of the North West Territories and Saskatoon as a Temperance
Colony. Both cities employed the grid pattern of rectangular blocks, with some
variations due to the geography of Wascana Creek and the South Saskatchewan River.
An interesting research questions is whether there are any primary materials available
which show the thinking of the early planners of the two downtown areas, given that the
downtown streets of Saskatoon are substantially wider than those of Regina. By 1900
more substantial buildings of stone and brick had begun to replace they early cities of
tents and frame houses. By 1912 there were electrified street-car lines, some early
downtown “skyscrapers” and a real-estate boom in commercial property and residential
Maplecrest subdivision was to be located North of Dewdney and West of
Courtney, in Northwest Regina. Blocks of lots were offered for sale by real-estate broker
Thomas Murray, in November of 1912. “In This Great, Thriving City of Certainties’,” he
wrote, “I offer You a Splendid Investment.” Purchasers were to be given “easy terms”
for an opportunity better “than any ever placed on the market in Western Canada. It is
certain. There is no wild-cat scheme about it… Picture to yourself the fine buildings to
be erected in Maplecrest with the beautiful park and playgrounds, and you will readily
see that you and I have a chance to make money on the property surrounding these
buildings.” The buildings—and this is why the scheme may be regarded as tending
toward an intentional community—were to be the Roman Catholic Cathedral and all the
principal Catholic educational and charitable institutions for Saskatchewan. This Roman
Catholic community was not constructed, perhaps because a decision was made to locate
Holy Rosary Cathedral on Thirteenth Avenue, thus contradicting Murray’s claim that
“Maplecrest is where the actual development is going to take place—not near, or
alongside, but the actual spot. Do you catch that point?”
Factoria, in early Saskatoon, was originally the dream of Chicago entrepreneur R.
E. Glass. It was to be “an independent industrial city 31/2 miles north of the city” (Kerr
2). Property was optioned for six months, from December 1912 to June 1913, on the
Silverwood Farm, and a massive advertising campaign of full-page newspaper ads was
begun. The dream was partly driven by the railroads and there was some vision of
Saskatoon as “ringed with satellite cities, each of which had two characteristics, railroads
and industries” (3). Factoria was seen as one of these satellites. Mr. Silverwood took
back the land from Glass and attempted to develop Factoria himself. Some industrial
plants were constructed, including bottling, brick, saw mill and flour mill, by December
of 1913, along with a hotel and some houses. However, with the end of the boom in 1914
and the beginning of the First World War, Factoria became a “ghost town” (4).
One of the most interesting features of this episode is the patriotic and evangelical
tone of the advertising. An ad on March 24 of 1913 included words for “Factoria For
Ever!”(sung to the tune of “The Maple Leaf Forever”):
In days to come the lucky man
Who Factoria’s lots obtain,
Will pat himself upon the back
As owner of a fair domain.
There he may stand and boast with pride
That sense and cash together,
His future comfort did provide
Factoria for ever!
In May there appeared an ad titled “Faith”, the “God-spark in man, the light eternal, the
outrider of progress, the seed of deed”, “Factoria Faith” is “transforming a prairie into a
modern city… Have you $125 worth of Faith in this New Factory City? This sum will
make the first payment on a fifty foot lot at The Magic City;”. Such unabashed
boosterism borrows from the religious vision of New Jerusalem, here on earth.
In early Saskatoon there were a number of developments which had a utopian
tinge. One of these was the Utopia Subdivision. The original survey of Saskatoon was
completed by F. L. Blake, a member of the party headed by John Lake, by August of
1883. It included “all that part of present day Nutana bounded by First Street, Clarence
Avenue and the River.” The names chosen reflected “the Victorian era and the
temperance drive” (Archer 38). A later plan, published in the 1912 Real Estate Pocket
Guide to the city, extended considerably farther to the East than Clarence Avenue, and
included a subdivision named “Utopia”. Lots in the subdivision were apparently
marketed successfully by J. T. Clinkskill and F. A. Giddings for $100-150, and by 1914
had escalated in value to $250 (Twentieth Century Impressions 635). Utopia was one of
fifty-two planned subdivisions. The name had been chosen in a contest won by Miss
Constance Cameron, who “received a prize of fifty dollars from the developers—in gold,
naturally” (Berton 340). The area was not actually developed until the late fifties.
In the economic boom-time of 1911-12, when projects such as Maplecrest,
Factoria and utopia subdivision were springing up in Saskatoon, Regina and many other
cities, city councils and planning boards looked for experts to impose some order upon
the urban explosion. Thomas Mawson was one such city planner whose work in
Saskatchewan and Western Canada connects interestingly with the utopian garden city
Mawson began his practice as a landscape gardener from Lancaster and the Lakes
District. An illustrated book on landscape gardening led to invitations to lecture and
consult in Europe, North America and beyond. Designs for large gardens and city parks
became aspects of his developing role as a city planner. His 1912 book on city planning
was entitled Civic Art, which suggests in two words the core of his vision, that the
aesthetic aspects of cities were as important as their functional and economic aspects
because of the deep human need for beauty. In this Mawson was influenced by the
Romantic tradition of the 19th century, including Wordsworth and Ruskin, for which the
wild or “English” garden was a design hallmark. He was also powerfully influenced by
the more formal Neo-Classical garden tradition, which he studied extensively at
numerous large English houses.
A major characteristic of the Romantic tradition is a belief in the importance of
nature for cities, in the form of parks and gardens, what today is often called “green
space.” Mawson was also influenced in this by Ebenezer Howard, the author of Garden
Cities of Tomorrow (1898). Howard had been inspired by the socialist vision of Edward
Bellamy, whose novel Looking Backward (1888) imagined a future Boston as filled with
parks and fountains glistening in the utopian sun. Howard sought to provide a remedy for
the grimy Victorian industrial city. His ideal garden city would consist of a central or
downtown portion, with residential satellite cities in a ring around it, these cities to be
interspersed with both parks and agricultural land. Industrial areas would be on the
outskirts or in zoned areas.
The Neo-Classical side of Mawson’s urban design repertoire resonated with “City
Beautiful” movement of these years preceeding World War I. The City Beautiful was
characterized by a concern for maintaining regular proportions, for example in buildings
resembling classical temples rather than Gothic churches. Both tendencies are clear in
Mawson’s work in Western Canada. Also clear is his effort to bridge another binary
tension, between the utopian planner and the practical man of business.
All these things were evident in Mawson’s proposal for a more literal bridge—the
Centre Street Bridge which was to cross the Bow River from downtown Calgary to new
developments on the other side. The geography was an impediment to a simple solution
to the question—should the bridge be a level span to the riverbank on the other side, or
should it slant upwards to reach the bluffs? A two-level bridge, or two bridges, was
considered too expensive, although Mawson’s plan was an ingenious variant. He
proposed a level bridge across the river, but on the other side a huge elevator capable of
lifting a street car up to the bluffs to continue outward-bound from downtown. The
material submitted by Mawson to the city included correspondence with the Otis Elevator
Company, detailing specifications and cost for such an elevator. The bridge was not
built, for several reasons including two that impacted many urban design schemes of the
period: the economic boom slowed dramatically and money became harder to get, and
within two years the First World War became the major focus; many local
projects and concerns were put on hold for the duration.
As well, the nature of Mawson’s plan for downtown Calgary led to a perception
that he was a utopian dreamer rather than a practical designer. In fact he was both.
Calgary in 1912 was about thirty years old. The tents and rough frame buildings of the
1880s had been superceded by buildings of Calgary sandstone and brick, and the
downtown area was well-established. Nevertheless, Mawson’s drawing for the
downtown area leading to the Centre Street Bridge assumed a tablua rasa. Four and five
story buildings with Neo-Classical facades showed that Mawson’s “City Beautiful” side
was dominant here; the illustration is reminiscent of paintings of Renaissance ideal cities.
The effect would be something like the architectural uniformity of Regent Street in
London, and the cost to construct Mawson’s ideal downtown Calgary would have been
very high. The utopian Mawson shows through in his reports to both Calgary and Regina
city planners, when he expresses regret that they did not approach him before any
buildings were built. The city councilors and planners were well aware that cities do not
grow that way, from bare ground (although there are now quite a few examples of such
cities in the world, the most famous including Brasilia and Canberra.)
However, Mawson himself was aware of this reality, even if he expressed
impatience with the limitations it imposed. It is essential to give due weight to his
definition of city planning, as he expressed it in his Calgary plan:
“City planning is not the attempt to pull down your city and rebuild it at ruinous
expense. It is merely deciding what you would like to have done when you get
the chance, so that when the chance does come, little by little you may make the
city plan conform to your ideals.” (164)
This definition can be read as the practical side of Mawson, urging that the city should
have a plan which will be realized little by little over time, not all at once. On the other
hand, it is also a reality that the grand master-plan of one decade becomes the
paperweight of the next decade, so that in any kind of master-planning there is an element
of unreality which some would label utopian.
Mawson’s report for Calgary included plans and large colored maps for streets,
park areas, shopping centres and a subdivision dedicated to housing for workers in the
industrial area. He submitted two schematic diagrams for traffic, an ideal traffic diagram
featuring radial roads of the type in Ebenezer Howard’s garden city concept, and a
second traffic diagram he labeled “all that is possible.” He recognized, in other words,
that the prior existence of streets and buildings was a major impediment to achieving an
ideal plan. Economic downturn and war put Mawson’s recommendation in limbo. The
large maps and illustrations prepared by his office disappeared, then were re-discovered
in 1978 in the walls of a garage. Most of what he proposed was never built, although it
has been argued that his ideas did play a part in shaping Calgary’s development—for
example in the layout of the Stampede Grounds. Every few years articles about Mawson
have appeared in the Calgary Herald, some wondering regretfully what the city would be
like if Mawson’s plans had been enacted. These materials are now housed at the
Canadian Architectural Archives at the University of Calgary.
Vancouver was an important site for Mawson. His Canadian office, run by his
son John, was for a while on the eleventh floor of the Rogers Building. Mawson was
invited to be on a selection committee to review designs for the new University of British
Columbia, although he did not himself propose plans for the campus. The University of
Victoria Archives contains blueprints for his design of private residence garden at Point
Grey in Vancouver. It includes formal garden areas coming off a terrace, with lawns
dedicated to croquet and tennis—both being games with elaborate rules. Juxtaposed to
these formal lawns are areas which Mawson labels as “wild garden.” The plan is a neat
summary of the Neo-Classical and Romantic influences which both found expression in
Mawson’s work.
Mawson’s most notable public work in Vancouver was his plan for Stanley Park.
At this time the park was new and there was some controversy about whether it should be
left mostly undeveloped as a nature preserve or whether it should be “civilized’ with
lawns, sports fields, playgrounds, concessions for food and drink, and roads that
automobiles could use. Mawson’s concept included both the “wild” and the “civilized”
but his major focus was a rather formal plan for the entrance to the park at Coal Harbour.
Part of Coal Harbour was to be converted to a freshwater pond, around which would be
public buildings including a museum and a stadium. This pond was to constitute one end
of an axis running from the Park along Georgia Street into downtown, providing a
beautiful vista as well as a transportation route. His Romantic side appeared in various
ways, such as his urging to preserve natural features or to plant only native species, but
the emphasis here was very much on the planner as artist. In his plan he aimed to provide
a “perfect blending of Art with Nature, Forest with City: the entire scheme is conceived
as a great composition in which ordered balance and symmetry predominate” (145).
Mawson’s autobiography notes that his plan for Stanley Park was “unanimously
accepted” at the time. He expresses disappointment about how the work was done,
although glad that his “primary intention of converting Coal Harbour into a fresh-water
lake has now been realized” (227). In fact, the “Lost Lagoon” (so named by Pauline
Johnson) bears hardly any resemblance to the circular pond with important buildings
around it which Mawson had proposed. Mawson published his recollections in 1927,
only fifteen years after the proposal. Now the proposal is a hundred years in the past and
it is clear that Mawson’s own doubts about the reception of his Vancouver plan, that it
might be regarded as “too imaginative” or “financially unattainable” (Waymark 144),
were more realistic than his ambitious plan. A similar retrospective lesson is provided by
one of Mawson’s designs near Victoria, a suburban resort community called Meadlands
to be developed by the British Columbia Electric Railway Company.
The plan shows a garden city, with the curving streets Mawson often preferred to
the grid plan, and with radial-type roads converging on the town centre. In 1927 Mawson
concluded that this was “a very interesting project, and one which should eventually fully
justify the enterprise of this progressive company” (229). Today, however, the proposed
Meadlands site at Patricia Bay is still undeveloped coastline and farmland, being the
East-West runway corridor for the Victoria International Airport. It is obvious enough
that these stories offer a cautionary lesson about utopianism, that one impediment to the
realization of utopian visions is simply the passage of time, the disappearance of the old
actors and the emergence of new ones, the fundamental impossibility of building to last
with sand. While it is still damp it can be shaped into castles but when time passes it
dries out and crumbles into the dust Shelley speaks of in his sonnet “Ozymandias.”
Mawson's international reputation led to his engagement as the landscape
architect for the new University if Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, a relationship which
turned out to be controversial. The campus architects were Brown & Vallance of
Montreal; Mawson's commission was to link the various buildings with a suitable
landscape plan, including recommendations about plants and trees. There were several
reasons why the business relationship turned sour. One of these was simply that Mawson
could make only occasional brief visits. He engaged the Legislative horticulturalist from
Regina as advisor on the plantings and his involvement was mostly in the form of letters
written from many places, including the Assiniboia Club in Regina and on board a
steamship in the Atlantic Ocean. A second problem was the perception by President
Murray that Mawson's plans for the campus, which included the situation of buildings,
was impractical for the circulation of students. Mawson's son John responded to this from
the firm's Vancouver office, sending a schematic diagram of lines and circles to
demonstrate that the traffic pattern was practical. President Murray was not convinced of
this. The third problem, based on the other two, was the University's perception that they
had not received value for the money they had paid. The position of the Mawson firm
was the opposite; John Mawson suggested in a letter to the University Registrar in 1914
that the firm had given more value than they had been paid for; he asked for a further
payment so that he would not have to close the Canadian office until the trouble had
"blown over"--referring to the trouble that became World War I.
There are several interesting differences between the campus plan drawn by
Brown & Vallance and the plan drawn by the Mawson firm. One of these is at the site of
what is today called the "bowl," in front of the Administration Building. In the Brown &
Vallance plan this is green space enclosed within a rectangular road, while in Mawson's
version the rectangle is an oval, or more precisely, a compressed oval lens shape. There is
no longer a roadway in this area; the shape of the bowl is much closer to Mawson's
design than that of Brown & Vallance. The Brown & Vallance plan shows a number of
buildings situated on separate roads or quadrangles; Mawson's plan creates more
quadrangles around which buildings are situated in groups, although evidently not groups
which the University saw as practical. A third difference is treatment of the riverbank to
the North of the President's house: Brown & Vallance appear to leave this somewhat
wild, with a ravine, while Mawson shows a formal embankment such as was built along
the Thames in Mawson's lifetime. Whether either of these plans took account of the
sandy prairie soil is unknown, but the plan by Brown & Vallance was certainly more in
keeping with the tendency of these riverbanks to slump.
Mawson's work in Western Canada reflected the influences which shaped his
The sweeping nature of some of his concepts could well be described as utopian. His plan
for making Calgary a sort of Renaissance city on the prairies is a clear example of this,
although his insistence that the plan would have to be implemented slowly over time, as it
could be afforded, is the practical, man-of-business side. His tendency to mix formal,
classical elements with somewhat wild, romantic elements is evident in his plans for both
smaller and larger projects. Mawson's proposals for Regina certainly represent these
mixed tendencies. As well, it is in his plans for Regina, says Mawson's recent biographer
Janet Waymark, that his ideas came closest to realization.
Mawson's plan for the park area around the Legislative Building in Regina
elevates the town watering and swimming pond, created by damming Wascana Creek,
into a central, ornamental water feature, complete with two artificial islands. The islands
were not actually built until the 1930s, when they were a depression relief project:
Mawson again uses the pointed-oval lens shape as a prominent central feature. This is
most noticeable on the east side of the lake, in the proposed site for the residence of the
Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. It has been observed of Mawson's treatment of the
banks of Calgary's Bow River that he conflated a shallow and swift-flowing mountain
stream with a more sedate English river such as the Thames through London. His plan
for Wascana Lake called for piers on the east and west sides, so that the Lieutenant
Governor could be ferried across the Lake to open sittings of the Legislature. With lower
water levels in summer this could be problematical, while during the months of winter no
vice-regal boats could make the symbolic crossing.
Mawson's reputation and his availability in Regina for a time prompted City
Council to invite his thoughts on planning the city as a whole. This was exactly in tune
with Mawson's own thinking, because he saw his plan for the lake and park area as the
central landscape feature, with the rest of the city to be connected by green spaces which
would radiate from the park and also surround the city. The use of green space as a
unifying feature was very similar to Ebenezer Howard's schematic design for the garden
city. Mawson famously dislikes the grid system of planning, and in the 48 page typescript
which accompanied his drawings for Regina he lamented that the "civic doctor" was not
called in earlier, a lament he had also expressed in Calgary because streets had already
been laid out in a grid and many buildings already built. One of Mawson's solutions to
the grid was to create new radial roads through the rectangular blocks:
These new radials would receive the full Mawson treatment, with landscaping and with
features such as statuary to distinguish the end-point of a vista. One such vista is visible
here, extending both to the north and to the south of the Legislature dome. At the
downtown end of Smith Street (two blocks to the east or right of Albert Street) are market
buildings. A few blocks south at 16th Avenue, now College Avenue, are to be the City
Hall and civic offices; these are to be taller than the market buildings but not so tall as the
Legislature dome. These building heights along the north-south vista would reflect
Mawson's view of the relative importance of the three sites. It is worth noting that
Mawson's view is arguably more substantive than simply to say that premiers are more
"important" than mayors, and the like. The three sites also represent a descending order in
terms of community, with the provincial government representing the entire province, the
city government one city, and the market various private economic interests.
Mawson's traditional views were also reflected in a theoretical zoning diagram
which was included with his plans for the city. Regina city planners of the 1970s were
critical of the obvious class bias of Mawson's schematic plan of 1912, which paralleled
his Calgary plans for the suburb of Connaught for industrial workers. Mawson made
many statements to the effect that he wanted the amenities of the modern city to be
available to all and not just to the wealthy. At the same time, he was essentially a late
Victorian who had been involved in that quintessentially Victorian task of making model
villages for working people. He went on to design such villages for servicemen returning
from World War I.
City Developments after Mawson
Mawson’s vision for Regina was not immediately implemented. The Great War,
the slow-down of immigration, falling property values, the Depression, and the Second
World War—all these had their effect upon the prairie city. A Town Planning Board was
established in 1924, a zoning map approved in 1927, a Town Planning Commission set
up in 1930. The rebuilding of the Albert Street Bridge and the construction of two
islands in the lake with earth dredged from deepening it, as depression relief projects,
were signs that Mawson’s plan had not been entirely lost. However it was not until the
late fifties, when the decision was made to locate a campus of the University of
Saskatchewan on the southern edge of the city, that Mawson’s idea was re-born. Minoru
Yamasaki (the architect) and Thomas Church (the landscape architect) stated explicitly
that their 1962 Master Plan for the Wascana Centre was “an extension of Mawson’s
Plan.” The Authority is a legislated partnership of the provincial government, the city
and the university to develop the Wascana Centre for defined purposes, which is “the
very authority that the Mawson Plan lacked “to make it a reality” (Dale 107). It is an
innovative concept whose roots are in the utopian tradition and which retains, still, many
links of ideas and spirit with utopian thought. The excerpts in Appendix II will give some
flavour of the text which accompanied the original Mawson Plans.
One of the specified purposes of Wascana Centre was education, coinciding with
the post-war expansion of higher education around the world. Minoru Yamasaki was the
master planner chosen for the new Regina Campus and he was the architect for the first
buildings, which opened in 1965. These buildings, the "Classroom" and "Laboratory"
buildings, as well as several subsequent buildings, were linked by a one story podium to
give the sense not of completely separate constructions but of a single, unified structure.
As a practical matter, this was a response to Saskatchewan's hard Januaries and
Februaries, in that students and professors would not need to go outside to change
classes. However, a recent work on architectural history by Stefan Muthesius sees this
kind of building as part of a phenomenon of the 1960s, both in North America and
Europe, a phenomenon it describes as "utopianist". This search for a unified campus
architecture reflected new ideas about the integration of knowledge:
The highest aim of the designer and the client was the unity of all the complex
factors, a totality, culminating in the combination of campus and college.
Optimum unity of effort and design is, of course, the basic aim of any utopian
project. (10)
One of the values which the planners hoped to enact with a unified campus, says
Muthesius, was "spontaneity," the unplanned contacts between people and ideas which
would generate new paradigms, and privilege the interdisciplinary rather than the
traditional separations. The irony is that "the planners were hell-bent on devising an
environment that would encourage spontaneous social contacts” (5). Whether or not they
succeeded in this utopian aim is a matter of opinion, and one opinion was expressed in a
poem in the student newspaper The Carillon in 1968: “Walking through hallways
of/solid glass/One wonders what totalitarian/impulses/Created this landscape of void/This
vacuum of invention.” The writer added “this place wasn’t built for humans, it was built
for computers.” Another student called for someone to donate traffic lights for the
hallway near the cafeteria: “I cannot stand the crush, my territory is being constantly
violated.” Two other examples of the “utopianist” mode of architecture, seeking to
connect thought by connecting structure, are Arthur Erickson’s designs for Simon Fraser
University in Vancouver, and for the University of Lethbridge.
It is notable how the words “ideal,” “beautiful,” and “garden” appear repeatedly
in Mawson’s text about a plan for Regina (Appendix II). The same utopian theme is
present almost constantly whenever various plans and visions for the city are proposed.
A major one of more recent years was Renaissance Regina, an ambitious redevelopment
scheme planned for the 1990s. Renaissance Regina was based on the relocation of
downtown rail yards to the outskirts. The development period was to be from 1992 to
2002, but when rail relocation did not materialize the plan, as a total concept, was
shelved. The aim of this massive downtown redevelopment was nothing less than "to
knit the fabric of the city back together…to bring new life to the heart of the city." With
these words (from the Renaissance Regina brochure) the planners echoed Mawson's use
of the body metaphor and the ideas that circulation and a vital center were critical to a
healthy city. The plan called for commercial development such as the Festival Market
Square north of Union Station (now Casino Regina). Extensive residential development
would bring people back into the core of the city, along with school and recreational
facilities. There is a Bellamy-like utopian ring to the concept of "a necklace of parks and
squares" which will link major facilities, with water features and extensive tree planting.
The plan to construct a major public building on Smith Street would complete the idea of
a “legislative axis” which was an element of Mawson's conception.
Often today it is the green city or the sustainable city which is identified as
utopian, which includes the less complex earlier idea of providing parks for urban
recreation and contact with nature. Lewis Mumford notes that the Emperor’s bequest of
his own gardens to the Roman public is one of the earliest instances of open spaces
devoted to recreation within a city (225). But the idea did not really lodge in popular
consciousness until the 19th century. Two things, not unrelated, occurred at once. The
industrial revolution threatened to turn the landscape into mile after mile of dreary
brick—and in fact it did so to a substantial degree. The other thing was a glorification by
Romantic writers, such as Wordsworth, of unspoiled nature. One indication of the
working of this dialectic was the outcry by the London public when ancient elm trees in
Hyde Park were threatened for the Great Exhibition of 1851, solved by building the
“Crystal Palace” over the trees. By the end of the 19th century this urban Romanticism
had evolved into the “garden city” idea popularized by Ebenezer Howard. Mawson,
made a plan for early Regina as the “garden city of the prairies” and this concept became
the foundation for Regina’s beautiful urban park, the Wascana Centre. The utopian
content of this resides particularly in two elements: the idea of planning and shaping
space for future use in civic, artistic, recreational and educational ways, and the reference
to the garden which appears through the ages in utopian lore.
However, Regina is not the only city in the province which has embraced the
ideal of harmoniously blending the built environment with the natural environment.
Haldane Heath was an area of about sixteen city blocks which appeared on a 1910 map
of Saskatoon. It was to be located Northwest of downtown, outside the city limits
immediately to the North of the Windsor Park subdivision. Like other features of the
“boom” era it was never built, but it is an interesting example of the movement to
reintroduce nature back into the city by means of curving streets and crescents (rather
than grid pattern) and substantial open park area, the same impulse, which is found in
Ebenezer Howard’s “garden city.”
Saskatoon’s Meewasin Valley Authority, also a partnership of city, university
and provincial government, is charged with conserving and enhancing the beauty of the
South Saskatchewan River Valley (Meewasin means beautiful). The valley stretches
through the city and beyond and is not, therefore, so much a single park as it is a system
of parks linking the city together with green space. Although they do not have legislated
authorities in the same formal sense, both Prince Albert and Swift Current have park
systems. Swift Current’s Chinook Pathway runs along the Swift Current Creek and
connects a number of the city parks. Prince Albert’s Little Red River Park system does
the same, although it is larger and explicitly utopian: “Wander through 1200 acres of
paradise.” Moose Jaw’s Wakamow Valley Authority is a city Board charged with
planning and developing the valley of the Moose Jaw River at the place where the river
turns (Wakamow means turn in Cree), by protecting wildlife and planting thousands of
trees. Behind all of this activity is the notion of achieving not only a city beautiful to
look at but a city satisfying to live in, and this is at least a partial impulse toward utopia.
Illustration from Renaissance Regina brochure: downtown neighbourhood7
Chapter 6. Cultural Expression Utopianism from the 1890s to the 1970s
The works of literature and art surveyed in this and the following chapter are not
utopias, or dystopias, in the accepted generic sense of works which describe in some
detail a better or worse society. However, these articles, novels, plays, poems and
paintings do make allusions to utopian and dystopian themes. This illustrates how
pervasive the utopian idea was and is in Saskatchewan culture. The dream of a better
place is, of course, a universal human dream; it would be possible to trace it in the
cultural productions of other times and other places as well, so it is hardly unique to
Bertram Tennyson was a nephew of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. His collection of
prose and verse essays, some previously printed in various journals, was published in
Moosomin in 1896. "The Land of Napioa" is an essay celebrating the beauty of the
Northwest Territories, of which the following passage is an example:
The morning air is still, for no wind has yet awakened, and from a
distant farm house, tree-hidden from our gaze, a cock-crow comes clear
and defiant; we hear a dog bark far way, and nearer at hand a farmer
shouts to his team; the long shadows stretch away from the lately risen sun
across the rolling prairie, and away in the distance in the long blue line of
the Pipestone Valley. That is our destination, and, rousing our horses, we
dash across the prairie towards it, through a beautiful county gemmed with
scarlet tiger lilies and golden marigolds, the champaign broken here and
there by clumps of the universal aspen poplar, which give a park-like look
to the scenery. An hour's ride brings us out on a vast and silent valley,
which, doubtless, once, ages ago, during the subsidence of the waters, held
a mighty river. Now the stream has dwindled sadly to a winding and lazy
brook, fringed with soft maple and clumps of grey willow. From our
place at the top of the bank the valley slopes sharply downward in one
foaming, smooth cascade of snowy petals, broken here and there by an
island knoll of tender blue flax flowers. Far below the brook loses itself in
many a backward curve, here grey in shadow, there a sabre's gleam. What
a lonely valley this has been for many centuries, lonely without any touch
of hebitude. (72-73)
The idea of a beautiful valley has been a recurring utopian theme and this particular area
(the Pipestone Valley) is associated with the community of French aristocrats at St.
Hubert and the Scottish settlers at St. Andrews. But what is most striking about
Tennyson's description is the notion that this is empty land, land with no history or
associations… that is, for the white settler! In this sense it is a land where anything might
happen and so Napioa has this slight tinge of the utopian. In legends of the Blood Indians
(Blackfoot) Napioa is a name for the Creator who fashioned the earth from mud brought
by the turtle from under the primordial waters.
While he lived at Moosomin Tennyson was a stage-coach driver before he studied
law and he frequently visited Cannington Manor as part of his sporting life. He served
heroically with Middleton in the 1885 Rebellion and later, yearning for adventure, left
Moosomin for the Yukon gold fields. He died in his forties back in London.
Both Will Paynter and Ed Paynter went on from Hamona Colony (Harmony
Industrial Association) to busy lives as leaders in the co-operative movement and both
wrote utopian works. Will Paynter’s The Trumpet Call of Canadian Money and
Progress (4 editions, 1921-32) challenged what he saw as a corrupt capitalist system.
The financial plan which is Paynter’s response to this system is in essence very simple.
Rather than limiting the money supply to what can be financed through bond issues, then
having to pay discounts and interest to the banks, the government should eliminate this
expensive and ultimately unmanageable debt problem and issue the money itself (44).
He does not propose a foolishly inflationary printing of “funny money” but a program,
administered through a new central Bank which is also one of the suggestions (49), of
increasing the money supply from less than 200 to at least 500 million, in accordance
with the “yardstick” of “national wealth and public bank savings”, and this would
stimulate economic activity “throughout the Dominion” (62). The political plan for
implementation of this vision is contained in the concluding letter (64-65): those who
have been convinced that “the present capitalistic, competitive system has outlived the
age of its usefulness and should be replaced by a new and equitable system of production,
and service for use, and not for profit,” are asked to sign and return the “Oath of Service”.
Ed Paynter wrote a number of utopian pamphlets and books, one of the most
interesting being The New World Order And How It Will Be Established published in
1941. It develops and elaborates themes from his earlier works, some of the basis for
which may be seen in the Constitution of the Harmony Industrial Association. The
purpose of the book is to present Paynter’s ideas about the origins and nature of the world
(Chapters 1-6), his analysis of the modern financial and political order (Chapters 6-9),
and his plan for the new world order (Chapters 10-12). He suggests that at the centre of
the earth is a hollow space some seven thousand miles wide, and that this is Paradise or
the Garden of Eden. He relates this both to Old Testament history and to proposed
solutions for scientific problems such as the cause of the Aurora Borealis, although his
descriptions are frequently poetic, reminiscent of mythology like that of William Blake:
“Fully one-third of the present land surface lies north of the 60th parallel of latitude and is
ruled over by the Frost King…” (53). At the end of this first section he denies the
existence of evil as a separate thing in itself and sees it, as do many utopians, as a
“maladjustment in personal, communal or national life” (84).
In the modern world this maladjustment is reflected in the international financial
order which does everything to maximize gain, at the cost of sucking the “life-blood of
the labouring people of the nations”, and creates war or peace and manipulates political
structures in whatever way will increase its return (87). This analysis is followed by a
proposed remedy which is not based on class struggle but on the reform of monetary
policy, an idea he shared with his brother Will. The new fiscal system (there is no
interest, social credit is to fund public works, and goods are to be distributed justly) is to
be implemented through a political movement involving the gradual eradication of
nationalism (for example the distinction between Americans and Canadians would
disappear) and the establishment of a quasi-military system of social and political
organization in all countries of the world, called the Brotherhood of United Israel. The
Brotherhood would be based on a system of ten, one hundred and one thousand organized
under Captains, Centurions and Millenars. The purpose of the Brotherhood is “…to take
over, by honorable and legal methods, the full administration of any present governing
body, but in such administration, no dominating force methods will be permitted (156).
This “Plan of Action for United Israel” is for a theocracy which blends biblical ideas with
Bellamy “Nationalism” and monetary reform to create Ed Paynter’s unique utopian
Edward Alexander Partridge was born in 1861, one of fourteen children, on a
farm near Barrie, Ontario. After completing school at Barrie he received his teacher’s
certificate and taught for several years, heading West to homestead in 1883. He took a
quarter near Sintaluta but money was short so he taught school and during the Riel
Rebellion of 1885 served as a private in the Yorkton Company Active Militia of Canada.
He married Mary Stephens of Balcarres in 1886 and they had five children. The
homestead at Sintaluta was known as “The Bluffs”.
Partridge was prime mover and organizer in a number of important farm
organizations, beginning with the Territorial Grain Growers’ Association formed in 1901.
Among important episodes were the Association’s taking the CPR agent at Sintaluta to
court over allocation of rail cars, and winning, and the occasion when Partridge was sent
to inspect the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and became known as “That man Partridge”
because of his determined observations. He was first editor of the Grain Growers’
Guide. His proposal for government owned elevators became known as the “Partridge
plan”—legislation to set up the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company was
introduced in 1911.
In subsequent years Partridge suffered personal tragedies (in addition to the earlier
loss of his leg in a farm accident, the drowning of his daughter in 1914 and the loss of
both sons in the War). He was honoured by a resolution at the first annual meeting of the
United Farmers of Canada, in 1926, which described his behaviour as “characterized by
absolute unselfishness” (Knuttila 45). Partridge published A War on Poverty in 1925, a
radical co-operative analysis of capitalist society which includes Partridge’s own utopian
proposal “Coalsamao”. An excerpt from “Coalsamao” appears in Appendix III. It is a
fascinating mixture of ideas which include the requirement for all to work (as in
Bellamy’s Looking Backward), a suburban rather than urban or rural landscape (which
parallels Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City idea of the late twenties), and a strict
sexual morality including a prohibition of dancing. Partridge died in 1931.
Frederick Philp Grove, in Our Daily Bread (1928), is not so positive about cooperation as other writers. John Elliot is a pioneer settler near the fictitious town of
Sedgeby, Saskatchewan. The novel opens in 1906 when the Elliot children are nearly all
grown up and it traces the family’s fortunes until the 1920s when John Elliot, a “Lear of
the Prairie”, disappointed with his children’s lack of success and ingratitude, dies as an
old man almost eighty. It is a mirror image of the idealistic vision of co-operatives—
Elliot avoids buying shares in “Farmers Limited”, a “huge co-operative undertaking
owned by the farmers, having for its aim the marketing of their produce and the purchase
of all their needs” (18), and which is eventually revealed as a crooked scheme. This antiutopianism is qualified at the end, however, when Elliot directs proceeds from sale of his
farm after his death to establishing a seed grain fund for farmers hit by drought or hail
A recent film starring Pierce Brosnan has brought back awareness of the story of
Grey Owl. His birth name in England was Archie Belaney and a childhood fascination
with Indian people led him to emigrate to Canada in 1906 to live among them. He served
in World War I, then returned to live among the Ojibway in northern Ontario. From there
he moved to his last home, a cabin in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan. He
was a naturalist and an early conservationist, giving lecture tours and writing stories
about his beloved wilderness.
One such text is his 1931 book entitled The Men of the Last Frontier. Here he
describes a region he calls the Borderlands, lands where civilization has not yet reached.
There are no laws, except the unwritten ones and it is a land set apart:
Here, even in these modern days, lies a land of Romance, gripping
the imagination with its immensity, its boundless possibilities and its
magic of untried adventure. Thus it has lain since the world was young,
enveloped in a mystery beyond understanding, and immersed in silence,
absolute, unbroken, and all-embracing; a silence intensified rather than
relieved by the muted whisperings of occasional light forest airs in the
tree-tops far overhead. (27)
This primeval land is a kind of Eden and it is threatened by the “conquering march of
modernity” (24). Examples of this are the tragedy of near extinction of the buffalo, two
hundred million pounds of meat left rotting on the plains (74) and the lesson of the
wheat-growing areas of the west:
The ruinous “scratch-the-land-and-reap-a-fortune” policy of the
propagandists of settlement schemes in the past has been followed only
too closely; and, insufficiently fertilized, the soil, having given all it had,
is beginning to run out. (146)
He rejects the “golden West” utopianism of some of these schemes and is fearful that the
same spirit will be applied to the forest lands. The conclusion to the Epilogue seems to
suggest that this primeval, Edenic utopia of the Northern Forest will disappear:
And with them went all of the wild that had life, following the last
fading line of the Vanishing Frontier, Northward, Northward, ever
Northward, back into the days that are long forgotten, slipping away over
the hills into the purple distance, beyond the Land of Shadows, into the
sunset. (216)
The great Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock developed a utopian theme in
several of his works. In 1932, Leacock published Afternoons in Utopia, a satire which
demonstrated extensive knowledge of works such as Bellamy’s Looking Backward. My
Discovery of the West of 1937 is Leacock’s humorous notes on travel through Western
Canada. Much about this work also reflects the utopian tradition—chapter titles include
“Eldorado in the Wilderness” (gold mining), “The Island of the Blest (Vancouver Island,
and “The Land of Dreams” (The North). However, it is in Chapter Fourteen,
“Immigration and Land Settlement,” where Leacock clearly echoes the Saskatchewan
colonization experience and proposes a utopian scheme of his own. The basis of this
scheme, which Leacock wrote about in other works too, is a new wave of immigration
into Canada, to bring in new capital, open the country up, and reverse the economic
downturn of the Depression years. The “ideal settlement” will be self-sufficient, rather
than dependent upon the vagaries of international markets (234). The company will bring
settlers, “all British”, to the “Valley of Hope”, including those who have enough money
to establish a “Manor”—perhaps a reference to Cannington (239). The settlement should
not be too small or too big, it should be built on a plan, it should pay a small dividend to
“avoid the two extremes of naked individualism and hug-me-tight communism” (233),
and it will provide a mixed form of public and private medical care. Although the tone is
ironic and whimsical in places, the essence of the chapter seems to be a serious proposal.
Leacock concludes by recalling that the dreams of Fourier and Louis Blanc failed, and
adds “Perhaps this won’t” (241).
See Appendix V for an excerpt from My Discovery of the West.
Sinclair Ross’s As For Me And My House (1941) is a narrative by the wife of the
Reverend Philip Bentley, a minister at Horizon church during the tough days of
Depression era Saskatchewan. Philip is a failed artist and writer who seems not to be
suited for what he is doing, so there is a bleak and sombre tone to the story of their life in
the miserable little house beside the church. Add to this the tensions which come with
Philip’s marital infidelity and it seems that this story can only end one way—tragically.
But it doesn’t, and one reason is that there is just a suggestion of hopefulness in
the mix. Philip is beaten down by life but he has a history of coping with it:
He grew up in one of these little Main Streets, rebelling against its cramp
and pettiness, looking farther. Somewhere, potential, unknown, there was another
world, his world; and every day the train sped into it, and every day he watched it,
hungered, went on dreaming. (28)
Now as an adult he has forgotten this in his despondency, thinking he has “nothing much
left to dream about” (64). One of the things which precipitates the decision to quit the
ministry is a holiday they take to a ranch so Philip can do some painting: they leave the
prairie and suddenly spread out before them are “the valley and the river” (92). This
image is like an oasis amidst the prevailing images of drought and wind, a suggestion of
the garden. But they go back to Horizon, Philip’s adulterous relationship results in a
baby and things do not look promising. The narrator compassionately decides they will
adopt the baby after its mother dies and they plan to leave Horizon and the ministry to
run a second-hand bookstore in a small university city. The baby doesn’t look like Philip
yet but Philip “is starting to look like him. It’s in the eyes, a stillness, a freshness, a
vacancy of beginning” (165). This clear note of hopefulness is how the story ends but
perhaps, after all, it was there at the beginning in the name of the town, Horizon—that
place just at the border of the world we can see and the world beyond we have to
Paul Hiebert’s Sarah Binks (1947) is the tongue-in-cheek literary biography of
the “sweet songstress of Saskatchewan,” complete with many of her immortal poems:
Over the moor at dusk there fled
The dismal clouds, and we,
Facing the rain, with might and main,
Me and my love and me. (89)
Sarah’s home town of Willows is no garden-city and the poetess who won the coveted
Wheat Pool Medal was not impressed when she visited Regina. She said of Wascana
Lake, elsewhere in this volume referred to as a feature of Thomas Mawson’s garden city
plan, it is a “mean little puddle; I could spit across it” (91). However, Hiebert in his
introduction creates a sort of retrospective utopia:
Sarah’s dates, 1906 to 1929, practically define it. They were the halcyon
days of Western Canada, the golden days of the dirt farmer…On a small
scale the Golden Age of Pericles in Greece, or the Elizabethan age of
England, finds its counterpart in Canada’s fairest and flattest province
Sarah’s final poem in the volume is also a retrospective piece about autumn nights in the
Sounds of dogs, and creaking wagons,
And the heavy smell of grain—
And the call of distant voices
That I’ll never hear again. (151)
Although the utopian tradition is now associated with visions of the future it is held by
many scholars to have begun with visions of a happy and harmonious past time, and it is
precisely such a golden age which Hiebert evokes in these passages.
W. O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen The Wind (1947) is a Canadian classic about a
boy growing up in Weyburn, and beginning to come to terms with life and death. There
is nothing utopian about this town and its inhabitants. On the contrary, the portrait is
gritty and realistic, from the harsh weather of these early depression years to the
prejudices and limitations of the people. There is a “wrong side” of town, there is
poverty, and there is dying. After an act of cruelty to a Chinese family Miss Thompson
exclaims “Oh, Peter—the world’s an awful place!” and he responds “…you’re just
finding out?” (162)
It is because of the realism of the narrative that a couple of passages stand out.
One comes early, when the Minister Mr. Hislop is reflecting upon the intolerance of his
congregation and he thinks back to his time in the Peace River country of Alberta. The
community had “ a naïve and simple friendliness that seemed to go with the newness of
the country” (49). So it is interesting later in the story, after another crop failure,
“farmers and their families moved westward and northward to Alberta and the Peace
River country” (171). It is as though the town cannot exist only in the dimension of hard
depression-era realism. An escape-valve is needed, a dream of some better place, and the
aptly named Peace River may be that place in Mitchell’s story. It is the role fulfilled by
California for victims of the American mid-west dustbowl, and, ironically, the role filled
by the prairies themselves to the previous generation of settlers who hoped to build a new
society. There are just tiny hints of this in the “ideal blue” of the Spring sky (103) or
Brian’s vision of the town as seen from the prairie at the end of the novel—“gray and low
upon the horizon, it lay, not real, swathed in bodiless mist” (299). This fictional
Weyburn is far too real to be called utopian in any sense, and these hints of another
reality are the more striking because of it.
There is an interesting utopian connection between Saskatchewan and Aldous
Huxley. In 1953 Huxley read an account of research being conducted by Dr. Humphry
Osmond and others at the Saskatchewan Hospital in Weyburn. This was research into the
use of mind-altering chemicals for the treatment of psychotic disorders, as well as to
determine the effects upon mental functioning generally, upon creativity for example.
Huxley sent a letter which Osmond answered, then the two met when Osmond traveled to
Los Angeles for a conference. Osmond took Huxley to some sessions at the conference,
at which Huxley crossed himself devoutly whenever the name of Freud was mentioned—
an allusion to the satirical use of “Our Freud” in Brave New World (Bedford 536-37).
Under Osmond’s supervision Huxley took mescalin, and recorded the results in The
Doors of Perception (1954). He incorporated many of these insights into his last
completed novel—Island (1962). Huxley had written one of the most famous dystopian
novels in Brave New World (1932), and Island was his positive vision for a utopian
community set on the Pacific island of Pala. Huxley’s utopians practice meditation, but
occasionally they take the moksha medicine, a hallucinogenic chemical which gives them
a fuller awareness of reality.
Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow (1962) is a book about that area of Saskatchewan
near Eastend (called Whitemud) and the Cypress Hills. It is part history, part novel about
life on the range and part memoir of the author’s boyhood around the time of the First
World War. The utopian theme appears both at the personal level of the author’s direct
experience and at the more abstract level of historical reflection.
One of the later chapters is called “The Garden of the World”—the title is ironic
but the experience of the boy early in the book seems to bear it out:
So the world when I began to know it had neither location nor time,
geography nor history. But it had a wild freedom, a closeness to earth and
weather, a familiarity with both tame and wild animals. It had the physical
sweetness of a golden age. It was blessedly free of most conventional restrictions,
and its very liberation from the perspectives of time and place released our minds
for imaginative flights into wonder. Our sensuous and imaginative education was
exaggerated, but nobody told us much about what is now sometimes called “vital
adjustment.” (28-29)
But this evocation of the golden age is set against a tough reality of town dump (chapter
3) and bare subsistence living. The sense of white settlement as an intrusion upon nature
is reflected in comments about imposition of the rectangular survey system and
inappropriate farming practises. (59).
The same mix appears at the social level, in comments about the town of
Whitemud: “we all dug our winter fuel from the sidehill, and where else but in the
Garden of the World could you do that?…Progress? It is impossible not to believe in
progress in a frontier town. Every possibility is open, every opportunity still untested. In
the shadowless light before sunup, no disappointments or failures show. And everybody,
everybody, is there for the new start” (250-51). But this sense of boundless opportunity,
what Stegner calls the “myth of the Garden West” is sharply contradicted by the realities
of geography and weather and the “marginal nature of agriculture on the arid Plains”
(255). In this sense Whitemud is “an object lesson in the naïveté of the American hope of
a new society” (287). Finally, Page Stegner’s introduction to a new edition of Wolf
Willow suggests that the story of survival in such a challenging place illustrates “the
triumph of cooperation over rugged individualism” (xx), an important frontier virtue and,
of course, an important Saskatchewan virtue.
R. D. Symons’s The Garden of the Manitou (1973) is a story as related to him by
the “last great Medicine Man of the Cree”, Morning Child. It recounts the creation of the
prairie by Weesahkahchak who said “this shall be a prairie and a grassland and a pasture.
This shall be the Garden of the Manitou. It is good” (26). The spirit directed humans to
live in harmony with nature, to take bison and beaver only when needed and always to
share with others (29). There were many things put in the Garden for people to use, but
no one was to increase his wealth “for all were free and put there by the hand of the KisāManitou” (36).
But into this Eden came the people of the “pale visage” (42). They divided the
land into lots and sent their steaming dragons to run across it on metal tracks (44). They
gave trade goods to the people but in the process they gained ownership of the prairie.
The people became captives by the power of paper and then the white strangers declared
“a war against the garden” (53). They killed animals to extinction and damned the rivers
and so we come to the present when things look bleak. Except a “remnant” of the vision
remains. A great eagle tells Morning Child that the strangers will tire of their metal and
begin to yearn for the spirit—“And the white man and the red shall live as brothers,
sharing wisdom whereby one does not make himself lord over others” (59). The
Epilogue is an ironic footnote. After Morning Child dies the narrator returns to his white
people. He meets a man who says it is better Morning Child, the old troublemaker, is
gone, because now “perhaps we can civilize the Indians” (62).
Ken Mitchell’s Davin: The Politician (1979) tells the story of Nicholas Flood
Davin, for whom Davin School in Regina is named. Davin was an Irish immigrant, a
poet and journalist, founder of the Regina Leader and the Conservative Member of
Parliament from Regina for the North West Territories in the 1880s. He had high
political ambitions for himself but the play traces his tragic fall from power to being “a
political outcast and a suicide.” He also had high ambitions for his chosen home, and
Mitchell writes that Davin wanted nothing less than the “creating of a civilization for the
multitudes that were to follow, a utopia of prosperity and cultural vitality he envisioned
in his speeches and publications” (5).
The text of the play contains a number of passages which develop this theme.
One of Davin’s poems describes Regina as “A pleasant city on a boundless plain/Around
rich land where peace and plenty reign” and Davin himself speaks as a genuine utopian:
I tell you, this is the promised land! This pig-yard will one day feed the world’s
starving. We can create a new society—without five centuries of bloody war
behind it. No religious feuds! No bloated aristocracy—a tabula rasa. (19-20)
In keeping with his radical views Davin moves in Parliament that the vote be extended to
women, seeing this as necessary in a “new era” (80). Even Walter Scott, who was
Saskatchewan’s first Premier, has tinges of the utopian as he speaks of the “far distant
West” with its golden mountains” (48) and the coming of what he calls the “Age of
Prosperity” (117).
Chapter 7. Cultural Expressions of Utopianism from the 1980s to the Present
The word culture, as it is understood today, covers a very broad range from
literary and artistic productions, to popular culture productions such as advertising, to
traditions and customs which define the identity of a people or a group. Dreams of a
better life or a transformed society appear frequently in all these cultural forms.
Typically they are not developed and articulated into a coherent vision of the alternate
world, as they would be in a utopian novel. Nevertheless, they are well-worth paying
attention to, for they help to define human beings as a species capable of imagining what
might be or what could be.
Two works of creative non-fiction by Warren Cariou and Trevor Herriot associate
the utopian dream with particular Saskatchewan places. Cariou’s Lake of the Prairies
(2003) is a memoir about growing up in Meadow Lake. The narrator imagines the
“idyllic life” of the Indians before white settlement, but then says it was a “hopelessly
idealized image, drawn largely from the books I had read on Native customs in grade
four, which were invariably illustrated with pastoral scenes of indigenous communities”
(120). If utopia is not to be found in the past, nor is it to be found in the present: “the
district is far from being a utopia of racial harmonization.” There are occasional
outbreaks but mostly racial tension “just simmers.” At the same time there are stories
like the one about the elderly Polish couple who came to Meadow Lake because they
thought it must be the “safest place in the world.” This, however, might have been a
figment of “Meadow Lake’s more utopian ideas of itself” (23-24).
Some of these utopian ideas were born in the thirties when Meadow Lake was
renowned “as the place that got rain” (42) and pioneers came in droves. But the utopian
impulse is most genuinely felt in “the help of the rural community”:
While the kids on the bus were skeptical about us, their parents must have felt a
certain communitarian sympathy for us, because we were welcomed with a
hospitality and a generosity that was far beyond what anyone could have
expected. (136-37)
It is this sense of community which transcends the barriers of generations and races
which offers the hope there is for the future.
Trevor Herriot’s River In A Dry Land (2000) is the beautifully-written reflective
narrative of a journey through the valley of the Qu’Appelle River. It is the story about a
search for something, and in the Prologue Herriot alludes clearly to the utopian when he
speaks of the “deeper, older exile that set us onto a trail of looking for the next fertile
valley, a better home, a richer life. This first exile, summarized in the Eden myth, is the
one that drew us apart from the rest of Creation and its wildness…” (3). The journey
takes the narrator eastward along the Qu’Appelle back to the area around Tantallon
where Herriot lived as a child. It is a journey back to the garden, Aunt Bea’s garden to be
specific, not wild nature yet “a world beyond the rapacity in our lifeways, the shortsightedness in our agriculture” (324).
Herriot’s chapter 26 gives an account of Hamona, a utopian experiment of 18951900 in the Valley not far from Tantallon and Spy Hill (see Harmony Industrial
Association and Appendix I). A delightful feature of this telling is the narrator’s vivid
description of the Hamona grounds, the foundations of which remain despite nature’s re-
establishment in vegetation and animal life. The chapter concludes with a reflection on
the idea of perfectibility as “our sustaining myth”:
…I find myself wondering whether something of our immigrant ancestors’
willingness to turn away from the old and take a chance on the new has
survived the failed utopias and lost rural cultures. When I go to the
eastern Qu’Appelle now, I bear with me my own utopias and imagine
ways of reinhabiting the countryside, reclaiming rural culture. Blending
the Paynters’ social ideals and my grandfather’s aspirations of selfsufficiency, in my daydreams I gather like-minded souls with a prospectus
for Hamona II. We take another five-year lease out on utopia, build our
community in the valley, and see where it leads. (249-50)
Two fictional expressions, very different from each other, are by Ron Petrie and
Guy Vanderhaeghe. Ron Petrie’s Leader-Post column occasionally tells of happenings in
the fictional town of Cracked Axle “six miles north of the correction line and just west
of the old Johnson place.” In one episode of the continuing saga Hank McGoohan lights
up an Export A cigarette in defiance of the new law banning smoking in public places
when “BLAM,” in crashes the government inspection team including the “baddest of the
bad, a pair of regulation implementation facilitators.”
Although the Cracked Axle stories are not utopia they do have elements in
common with the tradition. For one thing Cracked Axle is an imaginary place. The
Dictionary of Imaginary Places includes many utopias as well as non-utopias and there is
an obvious overlap between the imaginary better place and the imaginary funny place.
But more significant than this is the fact that both Cracked Axle and many utopias are
satirical. That is, they aim to show up the foibles and the corruptions of the real world by
reflecting them in the mirror of an imaginary world. Thomas More does this in Utopia
and Ron Petrie does it in “Cracked Axle.” Hank McGoohan is not merely a comical rural
character but he is “a rangatang, a rebel…a free spirit, a renegade.” He finds himself in
opposition to government regulation in a way parallel to that of John Savage in Brave
New World or Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, although in the key of comedy
rather than the key of tragedy.
Guy Vanderhaeghe’s The Englishman’s Boy (1996) won a Governor General’s
Award for its portrayal of two periods in history. At the centre is the story of Harry
Vincent, a young screen writer from Saskatoon trying to make it in Hollywood in 1923.
He gets hired to investigate a possibility for a new film, which is the life of Shorty
McAdoo. McAdoo in 1923 is an old man but in 1873 he was briefly employed by an
English hunter (hence the Englishman’s boy) and he was involved in the Cypress Hills
Massacre which led to the establishment of the North West Mounted Police.
The utopian theme appears indirectly in that Harry Vincent’s experience could be
described as a de-bunking of utopia. First is the romantic picture of the historical west
which Harry searches for from Shorty: “That old world’s gone. You can bring it back
for us. Raise it up like Lazarus from the dead” (150). However, the reality of the
massacre, including the rape of an Indian girl, was violent and brutal. A second utopian
myth is that of California which has been a magnet for colonists (see Robert Hines’s
California’s Utopian Colonies) and for the popular imagination, from “California Here I
Come” to the utopian hopes for Okies in The Grapes of Wrath, even to the present day:
That is what California is supposed to be. Love, riches, fame, dreams, wild
possibility. Not blackened, ruined buildings, a half-starved old man filling
himself with sickeningly sweet canned fruit, dust chasing dust… (120)
Or, as another character puts it at the beginning of the story: “Some fucking paradise,
this California. Never had so many fucking colds in my life” (8). In the end Harry’s
experience bears out the anti-utopian theme—he moves back to Saskatoon to live alone
and run a movie theatre.
Another example of dreaming utopia to be elsewhere, especially westward, is by
Robert Collins Butter Down The Well (1986) is a memoir of his boyhood at Shamrock,
Saskatchewan, through the 1930’s to 1943. There are many amusing stories of his
parents, school and “recreational” pursuits like hunting gophers. Saskatchewan is
described lovingly, especially in his favorite season of Spring when the “earth was
fragrant with new, green life” (53). But this is no utopian picture, because things could
change suddenly and Saskatchewan, with its fierce winter weather and summer dust
storms, could also be “cruel” (51). The only suggestion of utopia is elsewhere:
We stayed on our farms for private and assorted reasons: we couldn’t
afford to move to The Coast or the Peace River Country (mystic places so distant
and revered that they were pronounced in capital letters); or we were too
stubborn; or we simply loved the elbowroom of Saskatchewan. Space allows a
man to indulge his idiosyncracies, and each of our neighbors contributed a
fragment—a small kindness, a foible observed—to the sum total of a boy’s
growing up. (45)
Saskatchewan poetry includes many allusions to utopianism and associated ideas.
For example, Eden is one of the important themes in Tracy Hamon’s recent collection of
poems (2005) but it is not the paradise usually implied by the word. In ‘Dark Eden’ the
word holds sorrowful promise: ‘your grief is a dark Eden, like plums/tart taste of a seed
that never sees the sun.’ In ‘Laws Of The Wild,’ which provides the volume’s title, the
image of the world as a paradaisal utopia is deconstructed:
This is not Eden.
There is no red fruit.
There are not tomatoes
dropping from lush vines.
Rather than a static world of harmony this is a world of desire: ‘You hunger, this/is
normal…’ It is a world not of fulfillment and completion but a world of struggle and
understand, there is no feast
gathered at the foot of this forest.
You consume what you catch
when you can.
The ideal world exists in a dialectical dance with the always changing reality of nature
and the always changing nature of reality.
Treena Kortje’s Variations of Eve (1999) is a suite of poems telling about Adam,
Eve and Lilith (who according to Jewish legend was really the first woman), and it
reflects the tension at the heart of the Eden story. Life in the garden was beautiful,
harmonious and orderly, and these are some reasons why the story is regarded as a primal
utopia. But life was also limited. Adam and Eve are told in Genesis that they cannot eat
from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They cannot have this knowledge for
then they would become like gods. They disobey; Eve eats first and in Kortje’s version
she lists Adam’s trusting her and taking a bite as a reason to love him. But they are
evicted from this paradise and Eve’s comment to Adam reflects her impatience with the
perfect life:
Walk with me to find
a different shade of green.
In this place we filled ourselves
with as much
citrus and sense
as we could take.
Later she confronts God with failure and take things into account, as in making the apple
“so lovely” and forgetting that she “needed to eat” (94). Thus, one theme in the poems is
the need to get beyond utopia, because to live in utopia requires a certain childlike
acceptance of the official system whatever it may be.
Eli Mandel’s collected poems include explicit and implicit references to the idea
of utopia. The possibility of other worlds of the mind is suggested in “Experience’ in
which a boy dreams “A border land, a strange frontier/With new stars” (445), and there
are allusions to paradise (509), a world of “dreaming beasts with unhurt eyes” (520) and
the Tower of Babel (729). Aldous Huxley’s utopian connection with Saskatchewan is
recalled when Mandel writes in “doors of perception”—“in Huxley’s version time
curves/upon itself/cities of the mescal dream/turned biblical jeweled places/palaces of
John in Revelation” (242). As well as these literary references Mandel writes of the
Jewish colonization experience in Saskatchewan, in a frequently anthologized poem
about the Jewish cemetery near Hirsch (248) or in poems about the Sonnenfeld and
Hoffer colonies (265-66).
However, the strongest references are more dystopian than utopian. In “News
from Nowhere,” which is certainly an allusion to the title of William Morris’s utopian
novel, Mandel satirizes utopia:
I promise not to swear at bus drivers.
I will keep strict measure in my words.
I will think always
of clean teeth,
heroism, universal disease. (137)
In “The President Speaks To the Nation” the President has “plans for/model cities” and
he calls the people to work in the rice fields, rebuild roads and “kill Americans” (217-18).
The dystopian is plainly evoked in “Pictures In An Institution.” The institution is a
university in which “professors are confined to their offices/faculties no longer exist” and
“the library is closed”:
there will be no further communication
lectures are cancelled
all students are expelled
the reading of poetry is declared a public
The prohibition of intellectual activities has been a feature of numerous dictatorial
regimes, and is also a feature of dystopias for the same reasons, for example the
narrowing of language to prevent thought-crime in Nineteen Eighty-Four or the banning
of books and magazines in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Bruce Rice’s poem “In The Heyday of Mental Health” (2003) refers to the heady
days of the 1960’s as a sort of utopia for this profession. “The machinery of the Dark
Age/will lurch to a halt” and a new age will be born:
we will make films and travel the country. Those who lie in their beds like
Lazarus will rise from the Land of Catatonia, walk down the hall and arrive at the
cafeteria in time for lunch. B.F. Skinner will replace voodoo with science.
Psychiatrists will take their own medicine. LSD will be blest.
In this “Heyday of Mental Health, there will be/so much optimism that patients will
think/their doctors are nuts” (19). However in the author’s notes Rice adds that although
most institutional patients were discharged the “community supports did not follow” and
many former patients now “swell the ranks of the homeless” (101).
There is an interesting suggestion of utopian imagery in Anne Szumigalski’s
poem “Jerusalem” (1986). The name resonates in the tradition primarily because of the
description of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelations, as a symbol of reality
transformed at the end of time. The poem alludes to the bible imagery in its opening
words “that city of glass.” The speaker imagines a journey to Jerusalem in the place of
the, perhaps, old person to whom she is talking, and who will never again enter
Jerusalem. She will see the wailing wall. She will see the people “whose names were
once known” to the old one, but the conclusion is an ironic twist on the utopian dream:
or when at last I see them face to face will they turn
quickly away and hurry down a sidestreet while one
explains to the other a new process for adding gold
to the glass of an office building it’s true he admits
that the windows shine rather dully in the sun but
then the people inside never have to pull down the
blinds for in that place there is neither glitter nor
glare but always just enough light to read by (63)
Here is a modern Jerusalem, except it is not a “city of glass” but a modern city of glass
office buildings. There is a kind of perfection—“neither glitter nor/glare”—but the shine
of the windows in the sun is rather dull. This is of course a perennial complaint, that to
achieve utopian conditions would result in a kind of spiritual stagnation.
Many people write poetry which is never published, sometimes just for
amusement and sometimes to express ideas, including the utopian idea of a better world.
This example is by the late Earle Worby of Regina. Worby grew up on a farm near
Sherbrooke, Quebec. He was a navigator in the air force before attending McGill
University for Education. He also studied Accounting and Law at Queen's. He worked
in the estate management and investment field for Royal Trust and Richardsons before
turning his business over to his son. He and his wife Audrey were married 55 years in
2000. The excerpt is from his unpublished poem "My Country":
My country would be governed by men and women elect
And yet each one who rose to seek the challenge would be tested clear
He would have to read a doctorate for all to hear
He would not only have to know a case
And how it would be pleaded
He would have to have an understanding
And an accounting for every item that did proceed…
The law sets out the purpose and the goal
The goal and jail can never be one word
If it is jail for poor man, it is also just for all…
Here is a good example of the widespread longing for a society that is well-governed but
also just in its treatment of all people.
Moving now from literature to painting, a utopian perspective on Saskatchewan in
a global society is given by the painter Betty Meyers. Her series of paintings “People
Pulling Together” was produced between 1992 and 1994 and exhibited at five locations
in Saskatchewan in 1994. It is “a celebration of the Co-operative Spirit of
Saskatchewan”. The paintings include depictions of co-operatives (the Wheat Pool, the
Churchill Greenhouse Co-operative at Moose Jaw, the La Ronge First Nations fisheries
co-operative—which is the title piece of the collection, the Matador Farm Pool, and the
Shoestring Gallery Artists’ Co-op), social and political movements (Medicare,
Solidarity), environmental concerns (Meewasin Valley, Redberry Pelican Project) and a
familiar winter scene of pushing vehicles out of snow called “The Saskatchewan Way”.
Betty Meyers was born at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1938 and emigrated to Canada in
1963, living in Saskatoon, then British Columbia and returning to Saskatchewan in 1986.
I visited her in September 1998 at her home and studio in an older area of Saskatoon.
Why co-operation?
It seemed a logical thing to do. Things are not so hard if you do them together
and share the responsibility. Cooperatives fill an important need. I was also one of the
five artists who organized the Shoestring Gallery in 1971, one of the first artists’ cooperatives in Canada. It’s now the AKA Gallery. I’ve been involved in a number of
other artists’ co-operative projects in Victoria, B. C. A group called Alley Art was
formed to bring art to the people. A group of us also formed an artist co-operative called
Ideas Gallery to express political and spiritual views.
Co-operatives are a way to organize but more important, they develop the feeling
of togetherness and a link to other co-operatives.
What led you into painting co-operative themes?
A number of things. Years ago I had a dream of going to the Arctic, which I did
in 1989 and this was an important influence. Up there I could really see the potential
impact of environmental disasters and I got a much stronger global feeling. I was always
aware of the curvature of the earth. My paintings began to change, to express an
environmental concern. They began incorporating that perspective of looking at a whole,
seeing the curve of the earth. Narrative elements also became important.
I believe co-operation is at the heart of solving many problems and Saskatchewan
has been the home for many projects with the co-operative spirit.
The Matador Farm Co-operative near Kyle, Saskatchewan is an example of an
alternative to the single family farm.
I also believe that we must give this new spirit new energy so it can grow and
spread around the earth. My new painting projects grow out of this concern, and it has
become very important to me to voice my perspective and contribute to this new spirit
through my art. My art series “People Pulling Together”, the co-operative spirit of the
Saskatchewan people, expresses this idea. My work-in-progress series, “Co-operative
action,” depicts events across Canada. It is important that people focus on success
stories to inspire action. This series will be completed by the year 2000.
Do you consider yourself a political artist?
Yes, political in the sense of wanting to get people to take action, co-operating
with others to do things. Saskatchewan has a very strong co-operative tradition, and out
of co-operation comes hope, I believe that positive paintings of co-operation hung
around a room can have a great impact on those who are involved in ongoing struggles
and can foster renewed interaction and dedication. However, I don’t see my art as
partisan. I’d be happy to show my paintings at any political party convention. There is a
lot of negative political art, to show how terrible things are. I consider my work to be
positive political art whose purpose is to call people to focus on the success stories, to
remind them of the possibilities of co-operation.
How would you characterize a utopian society?
I can’t see a society with no conflict. The trick is to be able to communicate and
resolve problems. We must be willing to try new ways, not necessarily formal cooperatives. We have to listen. I’m happy to listen to anyone who wants a caring and just
society. I’m a religious person; I belong to the United Church. The ideal is that the
churches should work together, all religions of the world, but difficulties arise from nitpicking and being so specific that it divides. We need to concentrate on what is similar,
yet celebrate the differences. All should be able to live in dignity and no group be put
 What do you see as significant about “People Pulling Together”?
It’s an attempt to express a basic idea about co-operation, the power of people to
accomplish things together. And not just material things. For example the Churchill
Greenhouse Co-operative in Moose Jaw, which is run by the handicapped, may not be
successful on certain material or economic thermometers, but in people terms it is highly
successful. Or why did Matador survive and flourish? I think there was a sense of
movement toward socialism and Matador was in the forefront of that.
Could you paint with others on a co-operative basis?
This would be really difficult. Other artists have their own directions and images
that come from within. It’s nearly impossible to paint to another person’s ideas. My
current project is paintings of Canadian co-operatives and I thought of trying this with
artists from across the country. But the problems of fundraising and logistics were too
great, not to mention finding artists with like views.
What’s your view of co-operation today?
I think that good things are happening across Canada, but I don’t think that they
have a sense of connection to each other. There is lacking a sense of a movement. In the
30’s there was a real sense of co-operative movement. We need that sense or people
don’t go beyond the economic level. It’s that sense of doing something important with
other people which makes life rich.
What’s next?
I’ve done Saskatchewan co-operatives and now I’m working on the Canadian
series; I think next I’d like to do co-operative efforts internationally. We need cooperation in the Arctic on environmental concerns and I think I’d like to visit
Antarctica—the only co-operative continent.
There is substantial scholarships on the connections between utopianism and
architecture. The University of Regina’s “utopianist” architecture of the 1960s is noted
above. Another Saskatchewan example, also associated with education is the Tower of
God at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox. Père Athol Murray’s vision
for Notre Dame College at Wilcox was a noble one, and he expressed it eloquently. He
had a broad appreciation of the development of human civilization and this was reflected
in the school. For example, the Notre Dame emphasis on sports was not for its own sake
only, nor only for winning, but because Père Murray believed in the ancient Greek ideal
of a healthy mind in a healthy body. Père Murray cared passionately about people, yet
was also a lifelong advocate of individual enterprise within a free-market system and a
vociferous opponent of socialism (122). Each May 24th he sponsored an “International
Day” to foster good relations between the United States and Canada (101).
The ideal of tolerance is most clearly reflected in Père Murray’s ecumenism, from
his championing of Protestant boys in the 1920s, to the religiously mixed staff of Notre
Dame (111), to the “Tower of God” completed in 1961. This “structure of stone and
brick, with belfry and stained glass windows, built around an altar to one God” is to
represent that “the God worshipped by the Moslems, Hebrews and Christians is one and
the same God.” Murray recalled that the “people in Wilcox were astounded and thought I
was a bit cracked when I said I was creating a tower...” (114). The American moon
landing in 1969 inspired Père to have a set of bronze doors made for St. Augustine’s
Chapel (beside the tower) to depict the evolution of science and religion in parallel rather
than opposed to each other (117-18).
Not long before he died, Père Murray delivered the Convocation address at the
University of Alberta, in which he rejected materialism and, with “all the vigour at [his]
command” asserted that “the key to the universe, to the existence of the universe, is mind,
mind that is human, mind that is divine” (145). It was this belief, and belief in one Spirit
for all people, which sustained the hopes and dreams of this religious utopian of the
prairie. Today the school is called Athol Murray College of Notre Dame.
The interests and the influence of Saskatchewan people do not stop at the borders
of the province, but extend into national and global communities. Participation in
development and Service Organizations is regarded by some as utopian, because of the
goal is understood to be a transformed world. Others would disagree, seeing the goal only
as helping to alleviate suffering. One such organization is UNICEF. UNICEF
Saskatchewan (now Prairie Region) began in the 1960s as a provincial Canadian branch
of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Its volunteers were
involved in education and fundraising to support UNICEF’s international development
work in countries around the world. It is clear from the annual State of the World’s
Children report that UNICEF is an organization whose purpose is to dramatically
improve the world. The same may be said about many other development organizations
whose volunteers work at the local and provincial level toward goals such as the
eradication of poverty and disease and, positively, toward creating more opportunity for
brighter futures for children and their families. These include Save The Children Canada,
the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and many others. The
Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC) is an umbrella organization
of international development groups in the province. At the local level there are many
organizations which seek to build an improved community, including the Regina Food
Bank, the Salvation Army and the children’s lunch program Chili for Children.
In the commercial sector, there is an allusion to the utopian “Land of Cockaigne”
in the "golden arches" of McDonaldland, where there is an abundance of good things to
eat and drink and plenty of McFun with the happy clown Ronald McDonald. But the
Ronald McDonald houses, which help families with children in hospital, extend the
Cockaigne fantasy into the realm of social responsibility. There is a Ronald McDonald
House in Saskatoon. As with development organizations, some will see businesses which
give back to the community as working for a transformed world, while others will see a
more limited objective of improving individual situations.
A sector often regarded as utopian is the alternative health and wellness scene.
WHOLifE magazine is the “wholeness and wellness journal of Saskatchewan”. Devoted
to alternative health ideas and practises, a typical issue includes articles on herbs,
acupuncture, reflexology and other topics, along with directories and advertisements
about the alternative health scene in Saskatchewan. Such ideas are a staple of utopian
literature. The magazine’s statement of purpose describes it as a “connecting link among
all those who have a common goal of good health and well being”, and asserts that “the
mind is unlimited in its potential”, suggesting the outlines of a new society of healthy,
natural living. WHOLifE is published in Saskatoon by Melva Armstrong.
Melva Armstrong was born in Balcarres. Her father was a grain buyer and the
family lived in Lebret, Lemberg, and Rosetown, before moving to Saskatoon when she
was eight. She completed school in Saskatoon and two years of university for a Standard
A Teaching Certificate, and then decided to see the world. She travelled to New Zealand
in 1969 and spent three years there and in Australia before moving to London, England.
In London she worked for J&B Scotch and as a temp clerk-typist for many other firms.
London was also special because it was here she came out as a lesbian. She met a
woman in London who had also lived in Australia and they moved to Canada together in
1974. When Armstrong was working for the federal government she suffered a nervous
breakdown. It was at this point that the spiritual side of her life became important, the
relinquishing of control to something beyond herself that was guiding her journey. She
did three years of Transactional Analysis Therapy and from that point has never looked
back. Along the way she studied jazz guitar in Edmonton (Diploma of Music) and
Creative Writing at York University (BFA Honours), and has worked as a substitute
Tell me about your spiritual development.
When I thought my mother was going to die I had a life-changing moment in
which I questioned the meaning of our existence. I found a book by Gerald Jampolsky
called Love is Letting Go Of Fear, which talked about A Course In Miracles. I was
living in Edmonton and when I saw the Jampolsky book I said to myself "Melva, you don't
need another book. You have enough self-help books." But all that night it haunted me
so I rushed and bought it the next day. As a result I sought out A Course In Miracles.
One could say it is related to the New Age movement in that its basic idea is to change
your thinking and thereby change your life. This book has been my saving grace,
although of course there is no end point, we keep learning and evolving. I now belong to
a small group of five or six people and we meet weekly to read the Course material. It
really is one of the sacred texts of the world; it is Jesus talking, bringing his same
message from 2000 years ago to us today.
How did WHOLifE Journal start?
In the year both my parents died (1995) I got the inspiration to do WHOLifE
Journal. I knew about similar magazines in Edmonton and Toronto and I began to think
about doing a similar kind in Saskatchewan. My friends Brian and Mike (Graphic
Designers) said they could put it together for me. (It seems like whenever you need help,
help is there, when you're on the right path.) I did market research to determine if
advertisers would be interested in such a publication and the response was very positive.
From the beginning the magazine paid for itself, although I live very frugally and below
the poverty line for sure. Now it's been twenty-seven issues and no end in sight. I
wonder where it's going but I feel as though I'm here to do God's work and I have faith.
The real bottom line is that if you do things to care for other people you will be looked
after. It's not about how much money you earn but about being a gift to the world. And
trying not to have fear, and to live with a positive attitude all the time.
Is the alternative health field growing in Saskatchewan?
Yes, it is changing and growing, although Saskatchewan is somewhat behind
other parts of the country. But more and more people are looking for alternatives to the
traditional medical system. The ideal is for the alternative practitioners to work together
with the conventional medical system. Progress is always very slow. But last night, for
instance, Dr. Roby Mitchell from Amarillo, Texas, spoke to over five hundred women
about women's bodies regarding menopause and PMS. He suggested that our
conventional medical system must be missing something for there to be such a large
degree of interest in alternatives.
What are the elements of alternative health?
Although exercise and good nutrition are essential elements I think there needs to
be a spiritual element too—body, mind and spirit working together. It is an exploration,
and these days it is often women who are leading and helping men to grow. We all want
change but we're afraid of it and thus we take only baby steps. Once we say we're ready
to change, to give our lives to God, it happens. It is a choice and we can move faster or
slower. We often want things to be neat and tidy but growth is messy, sometimes violent.
For example, a little seed that comes pushing up through the earth is a violent action but
the action is what has to happen for the seed to become a beautiful flower or a
nourishing vegetable. I'm growing myself, and becoming more of a leader, because I see
myself as breaking ground in some ways.
Does this field of wholistic health have a political component? Is there any sense
in which practitioners might see themselves as utopians, working toward a
changed society?
I know that I am connected to everyone else. We are one, and when I heal myself
it is also a healing force to every living thing. But I think most of us here on earth are in
the equivalent of kindergarten in terms of evolving consciousness, and I suspect most
people are just dealing with their bodies and minds and trying to be healthier, rather
than having a political goal in mind. WHOLifE is a body/mind/spirit journal and
through it we would like to see a wider consciousness evolve and work towards a
changed society. There are different types of people in the movement. For example,
many health-conscious people who are looking exclusively for diet supplements and are
not interested in such things as healing touch, or spiritual insights. Overall, I believe
most of the practitioners see themselves as working toward a changed society.
The cultural significance of utopian dreaming is hinted at by use of the word
utopia, or words which suggest alternate and better worlds, for advertising and naming.
For example, Utopia Bar and Café was a temporary name for the Rouleau Hotel during
filming of "Guitarman", a made-for-TV movie featuring Regina guitarist Jack Semple
whose character "drives the locusts out of the town and saves the future for the town's
children." In fact, many commercial businesses draw upon the imagery of the utopian
According to Henderson’s Directory there was a Utopia Café at 1843 Scarth St. in
Regina in 1911, prop. the Guest Catering Company. It re-opened in the same location
(the old Leader block) under new management in 1912 (advertised in the Leader for 2
November 1912). The Utopia Cafe is not listed in Henderson’s for 1913 (although the
Utopia Barber Shop at 1804 Hamilton makes a one year appearance), nor through the war
until 1928. In that year the Utopia Tea Rooms are listed at 3018 Dewdney, but it
disappears again for two years, then re-opens under the proprietorship of Mike Lutek in
1931. The business transferred to Paul Rollack in 1945, to George Pantel in 1956, and
was taken over by Roger Ing in 1970. Ing renamed it the New Utopia Restaurant.
Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery in September 1998. When he retired from the restaurant
business in 1993 it reincarnated briefly under new ownership as the Utopia Rock Hard
Café, closed again by 1998 and re-opened for awhile as the Utopia Café - a First Nations
Stephen Hall, the producer of the television series “Utopia Café”, was inspired by
Roger Ing’s work. In fact, Hall bought the name and the restaurant’s sign for his show, a
magazine format “videotronic collage”. The utopia of the program’s title is an imaginary
place in which perfection is defined as diversity. A typical program for the first season
includes profiles of a young woman training to be a boxer, a young man wondering about
becoming a priest, segments about relationships, bungee jumping, peeves, a French man
living in Moscow, review of an exercise video, and “Tania Talk”, a regular segment in
which Tania Hlohovsky comments upon various topics—in this case what edible
underwear tastes like. Seemingly unrelated, the segments suggest “letting go” in order to
make the world a utopia of diversity, letting go of traditional role definitions, prejudices,
and stereotypes, about nationality for example, sexual inhibitions, pretensions, and to be
able to laugh at ourselves. The bungee-jumping suggests the risk involved in letting go.
The program was jointly produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and
Heartland Motion Pictures of Regina. A second season of ten episodes premiered in
January of 1996.
The names of various Saskatchewan places reflect the utopian theme. For
example, Halcyonia was the name chosen for a new school district north of Borden in
1905. It derives from Greek mythology and means "place of peace." Utopia School
District was formed on May 22, 1922, at a meeting of ratepayers in the home of W. A.
Anderson, and the one room school was built on two acres of Anderson’s land East of the
town of Briercrest. The school was destroyed by fire in 1934, rebuilt and operated until
1943 when it was moved to Baildon, where it is now a residence. There are also various
utopian synonyms, including such names as Edenwold, Paradise Hill, Happy Valley and
Happyland. One account of the village of Welwyn near the Manitoba border,
incorporated in 1907, suggests that it was named by early settler J. Wake for Welwyn
Garden City in Herefordshire, England; another account says the town was called after a
pioneer by the name of Welwyn.
The literature and art of Saskatchewan’s First Nations people reflects some
elements of utopianism. However, there was a profound change for Indian people from
their former life of freedom on the open prairies to the challenge of belonging to the new
European type of culture established by the white settlers. A poem by Beth Cuthand,
“Four Songs for the Fifth Generation” (1989), traces the mythological roots of the
utopian tradition in the idea of a Golden Age of harmony with nature, a characteristic
which certain European explorers like Vespucci found among the aboriginals of North
America. Cuthand’s poem, which presents four generations of Indian life, begins with a
version of this myth as she describes the life of the plains Indians before white
“They [the buffalo] were our life the life
of the prairies
We loved them
And they loved us
To describe this as a myth is certainly not to suggest that it may not be true, as indeed
some interpreters of Amerindian history suggest: “Amerindians…were aware of the laws
of movement and periodically changed the sites of their villages, mainly to allow Nature
to ‘remake itself’ and to plan ecological zones where their wild ‘cattle’ could find
abundant pastureland” (Sioui 75).
Cuthand’s poem provides a vignette of 1930’s in which Indian people bring food
to a starving white man, it deals with the 1960’s when aboriginal people finally “got the
vote” and it poses the dilemma for today of separation versus integration:
I don’t want to go
to a white high school
My spirit would die
in a place like that
I love our little school
us Indians
we help each other.
We care.
We share smokes Mom.
When I grow up
will my kids
have to fight
for a place in the neighbourhood
The speaker wants to cherish Indian culture and community but also to be an accepted
member of the broader community.
In the Afterword to her collection Bear Bones and Feathers (1994) Louise Halfe
includes a few lines which reflect the utopian impulse in its guise of the longing for
harmony with nature: “During our courting days, my husband and I would strip in the
spring April heat, bask in the sun and plunge in the glacial Whiterabbit River on
Kootenay Plains. The strength of the water replenishes and destroys, the calling of the
creek and my return are a natural process” (126). The idea of a happy, loving
relationship in a beautiful natural setting is one way to describe Eden before the fall and
is a motif in many utopian imaginings. Yet a large part of this collection emphasizes the
opposite reality—how the traditional life of the people was destroyed by the arrival of
white settlement, bringing diseases, suffering and the alienation of reserves and
residential schools. “I have been asked many times, wasn’t residential school better than
the fires that raged at home? I don’t find that a fair question” (“Returning” 105). It is not
a fair question because the settlement created an almost impossible cultural knot for
many First Nations people, in that to become good citizens they had to deny the goodness
in their own ways. Poems in this collection document some of the terrible results so it is
not utopian by any means; yet the idea of a more harmonious world appears here and
there like a ghost behind the text:
dawn has come
already the birds sing
and the earth
delights with life.
(“Ditch Bitch” 51)
An interesting reflection of the different perspectives of the white settlers and the First
Nations people is a contrast between two pieces of street art. One of these is the mural
on the Moose Jaw Police Station (1991 by Grant McLaughlin), which is a representation
of pioneer “Hopes and Dreams”, a latter day recollection of the “immigration utopia” of
the settlement era. The other is the large mural at 1517-11th Avenue in Regina which
shows a jagged slash of lightning separating a dark world of vandalized buildings from an
inviting world of beautiful streets and buildings under a rainbow sky. A First Nations
youth is stepping from the dark world into the light, telling of the children's desire "to
pursue lives of happiness and health." The sign "Free Everything" has overtones of the
Cockaigne fantasy but clearly suggests the idea of liberation.
A wall mural which might be called interior street art is located at the Albert Scott
Community Centre in Regina. The mural was painted by young people associated with
Chili For Children, a lunch program begun by Theresa Stevenson which has won
awards for its work in the North Central area of Regina. It is an idealized picture of a
neighbourhood which is often portrayed negatively in the media for substance abused,
criminal activity and violence, with houses in a park-like or garden setting rather than
amidst asphalt and concrete. Behind the house on the left there is a tiny section of fence,
but it does not separate the houses and thus is a reminder that this a ‘utopian’ version
rather than a real-world version with fences along property lines. The baby in the hands
of the adult suggests the passing of generations and the coming of new life. I was told by
Dellia Pelletier and other staff at Chili For Children that the four segments of the circles
represent harmony of the red, yellow, white and black races, which is also a utopian ideal.
The text is as follows:
These are things I like
about my neighbourhood
I like the Snowy hills
and the Mailman
and the stores and parks
What do I like about my
I like the dogs and cats
and the parents brats
and the fresh air out there
what do I like about my
I like the trees outside
and the cars that ride
and the fresh air
out there
That’s what I like
about my neighbourhood.
An interesting effort towards cultural reclamation is the Piapot First Nations
Village, located at the Piapot First Nation 60 km north of Regina. The re-creation at
Piapot of a traditional First Nations Village offers dancing, drumming, storytelling,
buffalo meat and bannock meals, sweatlodges, sweetgrass and pipe ceremonies, sleeping
in teepees and instruction in “Indian culture, spirituality and natural medicines”. It was
established in 1992 by Ray Lavallee, and visited by local and international tourists.
When I visited several years ago Ray Lavallee gave me a tour of the site, including a shed
containing many jars of samples of native herbs and berries for medicinal purposes. He
told me that the First Nations Village is temporary, reflecting the nomadic life of the
plains Indians. When the teepees are erected the village is there, but when they are down
what is there is a grassy space. When I spoke to him in 2006 Ray Lavalee noted that
tourists come to the teepee village from as far away as Germany.
Appendix I Harmony Industrial Association-Excerpts from The
“Prospectus” and “Constitution”
Section 1 – Feeling that the present competitive social system is one of injustice
and fraud and directly opposed to the precepts laid down by [“Our Saviour”] for the
guidance of mankind in subduing all the forces of nature and the evils springing from
selfishness in the human heart, we do write under the name of the “Harmony Industrial
Association” for the purpose of acquiring land to build homes for its members, to
produce from nature sufficient to insure its members against want or the fear of want.
To own and operate factories, mills, stores, etc. To provide educational and
recreative facilities of the highest order and to promote and maintain harmonious social
relations on the basis of co-operation, for the benefit of its members and mankind in
ARTICLE III: Officers, their election and duties.
Section 1: The officers of this Association shall be a President, a Vice-President,
a Secretary and a Treasurer (both offices of Secretary and Treasurer may be held by the
same person), a Board of Directors consisting of thirteen members elected by a majority
vote of all members present [and] voting for a term no longer than [one] year and subject
to conditions in Section 5, Article 3, of these by-laws; and Superintendents of the
following departments...
Section 1: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Finance shall be
such as are defined as the duties of the Treasurer.
Section 2: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Public Works
shall be to have charge of the erection of all the Association [buildings] of whatsoever
kind or description and the proper [maintenance] thereof, and the grading, paving, etc. of
the Association’s streets, alleys, and other public works.
Section 3: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Manufacture
shall be to have the general supervision of the manufactories of the Association.
Section 4: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Agriculture
shall be to have charge of the farming and stockraising operations of the Association,
care for forestry, lawns, gardens, boulevards and parks.
Section 5: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Distribution
shall be to have charge of the distribution of food, clothing and manufactured goods of all
Section 6: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Sanitation shall
be to exercise a general oversight of the healthful condition of the homes of members,
factories and other buildings belonging to the Association, to give instruction in the laws
of hygiene and furnish medical treatment and medicine to members and their families
without personal charge.
Section 7: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Education and
Recreation shall be to have general supervision of the educational facilities of the
Association, provide instruction and elevating entertainments and in general devote his
energies to the moral, mental and physical well being of the members and their children.
Section 8: The duties of the Superintendent of the Department of Cuisine shall be
to have general charge and supervision of all hotels, restaurants, co-operative kitchens,
ARTICLE V: General.
Section 1: Each member of the Association shall be guaranteed employment
whenever possible and in that branch of service which he prefers, subject however to
conditions hereinafter provided.
Section 2: A day’s labour shall consist of not more than 10 hours or such number
under 10, as the Board [of] Directors may determine.
Section 3: All members of the Association shall receive the same compensation
for each day’s labour performed or a proportional amount for each fractional part thereof.
Section 4: All orders of Foremen and Superintendents must at all times be
Section 5: The Foremen of each department shall keep the working time of
employees and report same weekly to the Secretary.
Section 6: Every member of the Association shall surrender his natural freedom,
which leads him to disregard the rights of others, for the sake of civil or social freedom,
which being based upon the principles of right and justice, has regard for his rights and
the rights of all.
Section 7: The Association shall in no way interfere with the free exercise of
individual tastes, desires and preferences in all social, religious and domestic affairs.
Section 8: The Association shall furnish all teachers, books, apparatus and
necessary appliances for the most thorough instructions of the children of the members in
such lines as they show most aptitude.
Section 9: The Association may fix a monthly rate of maintenance on residences
based upon the actual cost of construction.
Section 10: The Association shall be entitled to all benefits to be derived from
things produced, discovered or invented by any of its members, provided said
Association renders such support, aid and assistance desired and necessary to its
construction and development.
Section 11: A man’s endowments fix the measure of his duty, and [an] employee
of great endowments, who does not do all he might, shall be considered a less deserving
workman than the employee of small endowments who does his best.
Section 12: The question of special [incentives] to call out the best endeavours of
employees being one of great importance, the Board of Directors shall devise a system of
preferment, and the system which shall be subject to the approval of all the members by a
majority of the members present and voting, shall be such as will best promote the
interests of the Commonwealth.
Section 13: No member shall vote for himself for any office, and for any member
to ask another to vote for him shall be evidence sufficient to show that he is unworthy of
public trust.
Section 14: Each member is entitled to use an occupancy of a residence lot.
Section 15: All employees under 18 years of age shall be classed as apprentices
and their compensation shall be determined by the Board of Directors.
Section 16: Each child shall receive a graduated sum per year until 18 years of
age, the amount to be determined by the Board of Directors.
Section 17: Every member shall furnish the Secretary with a list of members of
his family.
Section 18: The school age of the children of members shall be 18 years.
Section 19: No member of the Association shall be permitted to allow his
children to grow up in ignorance.
Section 20: There shall be kept in the office of the Secretary a register in which
the names, age and sex of each [member of each] family shall be recorded.
Section 21: No official of the Association nor the Association in its organized
capacity shall loan the Association’s funds.
Section 22: Whenever a member of this Association fails to comply with the bylaws of this Association or fails to perform any of the duties or discharge any of the
obligations imposed on him or her as a member of this Association, he or she shall
thereby subject himself or herself to the penalty of suspension from the Association.
When a member is suspended he or she shall be dropped from the payroll and shall, for
the time of suspension, be entitled to none of the privileges and benefits of the
Association. When in the opinion of five members of this Association a member has
made himself or herself liable to suspension under the laws of this Association, said five
members shall prefer charges and specifications of offence or violation of duty by said
These charges shall set out the acts or doings of said member and wherein it is
claimed these acts and doings are a violation of the by-laws of the Association.
These charges and specifications shall be in writing and filed with the Secretary
of the Association, who shall make a copy thereof and deliver it to the member charged,
and notify him or her to appear at a time fixed not less than five days after notice—before
a called meeting of this Association to try said member on said charges and
specifications. Said meeting shall hear the proof on both sides and investigate the
charges and specifications, and then vote by ballot upon the charges as a whole.
The question voted on shall be “innocent” or “guilty”. If a majority of the
members present vote said member is “guilty” then the President shall submit to a vote of
the meeting the question of “for what time suspended”? and the time of suspension
having been determined by a majority vote of the members present at said meeting, the
President shall declare the offender suspended from the pay roll and all privileges of the
Association for a time determined by the meeting and the [same] shall be done.
Section 23: The stockholders shall in the first week in January and the first week
in July elect a Board of Examiners whose duty it shall be to decide upon the
qualifications and fitness of applicants for shares of stock. Such Board shall immediately
after organize by the election of its Chairman and Secretary, [and] formulate a standard
of examination. Such Board of Examiners shall serve six months and report its findings
in every case to a meeting of the stockholders.
Section 24: No debts shall be contracted for the Association by any officer in
excess of cash on hand.
Section 25: A majority of the Board of Directors shall constitute a quorum for the
transaction of business.
Section 26: Any rules and regulations in any way conflicting with these by-laws
shall be considered null and void.
Section 27: No member shall be allowed to disclose any of the business affairs of
the Association to parties not members.
Section 28: It shall be the duty of any member to abide by any motion carried at a
regular meeting of the Association or Board of Directors and in case of refusal he shall
subject himself to the penalties provided for an infraction of the by-laws.
Section 29: These by-laws may be altered or amended at any regular meeting of
the members by a two-thirds vote of all members present and voting, provided such
alterations or amendment has been presented in writing two weeks previous to the time of
such meeting.
Appendix II Mawson Plan Unpublished Text-Excerpt
To predict the ultimate growth and final features of a City in a continent of such
surprising civic development as America is difficult, perhaps impossible. In a new
country of vast potentiality whose resources can only have been as yet cursorily surveyed
there is always a chance that some great discovery may produce conditions entailing
chances at present unimaginable.
This being so, we, whilst judging that the City is likely to reach a population of
120,000, have thought it wisest so to shape our plans that, should the limits of the city as
so estimated be exceeded, they can be applied to a greatly extended area...
We will first examine four factors which at present govern the growth of Regina
and so demand special attention in any scheme for development:
1. It is the centre of the Government for the Province;
2. It is the market for a wide district;
3. It is a manufacturing centre;
4. It is a centre for railways.
As a Governmental centre it is bound to have a resident population largely
occupied in work of the legislative and departmental kind, with a smaller body of people
concerned in questions or matters associated therewith. Such will naturally group
themselves near the Parliament Buildings. It is not probable that this section will
undergo notable change, but we may reasonably expect that there will be a steady
increase, keeping pace with the growing prosperity and development of Saskatchewan.
As a Market centre, the City’s prosperity, of course, will depend to a great extent
upon the proper development of an arterial road system driven well out into the
surrounding country. It must be possible for motor transport to tap with ease the
resources of a large area of farm lands and in return supply these farms with goods.
There can be no doubt, following economic laws, that many of the farms near the city
will adopt market gardening and other forms of intensive farming, especially those
protected by the plantation belts as these begin to reach maturity. Naturally the amount
of land devoted to these methods of agriculture at any particular period of development
will depend to a great extent on the growth of the manufacturing portion of the city; a
town which booms as an industrial centre growing much faster than any other type of
It is when we look at Regina as a manufacturing centre that we come up against
the real difficulties in trying to estimate the ultimate growth of the city. In older
countries the question is simplified, for there geological maps give one an idea of the
resources at hand and comparisons can be made with neighbouring towns, with the result
that fairly safe deductions can be drawn; but in a new country, with resources mainly as
yet untapped, the problem assumes a more formidable shape and the Expert feels less
confident about his predictions.
So far we have seen no signs that point to a phenomenal rate of growth by this
side of the city’s activities. It seems to us that there will be a healthy, sound
development, keeping pace with the development of the other two aspects already
considered, and so making for that balance between manufactures and the more strictly
intellectual side of life which usually characterizes a capital city. That is, we judge that
although Regina has made and will continue to make splendid progress as an industrial
and commercial centre, its function as a capital city will always create a need for goodclass residential property in larger proportion to artisans’ dwellings than is to be found in
a town given up wholly to manufactures and business and will thus help to keep a balance
between the material and aesthetic side of civic life that will prevent the utilitarian
aspects striking too dominant a note. This, of course, increases the chances of making
Regina an outstanding example of “the City Beautiful”.
In the development of manufacturing and other business activities Regina,
happily, already enjoys the assistance of the presence of the three great Canadian
railways, which make it a splendid collecting and distributing centre. This should be an
enormous help in stimulating the industrial and commercial development of the city...
The principal interests of a capital city are usually governmental, financial and
social. It is for this reason that whilst providing adequately for the manufacturing and
business interests, our greatest effort has been to provide those social amenities, already
in progress to an amazing degree, which will attract and retain the intellect, culture and
wealth of the Province. But, in point of fact, there are few modern cities in which so
many interests are centered or where such ample accommodation and opportunity exist
for their expansion. Even before commencing the plan, we found each specific interest of
the city had, to a certain extent, defined its fit location.
Fortunately each interest, whether by design or accident, has located itself
approximately in the position where its function can be best exercised—the governmental
buildings to the south where ample space permits of a stately composition surrounded
with a high-class residential area; the university and the colleges for secondary education
near the governmental centre; the factories to the north where they are in close relation to
the railway tracks and spurs, and where their smoke and fumes will be carried away from
the city by the prevailing winds—the industrial and residential area near the factories –
while the factories encircle the great potential commercial centre.
The problem which we have endeavoured to solve for you is how to take all these
differing but necessary component parts of your city and so merge and weld them
together that every part shall have its proper connection with every other part and no
violent contrasts be visible...
It would be impossible to conclude this chapter without reference to the Park
system. As a capital city, Regina, as we have noted, will undoubtedly be the most
important residential city in the Province; so it is absolutely essential that she should so
beautify herself that no other city will be able to question any claim upon her part to be
accepted as the most desirable residential city in Saskatchewan. Apply to your City the
teaching of the old Greek proverb, “To make your city loved, you must make it lovely”.
If you, so applying it, work hard, keeping this end in view, Regina will indeed, become
with the maturing of the park system, the Garden City of the Prairies...
The first objection to the grid-iron system is that it ignores the individuality of the
site and makes each city as much like its neighbours as possible: it does not attempt to
seize hold of the little intricacies of the site in order to produce an effect which will make
the city a little different from all other cities. It produces only the “City of magnificent
distances”; whereas, if the street vistas were closed in here and there, beautiful street
pictures would be produced and the city would be brought down to a more human scale.
But its worst defect is its treatment of the traffic problem; it fails entirely to provide
properly for two of the most important movements of traffic, namely, radial and gyratory.
If, for instance, we wish to travel one mile in a diagonal direction from the centre of the
city, we have to add another two-fifths of a mile to our journey by travelling along two
sides of a right-angled triangle, instead of being able to make the shorter journey along its
In the Revised Street System which we suggest for your City, we have kept all
these points in mind. The introduction of diagonal routes has been accompanied at
various points together with the provision of sites for important buildings and monuments
which will close the street vista and at the same time break the draughtiness in winter. In
summer, the town gardens and parks provided at many of these terminals will give a
welcome relief to the eye...
If Regina had been planned from the start, the ideal arrangement would have been
for the various railway systems to have been brought together at some point outside the
city and then run through it as one system with a Union Station and combined goods
distributing centres. Unfortunately it is too late in the day for this, but it is some
consolation to know that two of the lines have joined forces in a Union Station and so
reduced the number of points of entry and exit by rail...
We are thus faced, even in these outer areas, with a series of facts, not a few ugly,
which are not easily assimilated. Luckily the skilful planner can often cause them to
yield most desirable results. He is helped initially by the natural gravitation of the
smaller shops and stores about the end of all radiating avenues, or at points where these
avenues change their direction or split into two or more branches, usually grouped round
an open space or a large building standing in the middle of a circus such as will be found
at various points on our plan.
The planner must see that these desirable and interesting developments grow in a
way which ornaments rather than disfigures the neighbourhood. This can best be
accomplished by arranging some sort of uniformity in the facades of the shops. Not only
will the main facades of the buildings require some sort of general adjustment to the scale
of the scheme as a whole, but also the alignment of the shop fronts and especially their
show boards and signs...
A city with a centre badly conceived and dismembered is like a man suffering
from heart trouble. Such a man may be physically perfect in every other respect but this
one defect will render it impossible for him to use his strength to the fullest advantage. In
the same way a city may have beautiful features and well-designed suburbs but if the
heart centre is wrongly planned its advantages and attractiveness are substantially
discounted: there will arise sooner or later a state of congestion preventing the traffic
which is the life’s blood of the civic body from reaching its destination as regularly and
easily as a proper state of civic health demands.
It is the height of wisdom for the city to call in a civic doctor before things have
reached this pass, for thereby it escapes from the longer and more costly treatment which
would otherwise become necessary later, besides being saved much less…and
inconvenience through traffic delays, accidents, and absence of efficiency, all of which
can be expressed in terms of dollars and cents...
At present the view of the Houses of Parliament as seen along Smith Street is the
nearest approach to a properly closed vista to be found in Regina. But the gap between
the city end of the street and this building is too great. The street picture is not properly
framed, the proper effect being lost through the liability of the eye to wander too much
over the open middle distance, instead of being focused on the climax of the vista...
In order to remedy this defect and, at the same time, bring about a harmonious
relation between the civic and provincial government buildings, we have suggested the
formation of a Civic Centre on the axis of Smith Street, between 16th Avenue and the
Lake. We suggest this site for the New City Hall and Law Courts. Besides framing in
the view of the Parliament Building, the Hall and Courts would be well placed for
performing their civic functions, while they would unmistakably add to the dignity of 16th
We have now arrived not only at the last but the most important section of our
Report which covers the grounds included in our first commission.
We have left it to the end because it is the chain which binds the City into one
unified system and combines together all the features mentioned in the earlier chapters.
It is this Park System which we hope will raise Regina from its present treeless condition
and so adorn it with sylvan beauty that it will become the Garden City of the Prairies, a
worthy Capital of a great Province...
It is not too much to affirm that the greatest drawback from which Regina has had
to suffer in the past has been the practically unvarying monotony of the Prairie on which
it stands—monotony in which the comparative lack of variations in the contours of the
land is emphasized and heightened by the lack of that relief which the presence of
plantations of trees would afford.
You can do nothing to remedy the lack of hills and valleys, but the relief given by
trees can be obtained if you will follow up the excellent spade work already done, by a
determined effort to remove forever the reproach of treelessness for Regina.
So vast will be the difference which will come over the aspect of your City and its
environs if our proposals are carried out and Regina is surrounded by woodlands,
especially when the eastern and western plantations are linked together by the Wascana
Parkway, that only the imagination of a great poet or a great artist can conceive it and its
potentialities in their fullness.
It may not be possible to accomplish at once all in the way of plantings that we
have shown on our drawings, but a start can be made in the most obvious positions.
Once that start has been made, we are quite sure that as the years go on and the new
plantations begin to attain to a size which makes it possible to gauge the ultimate result, a
rising tide of public enthusiasm for the creation of such areas will sweep past our present
proposals and urgently demand the doing of planting far in excess of what we now
Our plan further discloses a delightful idea. Besides planting the margins of the
lake we would by continuing the treatment along the creek at both ends of the lake, create
a Parkway through the heart of the City, connected at both ends with the outer plantation
During the harsher seasons of course there will be an absence of flowing water in
this creek, but in the early summer it will be an undeniable refreshment, while at all times
the banks, by their variety of contour, will provide examples of fine landscape gardening,
for there will always be, without doubt, sufficient moisture in the bottom of the hollow
along which the creek runs to make gardening very much easier than it could be
anywhere else in the city. In addition to this the banks will provide splendid shelter for
masses of planting.
In fact, you have here the opportunity for the creation of a beauty spot of a most
exceptional nature which will lift Regina still further above the level of prairie towns—in
short, an opportunity which it would be the height of folly to neglect...
As trustees of your city you must never forget the utilitarian value of beauty when
it comes to the question: “In what city shall we place our new factories?” Regina’s sites,
roads, and railway facilities can satisfy every reasonable demand. Regina, however, can
offer more than this: it is in her power to create for herself a reputation for beauty which
not only entices people to live within her borders but makes her name an advertisement
for her industries. Thus your City’s prosperity should be assured. In our plans, as you
may observe, we have considered this utilitarian aspect of beautification in a very
practical way...
Turning again to the Wascana Parkway, we would draw your attention to a large
scale detail of the lay-out round the Lake to the east and south of the Government
property covered by our previous scheme. This plan is more or less self-explanatory, and
it is perhaps only necessary to add that where ferries are shown crossing the Lake, it may
be possible or even necessary to substitute bridges at some future date, when the city has
grown far beyond its present size. For the present, however, ferries of an ornamental
nature will be far more suitable and will tone better with the park-like character of this
portion of the city, as well as be more economical...
In conclusion: we desire to point out that we have had great difficulty in making
the various blue prints supplied to us agree with one another. As the Canadian Pacific
Railway plan appeared to be the most correct, we have taken it as our basis and fitted in
the extra matter as well as possible...
Such are the main details of our suggestions, which those who wish to examine
the scheme thoroughly may supplement for themselves by a careful study of the points
more minutely revealed on the plans accompanying this Report.
We leave with you both the Plans and the Report with the confidence that they
will obtain your most careful and sympathetic consideration.
While Regina is the capital of a huge area powerful in fertility and vastness of
potentiality in other directions, its position does not contribute with equal bountifulness
to the further grace of beauty and refreshing attractiveness of situation and
embellishment. We venture to express the belief that by our plans we have in a large
degree extinguished this natural defect and supplanted it by creations which will greatly
enhance the health and add to the enjoyment of the inhabitants and at the same time give
to the City an outstanding place among the cities of your great Dominion.
It is difficult to over-estimate the possibilities of development in your Province.
But if there be one prospect upon this Globe more assured than another it is that within
the next few centuries Canada will take rank as a Giant Country nobly filled and rich in
all desirable things beyond the dreams of the most vivid imagination—in short a leader
among the world’s most famous and influential Nations. Saskatchewan cannot but loom
large in such an association, and Regina must be equal to its status—in fact, it cannot
afford to be left behind.
Remembering its comparative proximity to the United States was well as its
fascinating stretch of territory to the North and the character of the Provinces which
constitute its domestic environment, it will surely be safe to incur unbounded liability in
order to lay in the infant present the foundation stones of an uncommonly lusty manhood.
We pray fervently that our view as to the glorious future lying before your City of
the Prairies may fire you with determination to go ahead without delay with the remodeling herein indicated, so that even within the next two or three decades those
travellers, ever an increasing crowd, who will pass your way, may be impelled to say as
they draw near your City:
“I pray you let us satisfy our eyes
With the Memorials and the things of fame
That do renown this City.”
Appendix III “Coalsamao” by E.A. Partridge-Excerpts
…Many (e)utopias have been devised, some with considerable wealth of detail;
but all have one fatal defect, as “working plans,” of being, so to speak, “nowhere”: they
have never applied to a definite locality with known natural characteristics, nor to a
definite group of real people, with real political, social and economic entanglements
internal and external, to contend with. My (e)utopian day-dream relates to the country
lying east and west, between Lake Superior and the Pacific Ocean, north and south
between the 49th and 60th degree of North Latitude, and to the inhabitants of the same, a
few years hence.
Since the chapter following this has to do with “how to change things,” that is to
say, how to convert the “dream” into reality, the sketch which takes up the rest of this
chapter assumes that the population inhabiting the above-described area in the near future
has passed the stage of transition from the old order to the new social order, and that the
New State, erected to enable it to smoothly function, is a fully accomplished fact. Hence
my readers, from this point to the end of the chapter, may regard themselves—despite the
absence of quotation marks—as listening to an inhabitant of the new autonomous
political entity, known as Coalsamao, describing it and its institutions to an interested
Coalsamao (pronounced Co-al'-sa-ma"-o) gets its name from the first two letters
of the names of the former provinces now merged to form it (Br.) Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, with the final “o” for that part of Ontario also included.
It is a fully self-governed, self-constituted State with a single one-chambered
legislative and administrative body, corresponding to a House of Representatives, but
called “The High Court of Control,” consisting of twenty-five members elected annually,
sitting in perpetual session, during their term of office, chiefly for investigatory,
supervisory, and administrative purposes, there being but little legislative work for them
to do.
This High Court of Control carries on under the terms of a written Constitution,
changes in which can be initiated only by concerted action of at least a fourth of the
primary organized socio-economic units called “Camps,” and consummated by popular
assent indicated by a favorable plebiscite.
The Constitution defines “The State of Coalsamao” as a “Co-operative
Commonwealth”—“an association of the inhabitants thereof for the effective
employment of the combined strength of the bodies, brains, and belongings of the
associates, for the securing of their common safety from the attacks of external and
internal foes, human and non-human; for the adequate and easy supplying of their
common needs and the effective advancement of their common interests as recognized by
the majority; and also, for the extending of timely help and protection to such of them as
in sudden vicissitude shall have need of help and protection.”
The population is grouped so as to form sub-associations—called “Camps”
containing not less than three thousand five hundred, nor more than seven thousand
persons of all ages—a Camp on reaching the seven thousand mark being divided into
two. The name “Camp” was indicative of an army-like organization of this unit for the
systematic carrying on of its allotted local part of the work of necessary production,
transportation, and exchange, and also as suggestive of the transitory nature of individual
human life, a mere wayside adventure, so to speak, in the company of a few
contemporaries, so brief in duration it requires that if we are going to really live at all we
must not spend three quarters of our allotted time preparing to do so.
From the “Camps” are drawn on occasion the personnel of a number of field
forces composed mainly of young adult males and youths in training.
Each Camp enjoys local self-government, the functions and powers of the High
Court having mainly to do with inter-Camp relations and those matters affecting the
whole body of citizens. Each Camp, besides enjoying local self-government, elects a
delegate to a Regional Rally or Assembly composed of one twenty-fifth of the total
number of Camp representatives. This Assembly is neither a legislative nor an executive
body, but the delegates come prepared to put the view-point of their respective camps on
certain questions they desire to see dealt with by the High Court before the assembly, and
to confer with fellow-delegates as to what the High court, to which they elect one of their
number, should be advised by resolution or solicited by a petition to enact as a legislative
body, or to perform in its executive capacity...
The High Court is centrally located and has radio-communication with each
camp, and such of the field forces, as are not working under local direction, as of a camp
or a number of camps co-operating for the accomplishment of some purpose of less than
national import. The “Court” is in perpetual session under a presiding officer selected
from its membership and styled High Chief. Members may not absent themselves for
more than thirty days without rendering their office vacant except when officially
employed elsewhere by direction of the Court. Seats rendered vacant are filled by the
Court by choosing the “alternate” if possible, if not then the “runner-up” if there be one,
otherwise some other member of the Regional Assembly to which the former member
belonged. The High Court carries on its chief activities under ten Departments of State:
1. Administration and Control.
2. Order and Justice.
3. Education and Publicity.
4. Health and Well-being.
5. Communication and Transport.
6. Production and Employment.
7. Distribution and Exchange.
8. Public Works and Services.
9. Research and Inventions.
10. International Relations.
These Departments are under direction of single members or committees of the
High Court who are surrounded by a sufficient staff of officers, advisers and assistants,
experts in various lines, big people of wide experience and high attainments as scientists,
technicians, investigators, inventors, organizers, and administrators in practical activities
requiring large-scale co-operative effort.
When the Coalsamaos, figuratively speaking, came out of the land of Pharaoh,
(faro)—the thieves’ resort and gambling den known as “The Business World”—they
gave up their various questionable methods of acquiring a living, and with much
enthusiasm devoted themselves to the not unpleasant duty of earning it. Life took on the
aspect of a great adventure. They were all soldiers, enlisted to wage a triumphant war on
poverty and allied evils, concerned,—not to destroy but to create; not to kill but to make
more abundantly live. Everyone was in the fight and on the same side; a neighbor was
no longer an antagonist but an associate, no longer a competitor but a comrade. There
had been a tremendous enlargement of the citizen’s views as to the State and its proper
functions. To them it was no longer, as the older State had been, merely the maker and
enforcer of one-sided rules; the partial umpire in the game of Grab; the protector of
property and privilege, however acquired; no longer a mere policeman—the preserver of
a pretense of peace that was nothing more than sullen submission of “the propertyless” to
a set of conditions artfully designed to keep them propertyless...
In Coalsamao there are few laws: so few, and so simple and understandable, are
they, having so little to do with monetary and proprietory interests, that the citizens are
neither afflicted with lawsuits nor burdened with the maintenance of lawyers. In other
countries most laws have to do with “real” property and with contracts of one sort or
another, the outcome of private ownership of “real” property. Here there is no private
ownership of such things as mines, timber-limits, farm lands, industrial and business
sites, residential locations, water-fronts or rights of way, nor of large-scale “business”
which come from private ownership of such, consequently no leasings, sellings or
bequeathings of these. There are no contracts between citizens enforcible by law, nor
obligations with which the law has anything to do, if we except the mutual natural
obligations of man and wife, parent and child, citizen and fellow-citizen, that have to do
with decent behaviour and which are pretty well embodied in the Ten Commandments,
which that celebrated dictator named Moses compiled and endeavored to buttress with a
higher authority and his own. For instance, there is no provision in Coalsamao’s laws for
the collection of rent, or interest, or recovery of a loan, or for redemption of a promise,
whether dischargeable in services, in money, or in kind; but there are laws designed for
the discouragement of offences against the dignity, liberty, mental and moral integrity,
and person of all citizens, and others for securing to them the peaceful possession and
free enjoyment of personal property. The State takes upon itself the obligation of
defending its citizens against wrongs suffered at the hands of their fellows. Failing the
securing of full compensation or restitution to the victim by the wrong-doer, the State
itself accepts the duty of as completely as may be repairing the injury without any cost to
the injured—a procedure in startling contrast with the former custom here and the present
practice elsewhere.
The State assumes responsibility for the hygienic, moral, cultural, and vocational
training of the young, for the comfort of the aged and incapacitated, and for medical and
surgical care for all. It also has its “Law of Work,”—“If any man will not work neither
shall he eat”—which, with the obviously necessary exceptions, is rigidly enforced as
fundamental to a just and stable social organization.
Teachers—the term includes all who are engaged in fitting the uninstructed for
carrying on the affairs of life—physicians, surgeons, dentists, opticians, druggists, civil
engineers, scientists, inventors, and technicians of all sorts are engaged in the public
service either under direction—where not in direction—of a local or central authority,
one or other of which supplies all the equipment required for their various activities.
All useful discoveries, inventions, and acquisitions of conspicuous knowledge and
skill are at the entire disposal of the State which recognizes any exceptional service to
society by public acknowledgment of it, and enlargement of the opportunity for the useful
servant to pursue the special object of his professional interest, than which no greater
reward can be given the enthusiastic seeker after knowledge, nor a better plan adopted for
increasing the general stock of useful information...
Coalsamaos are not plagued with politicians, since these flourish only where there
are political parties, and such are found only where there is a division of economic
interest, so sharp as to express itself in classes which produce “class” government, that is
to say, rule by a dominant class or classes in the interest of this or these and to the
prejudice of any others. They can not have “class” government, because they are not
divided into classes: there are no rich, no poor; everybody is simply well-to-do: there is
no cultured, as contrasted with an uncultured, no leisured as opposed to a working, class:
all are cultured who are capable of culture; all are workers, where not excused through
youth, old age, disability, or exemption, earned by some eminent service or sacrifice; and
since each is required to do a fair share of work, each is assured of a fair amount of
leisure—there wouldn’t otherwise be enough necessary work to go round in this machine
There is no longer a rural and an urban population with too close crowding for
some, and too great isolation, for others; it is all suburban, with the same social,
educational and recreational opportunities, and the same domestic conveniences for all...
The forests are conserved, replantings exceed cuttings, mines are operated to
avoid waste, weed-infested arable lands are not wastefully and expensively tilled, but
returned to grass to be cleansed and recuperated by Nature. Kindred peoples who, in
their home land, lack space and natural means for maintaining a proper, standard of
living, are made welcome and given opportunity, if willing to conform to the customs and
practices of the Co-operative Commonwealth, to share in the natural wealth to which
none has better title, come from where he may, than he who properly uses it. It seems
more logical to transport people once and to be done with it, than carry their supplies to
them annually if such be necessary to maintain them where they are.
Transportation under these conditions is reduced to a minimum. Coal is not now
carried long distances but transmuted into power where it is found and so transmitted to
where it is to be used for driving machines, for lighting, or for heating. With the
vexatious restrictions on the manufacture of alcohol removed,—they served no moral
purpose, but prevented, as certain interests desired that they should, the rural population
from providing themselves with cheap power—and relying on persuasion instead of
prohibition to combat the drink evil, vegetable wastage, and potatoes, grown for the
purpose, are made to yield a safe, clean, cheap motor fuel for small engines, and for
tractors to replace the horse in agriculture and local transport; while a new synthetic
motor fuel at a very low cost is in sight...
The disappearance of class distinctions has caused a marvellous simplification in
dress, which means an almost incredible salvaging of time and effort to be much more
intelligently spent than in alleged adornment of the body. The wearing of feathers, fur,
and fantastic fabrics of all conceivable variety of shade and diversity of pattern, with
buttons, and beads, and buckles to match, was by common consent abandoned for the
putting on of uniforms that serve to indicate that the wearers belong to the same socioeconomic organization, are all serving in the Army of the Common Good; are comrades,
not competitors. There are differences in apparel to meet the requirements of the
occasion on which it is worn, but there are no invidious distinctions in cut or quality—
any differences being to secure appropriateness of the clothing to the work to be done in
it. There are summer and winter weights of wear; work-a-day and holiday, but no funeral
clothes—these latter being regarded as unseemly as sackcloth and ashes would have
seemed to our fathers and mothers, though common enough in the days of David. All are
designed to be serviceable, pleasing to the eye, and comfortable to the body, not, as
formerly, to advertise differences in rank and fortune. For obvious reasons the sexes are
distinguished by their clothes, but women’s dress is no longer attenuated and abbreviated
for the more effective display of sexual charms, it having come to be fully recognized
that sexual interest, for the good of the individual, and the race, stands in much greater
need of being discouraged than inflamed. Then, too, the economic security of woman
being no longer dependent on making herself sexually attractive to some male possessed
of wealth sufficient to supply her needs, have rendered it unnecessary for her to decorate
her body in order to make what in essence constituted an advantageous sale of it...
The sexes are segregated throughout their whole school life. The boys are in
charge of mature men; the girls are intrusted to the care of matrons. There is the utmost
frankness in imparting information as to the functions of the body and sex-hygiene, and
every precaution is taken to insure that perversions of these are not practised, and that
sexual desire is not stimulated by conversation, reading, dramatic representation, or
improper bodily contact, as in dancing. The laws of health and the exercises and
inhibitions enjoined by them are sedulously taught. Pride in perfection of health and in
completeness of self-control as resistant to the unseemly and base are encouraged. The
young men and maidens are made aware that had human beings retained the continence
of the lower animals we might by now have been as gods and goddesses, to do and to
Agriculture is taught in the fields, animal husbandry in the stables, horticulture in
the gardens and greenhouses, orcharding in the orchards, mechanics in the machine
shops, the builder’s art in construction work, manufacturing in the factories, domestic
science in the homes for the disabled and aged, or otherwhere that affords opportunity to
couple instruction with service...
Education is the Alpha and Omega of Social Evolution. “Ye shall know the truth
and the truth shall make you free.”
“All in the dark we grope along,
And if we go amiss,
We learn at least which path is wrong
And there is gain in this.
We do not always win the race
By only running right.
We have to tread the mountain’s base
Before we reach the height.
But he who loves himself the last
And knows the use of pain,
Though strewn with errors all his past,
He surely shall attain.”
Appendix IV Co-operative Commonwealth Federation “Regina Manifesto”
The C.C.F. is a federation of organizations whose purpose is the establishment in
Canada of a Co-operative Commonwealth in which the principle regulating production,
distribution and exchange will be the supplying of human needs and not the making of
We aim to replace the present capitalist system, with its inherent injustice and
inhumanity, by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by
another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated
private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine democratic self-government,
based upon economic equality, will be possible. The present order is marked by glaring
inequalities of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability; and in an age of
plenty it condemns the great mass of the people to poverty and insecurity. Power has
become more and more concentrated into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of
financiers and industrialists and to their predatory interests the majority are habitually
sacrificed. When private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort, our society
oscillates between periods of feverish prosperity in which the main benefits go to
speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man's
normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated. We believe that these evils can be
removed only in a planned and socialized economy in which our natural resources and
the principal means of production and distribution are owned, controlled and operated by
the people.
The new social order at which we aim is not one in which individuality will be
crushed out by a system of regimentation. Nor shall we interfere with cultural rights of
racial or religious minorities. What we seek is a proper collective organization of our
economic resources such as will make possible a much greater degree of leisure and a
much richer individual life for every citizen.
This social and economic transformation can be brought about by political action,
through the election of a government inspired by the ideal of a Co-operative
Commonwealth and supported by a majority of the people. We do not believe in change
by violent means. We consider that both the old parties in Canada are the instruments of
capitalist interests and cannot serve as agents of social reconstruction and that, whatever
the superficial differences between them, they are bound to carry on government in
accordance with the dictates of the big business interests who finance them. The C.C.F.
aims at political power in order to put an end to this capitalist domination of our political
life. It is a democratic movement, a federation of farmer, labor and socialist
organizations, financed by its own members and seeking to achieve its ends solely by
constitutional methods. It appeals for support to all who believe that the time has come
for a far-reaching reconstruction of our economic and political institutions and who are
willing to work together for the carrying out of the following policies:
The establishment of a planned, socialized, economic order, to make possible the
most efficient development of the national resources and the most equitable distribution
of the national income.
The first step in this direction will be the setting up of a National Planning
Commission consisting of a small body of economists, statisticians and engineers assisted
by an appropriate technical staff...
Socialization of all financial machinery—banking, currency, credit, and
insurance--to make possible the effective control of currency, credit and prices and the
supplying of new productive equipment for socially desirable purposes.
Planning by itself will be of little use if the public authority has not the power to
carry its plans into effect. Such power will require the control of finance and of all those
vital industries and services, which, if they remain in private hands, can be used to thwart
or corrupt the will of the public authority. Control of finance is the first step to the
control of the whole economy...
Socialization (Dominion, Provincial or Municipal) of transportation,
communications, electric power, and all other industries and services essential to social
planning and their operation under the general direction of the Planning Commission by
competent managements freed from day to day political interference.
Public utilities must be operated for the public benefit and not for the private
profit of a small group of owners or financial manipulators. Our natural resources must
be developed by the same methods. Such a program means the continuance and
extension of the public ownership enterprises in which most governments in Canada have
already gone some distance...
Security of tenure for the farmer upon his farm on conditions to be laid down by
individual Provinces; insurance against unavoidable crop failure; removal of the tariff
burden from the operations of agriculture; encouragement of producers’ and consumers’
co-operatives; the restoration and maintenance of an equitable relationship between
prices of agricultural products and those of other commodities and services; and
improving the efficiency of export trade in farm products.
The security of tenure for the farmer upon his farm, which is imperilled by the
present disastrous situation of the whole industry, together with adequate social
insurance, ought to be guaranteed under equitable conditions.
The prosperity of agriculture, the greatest Canadian industry, depends upon a
rising volume of purchasing power of the masses in Canada for all farm goods consumed
at home, and upon the maintenance of large scale exports of the staple commodities at
satisfactory prices or equitable commodity exchange.
The regulation in accordance with the National plan of external trade through
import and export boards.
Canada is dependent on external sources of supply for many of her essential
requirements of raw materials and manufactured products. These she can obtain only by
large exports of the goods she is best fitted to produce. The strangling of our export trade
by insane protectionist policies must be brought to an end...
The encouragement by the public authority of both producers' and consumers' cooperative institutions.
In agriculture, as already mentioned, the primary producer can receive a larger net
revenue through co-operative organization of purchases, and marketing. Similarly in
retail distribution of staple commodities such as milk, there is room for development both
of public municipal operation and of consumers' co-operatives, and such co-operative
organization can be extended into wholesale distribution and into manufacturing. Cooperative organization can be extended into wholesale distribution and into
manufacturing. Co-operative enterprises should be assisted by the state through
appropriate legislation and through the provision of adequate credit facilities.
A National Labor Code to secure for the worker maximum income and leisure,
insurance covering illness, accident, old age, and unemployment, freedom of association
and effective participation in the management of his industry or profession.
The spectre of poverty and insecurity which still haunts every worker, though
technological developments have made possible a high standard of living for everyone, is
a disgrace which must be removed from our civilization. The community must organize
its resources to effect progressive reduction of the hours of work in accordance with
technological development and to provide a constantly rising standard of life to everyone
who is willing to work...
Publicly organzied health, hospital and medical services.
With the advance of medical science, the maintenance of a healthy population has
become a function for which every civilized community should undertake responsibility.
Health services should be made at least as freely available as are educational services
today. But under a system which is still mainly one of private enterprise the costs of
proper medical care, such as the wealthier members of society can easily afford, are at
present prohibitive for great masses of the people. A properly organized system of public
health services, including medical and dental care, which would stress the prevention
rather than the cure of illness, should be extended to all our people in both rural and
urban areas. This is an enterprise in which Dominion, Provincial and Municipal
authorities, as well as the medical and dental professions, can co-operate.
9. B.N.A. ACT.
The amendment of the Canadian Constitution, without infringing upon racial or
religious minority rights or upon legitimate Provincial claims to autonomy, so as to give
the Dominion Government adequate powers to deal effectively with urgent economic
problems which are essentially national in scope; the abolition of the Canadian Senate...
A Foreign Policy designed to obtain international economic co-operation and to
promote disarmament and world peace...
A new taxation policy designed not only to raise public revenues but also to
lessen the glaring inequalities of income and to provide funds for social services and the
socialization of industry; the cessation of the debt creating system of Public Finance.
In the type of economy that we envisage the need for taxation, as we now
understand it, will have largely disappeared. It will nevertheless be essential, during the
transition period, to use the taxing powers, along with the other methods proposed
elsewhere, as a means of providing for the socialization of industry, and for extending the
benefits of increased Social Services...
An inevitable defect of the capitalist system is the debt-creating character of
Public Financing. All public debts have enormously increased and the fixed interest
charges paid thereon now amount to the largest single item of so-called uncontrollable
public expenditures. The C.C.F. proposes that in future no Public Financing shall be
permitted which facilitates the perpetuation of the parasitic interest-receiving class; that
capital shall be provided through the medium of the National Investment Board and free
from perpetual interest charges.
We propose that all Public Works, as directed by the Planning Commission, shall
be financed by the issuance of credit as suggested, based upon the National Wealth of
Freedom of speech and assembly for all; repeal of Section 98 of the Criminal
Code; amendment of the Immigration Act to prevent the present inhuman policy of
deportation; equal treatment before the law of all residents of Canada, irrespective of
race, nationality or religious or political beliefs.
In recent years, Canada has seen an alarming growth of Fascist tendencies among
all governmental authorities. The most elementary rights of freedom of speech and
assembly have been arbitrarily denied to workers and to all whose political and social
views do not meet with the approval of those in power. The lawless and brutal conduct
of the police in certain centres in preventing public meetings and in dealing with political
prisoners must cease...
The establishment of a commission composed of psychiatrists, psychologists,
socially minded jurists and social workers to deal with all matters pertaining to crime and
punishment and the general administration of law in order to humanize the law and to
bring it into harmony with the needs of the people.
While the removal of economic inequality will do much to overcome the most
glaring injustices in the treatment of those who come into conflict with the law, our
present archaic system must be changed and brought into accordance with a modern
concept of human relationships. This new system must not be based, as is the present
one, upon vengeance and fear, but upon an understanding of human behavior...
The assumption by the Dominion Government of direct responsibility for dealing
with the present critical unemployment situation and for tendering suitable work or
adequate maintenance, the adoption of measures to relieve the extremity of the crisis such
as a program of public spending on housing, and other enterprises that will increase the
real wealth of Canada, to be financed by the issue of credit based on the national wealth.
The extent of unemployment and the widespread suffering which it has caused
create a situation with which Provincial and Municipal governments have long been
unable to cope and force upon the Dominion government direct responsibility for dealing
with the crisis as the only authority with financial resources adequate to meet the
situation. Unemployed workers must be secured in the tenure of their homes, and the
scale and methods of relief, at present altogether inadequate, must be such as to preserve
decent human standards of living...
No C.C.F. Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put
into operation the full program of socialized planning which will lead to the
establishment in Canada of the Co-operative Commonwealth.
Appendix V Stephen Leacock’s My Discovery of the West-Excerpt
With the money raised the Company 'engages' the immigrants. They go with
wives, children and all, passage paid, everything paid. When they arrive in the Valley of
Hope they work for wages: they get part in cash, till they repay their passage money.
Then they get all in cash, unless and until they want to take a holding, that is, to call their
house their own, or take a blacksmith shop or any single enterprise. If they want to do
that then they can, while still working for the company, leave a part of their wages to go
as instalment against their tenure. It is the plan of the Irish Land Purchase of 1902 and of
a hundred and one house-owning plans.
The company has marked out the Valley of Hope, not exactly into town lots, as
now-a-days, but on a plan. Towns, we are told, are very soon (I mean in fifty years) going
to give way to another form of human occupation of the land,—‘centifrugal settlement’ a
sort of centre and suburbs,—everything trying to get away from the centre and seek space
and isolation. In the Valley of Hope, just where the River of Peace joins its twin stream
the River of Contentment, there will be an obviously central spot for Administration
buildings, the Government buildings of Canada, the Hospital, the High School,—a town
but with everything trying not to be in it.
There will be other focus points or lesser settlement. All this will be marked out
The company will mark and keep in reserve a lot of sites and locations. On others
it will build houses, farmsteads, sawmills, and blacksmith shops, and carpenter shops,—
At first the company does it all: then less and less: in about fifty years it winds up,—
with a maximum set and a minimum hoped for, as the final compensation of its
One asks what are the receipts of the company? In cash very little at first, hardly
anything. Very likely there is something which it can produce with its hired labour and
sell, even at the start. But the process would be risky and should be kept carefully in
control. What it would sell would depend on the location: it might be lumber or pulpwood or fish, or in limits and carefully, grain and fruit.
But every time the company builds a house, or builds a dam, an asset is created,
though no cash return appears as yet. That is why it is allowed to pay a dividend out of
capital. One asks why pay a dividend at all? The reason is psychological. People will
subscribe ever so much more readily if there is an actual dividend than even for a far
larger dividend in prospect.
But company's cash receipts will grow all the time. Outside services, not part of
the life-tissue of the land settlement, will pay a revenue. Thus,—the company builds a
moving picture theatre at Hope Centre and an outsider rents it and puts on films: he also
rents a house to live in. The picture house and the picture man are non-essential. In hard
times they must look out for themselves. So is the barber who opens the shop and gives
Roman Massage to the blacksmith. He is not a company man. He pays rent and if hard
times come, and it's a close shave, then he'll have to make it a little closer.
Very soon a large group of non-essential out-siders will attach to the settlement.
They are like tissue turning into bone. One asks who pay them? The answer is that they
partly pay one another as when the barber goes to moving pictures and the moving
picture man gets shaved, and both pay the company rent to do it. Also the company's
own people from the start have money,—real money, not scrip, not prosperity,—paid to
them as whole or part wages.
Other revenues keep coming. The Company permits 'Manorial Settlement' for
people arriving with their own money to take up a ‘Manor’. This brings in the money for
building and the money for the land.
But turn a moment to the difficulties and watch how they multiply like a cloud of
flies. I remember how once a distinguished college principal under whom I served said,
"When I hear of a new scheme being advocated I never ask who's for it but who's against
it". So it is well to see what a lot of difficulties there are. Where do these Pilgrims of
Hope get medical service? Private practice wouldn't do, obviously,—it would mean
no doctors or too many doctors. State doctors,—that is, hired by the company? But one
knows a1l the present difficulty with that in England and in the British Columbia
scheme.—I think a modified system, company doctors and a company hospital, but with
a private supplemental fee to keep the advantage of private-practice.
School teachers? Does the provincial school system apply, or does the Company
do it all? I don't know.
Liquor. How much do they drink and where do they get it. I don't know. But
they'll get it somehow.
Much more difficult problem,—the Mail Order List. Must the Pilgrims of Hope
buy their boots from the local bootmaker, made with local leather? Can't they order from
outside? I'm just afraid they can't, not the essential things, made in the Valley,—no.
Then can the bootmaker charge what he pleases? and if not, isn't that getting close to
socialism? Well it does look like it. ...And yet certain self-sufficient trades must be kept
up. ...Better go and think about it, some more.
Electric light? I guess they can't have it. Plumbing? I think that can be local.
Turn to some of the easy things. For example, hotels.—will there be hotels? Ah!
Will there! That'll be one of the best things the company does and from which it draws a
real revenue. There will be more 'tourists' coming to look at the new settlement than can
be found beds for. They'll have to stay awake all night and spend money.
The company management? Does that imply a set of angels as it does under
socialism? I don't think so. I think that ordinary company management would apply to
the Valley of Hope. Officials nominated by the Directors, and paid and retained
according to results, would meet the needs of the case. Results would be judged,
presumably, not solely and brutally in terms of last-cent profit. It would include the idea
of social contentment, of human happiness. Success or failure would soon write itself all
over the Valley and good management would prove itself, bad management condemn
The great merit of a plan of Company Settlement, on some such lines as indicated,
is that if it succeeds once, it can de done again. It can be duplicated over and over. It is,
in other words, if it succeeds, an invention. After that, we know how. Vainly have
people sought in the past for such single-type inventions of social organization, which
once successful spread of their own power. Such was Fourier's dream of his ‘Phalanx’,
so widely heralded a century ago. Such was Louis Blanc's famous National Workshops
of the France of 1848. Those failed. Perhaps this wont.
It's a beautiful dream anyway. And I don't see why, worked out in more careful
detail, it should not enlist support.
The section on Further Reading provides sources for the history of utopianism
and the intentional community. A useful source for aspects of the history of
Saskatchewan is The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Regina: Canadian Plains Research
Centre, 2005; for example, the articles on crown corporations by Karen Schmidt and
David M. Quiring reflect some of the building of the “co-operative commonwealth.”
Political history and policy choices are subjects of Dale Eisler’s False Expectations:
Politics and the Pursuit of the Saskatchewan Myth, Regina: Canadian Plains Research
Centre, 2006. The Carillon article is “A Study in Frustration” by Barbara Cameron (13
September 1968) 13. Current information on the definition of intentional communities
and many examples of communities is available at www.ic.org
Alphabetical Listing
Cohn, Norman. The Pursuit of the Millenium. Revolutionary millenarians and mystical
anarchists of the Middle Ages. London: Granada Publishing Ltd., 1970 [1957].
Johnson, Gilbert. “The Adamites.” Saskatchewan History 23, 2 (Spring 1970) 70-74.
Don Baron
Jailhouse Justice. Regina: 2001
Barr Colony
Lynne Bowen. Muddling Through. The Remarkable Story of the Barr Colonists.
Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1992. Paul S. Hordern. Something Ventured
Something Gained. Reminiscences of a Barr Colonist. Saskatoon: 1978.
Barr’s Pamphlet
Quoted in Helen Evans Reid. All Silent, All Damned. The Search for Isaac Barr.
Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1969, 146-59.
Barr Colony in Fiction
Harry Pick. Next Year…. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1928.
Mary Hiemstra. Gully Farm. With drawings by Stephen Andrews. Toronto:
McClelland and Stewart, 1955. Republished in 1997 by Fifth House/University of
Toronto Press.
Edward Bellamy
S.M. Lipset. Agrarian Socialism: the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in
Saskatchewan. A Study in Political Sociology. Berkely: University of California Press.
1971 [1950], 100.
Duerkop, John D. "From The Hub Of The Universe To The Pioneer West: Allan
Newcombe and the Bostonia Colony." Saskatoon History Review. No. 6 (1991) 26-35.
Newcombe History Committee. As It Happened…History of the R. M. of
Newcombe #260. Madison, SK: 1992.
Cannington Manor
Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management brochure. “Cannington Manor”
n.d. Patrick A. Dunae. Gentlemen Emigrants: From the British Public School to the
Canadian Frontier, Toronto: Douglas McIntyre, 1981. Mark Zuehlke. Scoundrels,
Dreamers & Second Sons. British Remittance Men in the Canadian West, Vancouver:
Whitecap Books, 1994. A. W. Rasporich. “Utopian Ideals and Community
Settlements…” see "Further Reading". John Archer “Cannington Manor”. 30 minute
video in the “John Archer’s Saskatchewan” series, CKCK TV, Regina.
Cannington Manor in Fiction
Harold Bindloss. A Sower of Wheat. London and Glasgow: Collins Clear Type Press,
n.d. [1901]
Warren Cariou
Lake of the Prairies. A Story of Belonging. Anchor Canada Edition /Random House,
2003 [2002].
Powell, Trevor. “The Church of England and the Immigrants in the Diocese of
Qu’Appelle” in The Anglican Church and The World of Western Canada, 1820-1970, ed.
by Barry Ferguson, Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina,
1991, 143-153.
Robert Collins
Butter Down The Well. Reflections of a Canadian Childhood. Saskatoon: Western
Producer Prairie Books, 1986 [1980].
Crazy Land
Research Bureau. Vol. 1, No. 8. Regina, March 1934, p.4. Courtesy of Saskatchewan
Credit Unions
Clements, Muriel. By Their Bootstraps. A History of the Credit Union Movement in
Saskatchewan. Toronto, Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Co., 1965.
Cuthand, Beth
“Four Songs for the Fifth Generation”, Voices in the Waterfall 1989, and
in The Wascana Poetry Anthology, Ed. R. Harvey, Regina: Canadian Plains Research
Centre, 1996, 228-32. Georges E. Sioui For an Amerindian Autohistory…, trans. Sheila
Fischman, Montreal & Kingston: McGill–Queen’s University Press, 1992.
Dietrick, Lorne
“Matador. The memoirs of a Co-operative Farmer.” Ed. George Melnyk. Unpublished
typescript, Centre For the Study of Cooperatives, Saskatoon, 1988.
Direct Legislation
Chambers, Elizabeth. “The Referendum and the Plebiscite”, Politics in Saskatchewan ed.
Norman Ward & Duff Spafford, Don Mills: Longman’s Canada Ltd, 1968, 59-77.
Bill Barry. “The Doukhobors” in People Places. Saskatchewan and its Names, Regina:
Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina, 1997. Lyons, John E. “Toil and
a Peaceful Life: Peter V. Verigin and Doukhobor Education” in Communal Societies.
Journal of the Communal Studies Association. Volume Eleven. Evansville, Indiana:
Centre for Communal Studies, University of Southern Indiana, 1991, 78-92. “National
Doukhobor Heritage Village Inc” (brochure). Stupnikoff, Sam George. Historical Saga
of the Doukhobor Faith 1750-1990s. Toil and Peaceful Life. Blaine Lake, SK: Sam G.
Stupnikoff, 1992. Koozma J. Tarasoff. “The Western Settlement of Canadian
Doukhobors” in Visions of The New Jerusalem… ed. Benjamin G. Smillie, Edmonton:
Newest Press, 1983. Carl Tracie. “Toil and Peaceful Life”: Doukhobor Village
Settlement in Saskatchewan 1899-1918. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre,
Deana Driver
Just a Bunch of Farmers. The Story of Weyburn Inland Terminal 1976-2001. Weyburn:
Weyburn Inland Terminal Ltd, 2001.
EcoLiving: Your Guide To Sustainable Living, ed. Marieka Sax, Denise MacDonald,
Malin Hansen, Regina: Regina EcoLiving, 2005. See www.communitiesoftomorrow.ca .
Kovacs, Martin Louis. Esterhazy and Early Hungarian Immigration to Canada. A Study
Based Upon the Esterhazy Immigration Pamphlet. Regina: Canadian Plains Studies,
University of Regina, 1974.
“Construction Experts Arrived Today to Start Work on New Machinery Works at
Factoria”. Daily Star (14 May 1913). Kerr, Don. “Factoria”. Saskatoon Heritage
Society Newsletter (March 1981) 1-6.
File Hills Colony
Sarah Carter, Lost Harvests. Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy,
Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990. Sarah Carter,
“Demonstrating Success: The File Hills Farm Colony,” Prairie Forum XVI, 2 (Fall
1991) 157-83.
Grain Growers
T. G. Heath. “Protest Songs of Saskatchewan,” Saskatchewan History Vol. XXV, No 3
(Autumn 1972) 81-91.
Green Haven
“Enjoy life…Naturally!” Pamphlet of the American Association for Nude Recreation.
Erin Warner. “Nude when possible, clothes when necessary.” Leader-Post (13 July
2006) A5.
Grey Owl
The Men of the Last Frontier in The Collected Works of Grey Owl. Toronto: Key Porter
(Prospero) Books, 1999, 2004.
Frederick Philip Grove. Our Daily Bread, Toronto: The MacMillan Company of Canada,
Louise Halfe
Bear Bones and Feathers. Regina: Coteau Books, 1994. In 2005 Halfe was named as
Saskatchewan’s new Poet Laureate.
Tracy Hamon
This Is Not Eden. Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 2005.
Harmony Industrial Association
Alex MacDonald. “Practical Utopians: Ed and Will Paynter and the Harmony Industrial
Association,” Saskatchewan History Vol 47 No 1 (Spring 1995) 13-26. Practical
Utopians. The Lives and Writings of Ed and Will Paynter, Saskatchewan Co-operative
Pioneers. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2004.
Trevor Herriot
River In A Dry Land: A Prairie Passage. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 2000.
Hiebert, Paul
Sarah Binks, introduction by A. Lloyd Wheeler, Toronto/Montreal: McClelland and
Stewart, 1964 [1947].
Hofer, Samuel
Born Hutterite. Saskatoon: Hofer Publishing 1991; Dance Like a Poor Man. Winnipeg:
Hofer Publishers, 1995.
Hutterites in Saskatchewan and Lajord Colony
Hostetler, John A. Hutterite Society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974.
“Hutterites donate money to U of S”. Leader-Post, Regina 1 February 1990.
McMillan, D’Arce. “Concerns aired about Hutterite colonies”, Leader-Post, Regina
23 October 1987, A4.
Melnyk, George. The Search for Community. From Utopia to a
Co-operative Society. Montreal-Buffalo: Black Rose Books, 1985. Nikiforuk, Andrew.
“The Community Life”, photography by Brian Milne. Equinox: The Magazine of
Canadian Discovery, May/June 1987, 22-42. Peters, Victor. All Things Common. The
Hutterian Way of Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1965 “Program educates Hutterite
teachers”. Leader-Post. Regina, 14 December 1994. Ruth, John L. “The Hutterites:
To Care and Not To Care”. Henderson, Nebraska: Buller Films Inc, 199?. Wollman,
Johnny. “Á Hutterite School Day” KidProof 34, Radville, May 1991, 6-7. The story of
the Prairie leut or Prairie People of South Dakota is told in a lecture by Norman Hofer
from Freeman Academy in Freeman, South Dakota: tape lent by Darius Hofer. Norman
Hofer refers to The Prairie People: Forgotten Anabaptists by Rob Janzen. Hanover,
NH: University Press of New England, 1999. “Hutterite success story” by Kevin Hursh,
e-mail to Darius Hofer, 1 March 2005. “The Lajord Colony,” DVD produced by Quality
Assured Seeds, Media Max Interactive Productions 2005.
Bedford, Sybille. Aldous Huxley. A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf/Harper &
Row, 1973, 1974. Varcoe, Chris . “Saskatchewan’s LSD legacy”. Regina: LeaderPost (10 July 1992)
Jewish Colonies
Irving Abella. Coat of Many Colours. Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada, Toronto:
Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1990. Abraham Arnold. “New Jerusalem on the prairies:
Welcoming the Jews,” Visions of The New Jerusalem… ed. Benjamin G. Smillie,
Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1983, 91-108. Anthony W. Rasporich. “Early TwentiethCentury Jewish Farm Settlements in Saskatchewan: A Utopian Perspective,”
Saskatchewan History Vol XVII, No 1 (Winter 1989) 28-40. Cyril Edel Leonoff.
“Wapella Farm Settlement. The First Successful Jewish Farm Settlement in Canada”, A
Joint Publication of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba and Jewish
Historical Society of Western Canada, 1972. “Jewish settlers left farm behind” (CP),
Regina Leader-Post (22.1, 1990) D18.
Jewish Colonies in Fiction
Clara Hoffer and F. H. Kahan. Land of Hope, illus. by William Perehudoff, intro. by Dr.
H. Osmond (see Huxley in Saskatchewan), Regina: Modern Press Saskatoon, 1960.
Treena Kortje
Variations of Eve. Lake Audy, Manitoba: Adler and Ringe, 1999.
Stephen Leacock
Earlier works by Leacock have also been linked to the utopian theme. For example the
Mariposa of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) may be seen as an “ideal
community” that acknowledges “human fault” whereas the Plutoria of Arcadian
adventures with the Idle Rich, (1914) is “a negative examplar” of tendencies of liberal
individualism. See Gerald Lynch’s Stephen Leacock: Humour and Humanity, Montréal-
Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988, 7, and
Tim Lilburn
To the River. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc., 1999.
Little Saskatoon
Dawn S. Bowen. “‘Little Saskatoon’: An Experiment in Land Settlement during the
Great Depression.” Saskatchewan History 51, 1 (Spring 1999) 10-28.
Eli Mandel
The Other Harmony. The Collected Poetry of Eli Mandel. Volumes One and Two.
Edited by Andrew Stubbs and Judy Chapman. Regina: Canadian Plains Research
Centre, 2000.
“Maplecrest.” Advertisement in The Leader, Saturday, 2 November 1912, 25.
Marian Centre
“Marian Centre” brochure available from Marian Centre, 1835 Halifax Street, Regina,
S4P 1T4. Cheryl Ann Smith, “The best way to listen to God is to let go,” Prairie
Messenger, 22 April 1998, 25. Other publications available from Madonna House
Publications, Combermere, Ontario K0L 1L0. See www.madonnahouse.net
Matador Farm
George Melnyk. “Matador: The Co-operative Farming Tradition.” Saskatoon: Centre
for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan, 1992. Darlene Polachic.
“How a co-op farm came to be.” Western People (12 November 1998) 6-7.
Lorne Dietrick, “Matador. The Memoirs of a Co-operative Farmer”. Ed. George
Melnyk. Unpublished typescript, 1988, 99-106, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives,
Mawson Plan
Brennan, J. William. “Visions of a City Beautiful’: The origin and Impact of the
Mawson Plans for Regina.” Saskatchewan History Volume 46, Number 2 (Fall 1994)
19-33. Dale, Edmund H. “The Wascana Centre, Regina: Innovation in The Provision
and Development of Open Space, in Regina: Regional Isolation and Innovative
Development, ed. by Edmund H. Dale. Victoria: University of Victoria, 1980, 97-133.
Drake, Earl G. Regina. The Queen City. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Limited,
1955. Mawson, Thomas H. “A Preliminary Report of the Development of the City of
Regina”, 1913 (unpublished MS, Saskatchewan Archives). Rees, Ronald. New and
Naked Land. Making The Prairies Home. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books,
1988, 126-35. Riddell, W.A. The Origin and Development of Wascana Centre, 1992.
Smith, David E. Building a Province. A History of Saskatchewan in Documents.
Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1992.
E. T. Russell ed. What's in a Name. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1975,
808-09. Rod Andrews. “Mennonite farm building preserved and restored.” Western
Producer (15 Dec 1994). Mennonite Central Committee "Principles That Guide Our
Mission," 1991. T. D. Regehr. Mennonites in Canada, 1939-1970: A People
Transformed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.
Ken Mitchell
Davin: The Politician in Rebels in Time: Three Plays by Ken Mitchell. Edmonton:
NeWest Press, 1991 [1979].
Mitchell, W.O.
Who Has Seen The Wind. Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1947.
Murray, Père Athol
Gorman, Jack. Père Murray and the Hounds. The Story of Saskatchewan’s Notre Dame
College. Sidney, British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing Ltd., 1977.
O’Brien, Mike, “Remembering The Riot”, Leader-Post, 1 July 1996, A1-2. “A Cry
For Dignity” is a documentary film narrated by Pierre Berton. A full scholarly history is
Bill Waiser’s All Hell Can’t Stop Us: The On-to-Ottawa Trek and Regina Riot. Calgary:
Fifth House, 2003.
Partridge, E.A.
Berger, Carl. “A Canadian Utopia: The Cooperative Commonwealth of Edward
Partridge,” in Stephen Clarkson (ed.) Visions 2020, Edmonton: Hurtig, 1970, 257-62.
Knuttila, Murray. “That Man Partridge” E.A. Partridge, His Thoughts and Times,
Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina, 1994. Partridge,
Edward Alexander. A War on Poverty; the one war that can end war. Winnipeg:
Wallingford Press, 1925.
Paynter, Ed
Paynter, J. E. The New World Order and How It Will Be Established. Vancouver: 1941.
Paynter, Will
Paynter, W. C. The Trumpet Call of Canadian Money and Progress. An Ideal Handbook
of Monetary Reform. Tantallon, Saskatchewan: Canadian Currency and Banking
Reform League, 1932 [fourth edition].
Ron Petrie
“Provs invade Cracked Axle hotel” in Leader-Post (21 January 2005) page B1.
Piapot First Nations Village
“Capitalization on Culture” by Trevor Sutter, Leader-Post (24 July 1995) D1.
Poitras, Robin
Bringhurst, Robert. Ursa Major. A Polyphonic Masque for Speakers and Dancers. With
an Afterword by Peter Sanger. Gaspereau Press, MMIII. Cleniuk, Brenda. “Robin
Poitras in Caught in the Act. An anthology of performance art by Canadian women.
Edited by Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder. Toronto: YYZ Books, 2004. Smith,
Steven Ross. Celebrating Saskatchewan Artists. Regina: Saskatchewan Arts Alliance,
2006. Information on important recent work may be found at
www.grosmorneproject.com/robinpoitras , at
www.canadacouncil.ca/aboutus/artistsstories/dance/zl127519414238406250.htm and at
Primitive Methodist Colony
Campbell, Angelena Hughan. Man! Man! Just Look At That Land. Saskatoon, 1966.
Lalonde, A. N. “Colonization Companies in the 1880’s.” Pages From the Past. Essays
on Saskatchewan History. Ed. D. H. Bocking. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie
Books, 1979, 16-30. MacDonald, Christine. “Pioneer Church Life in Saskatchewan.”
Pages From the Past, 120-138. Sumner, Len W. Raw Prairie to Grain Elevators. The
Chronicles of a pioneer community Duff, Saskatchewan. Toronto: Dundurn Press
The Swarthmore Book Committee. “With Ox Goad and Bible.” Golden Threads 19051980.
Bruce Rice
The Illustrated Statue of Liberty. Regina: Coteau Books, 2003.
The Diaries of Louis Riel. ed. Thomas Flanagan. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1976.
Sinclair Ross
As For Me and My House. Toronto/Montreal: McClelland and Stewart, 1957 [1941].
St. Andrews and Benbecula
MacKinnon, James N. A Short History of the Pioneer Settlers of St. Andrews, Sask.,
1921. An unsuccessful settlement at Saltcoats is described in Stuart, Kent, “The Scottish
Crofter Colony, Saltcoats, 1889-1904”. Saskatchewan History XXIV (Spring 1971) No
2, 41-50. See also Wayne Norton’s book Help Us to a Better Land: Crofter Colonies in
the Prairie West, Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina, 1994,
for a full scholarly account of the crofter movement.
St. Hubert
Dubé, Albert O. “La Rolanderie revivra-t-elle?” Revue historique 10.1 (Octobre 1999) 210. Lapointe, Richard. “Noblesse et prairie”. La Saskatchewan de A à Z. Regina:
Societé historique de la Saskatchewan, 1987, 205-210. Lapointe, Richard and Tessier,
Lucille. The Francophones of Saskatchewan, A History. Regina: Campion College,
1986. Léonard, Carol. “Au pays de comtes.” Revue historique 10.2 (Décembre 1999) 19. Morin, Maurice. “The Valley of Hope: La Rolanderie and Cannington Manor.”
Toronto: CBC IDEAS program, broadcast January 18-19, 1994. Rasporich, A. W.
“Utopian Ideals and Community Settlements in Western Canada 1880-1914” in The
Canadian West, ed. Henry C. Klassen. Calgary: University of Calgary, Comprint
Publishing Company, 1977, 37-62. Whitewood History Book Committee. “St. Hubert
Hamlet”, Whitewood and Area 1892-1992, Vol 1. Whitewood: The Whitewood Herald,
1992, 97-101; and, in the same volume, “The French Connection” by Eilleen Williamson,
St. John’s College
Murray, Lucy H. “St. John’s College, Qu’Appelle, 1885-1894”. Saskatchewan History
Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 1958) 18-29. Trevor Powell. Ánglican Church of
Canada.” The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Regina: Canadian Plains Research
Centre, 2005, 58-59.
St. Joseph’s
Becker, A. “St. Joseph’s Colony, Balgonie,” Saskatchewan History XX, 1 Winter 1967,
1-18. Kinney, Myles C. Tyvan, As It was in the beginning… Regina 1987 [1986].
Zimmerman, Father Andreas. “The Roman Catholic Parish of St. Joseph’s near Balgonie
1936”. Translated by Klaus H. Burmeister. Deck, Sebastian Michael. Short History of
Five Colonies. Edmonton: 2000 [1999].
St. Peter’s Muenster
Hubbard, Bede. “St. Peter’s: A German-American marriage of monastery and colony.”
Visions of the New Jerusalem: Religious Settlement on the Prairies. Ed. Benjamin G.
Smillie. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1983, 153-64. Melnyk, George. The Search for
Community. From Utopia to a Co-operative Society. Montreal-Buffalo: Black Rose
Books, 1985. “Monte Cassino to Muenster”. Leaflet published by St. Peter’s Abbey.
Novecosky, Peter, OSB. Quest for a new homeland: the founding of St. Peter’s Colony
in Saskatchewan. Reprint of “Across the Boundary” by Fr. Bruno Doerfler, OSB, and
“St. Peter’s Abbey: 1903-1921” by Fr. Jerome Weber, OSB. Muenster: St. Peter’s
Press, 1988. Sinclair, Lister. “Monasticism as Rebellion.” Montreal” CBC Radio Ideas
transcript, broadcasts of Dec. 8, 15, 22, 1986. “St. Peter’s Abbey. Self-guided walking
tour.” Leaflet published by St. Peter’s Abbey. On writers’/artists’ colonies information
is available from the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.
Wallace Stegner
Wolf Willow. A History, A Story, And A Memory Of The Last Plains Frontier.
Introduction by Page Stegner. New York and London: Penguin Books, 2000 [1962].
Street and Wall Art
Greg Beatty. “Breath of fresh air for downtown”. Leader-Post (16 July 1992) C2.
There are several items included in this volume on the First Nations theme. File Hills is
about the disastrous early policy of forced assimilation, Beth Cuthand’s poem alludes to a
more harmonious past for First Nations people, while the street and wall art signals hope
for a more harmonious future. The present is a time of great change and often great
controversy. There are many notable efforts by First Nations people themselves to
reclaim their cultural heritage and rekindle self-respect including the Piapot First Nations
Village, Regina’s Chili For Children lunch program, the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in
Saskatoon, the First Nations University of Canada with its beautiful Douglas Cardinaldesigned building at the University of Regina and campuses in Saskatoon and Prince
Albert. It could well be argued that the 75 First Nations in Saskatchewan are examples of
intentional communities, especially as they begin to define themselves culturally and
achieve economic independence. Significant amounts of land are being transferred to
Saskatchewan bands under a treaty land entitlement program. One recently reported
example is the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, located along the Qu’Appelle Valley north
of Broadview, which added a seed and table potato operation to its cattle ranch. There
are difficulties such as uncertain markets, and the learning curve of beginning new
enterprises, but the desire for economic progress is one of many signs for the future
(Briere). “Fort Reserve Official.” Leader-Post (2 July 1994); “Aboriginal Awareness
Week.” Leader-Post (18 May 1996) G10. “Business behind economic recovery” by
Doug Cuthand, Leader-Post (27 October 2003), B1. “First Nations Eye Agriculture” and
“Treaty Claims redraw farmland map” by Karen Briere, Western Producer (18 May
2006) 1, 10-11. “First Nation Tourism: It’s Alive & Well in Saskatchewan.” LeaderPost (13 June 2006) D1-D10.
R.D. Symons
North By West. Two Stories From the Frontier. Don Mills, Ontario: Paper Jacks, 1974
Anne Szumigalski
Dogstones. Selected and New Poems. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1986, 62-63.
Temperance Colonization
Archer, John. Historic Saskatoon, A Concise Illustrated History of Saskatoon. In
collaboration with J. C. Bates, Saskatoon: Junior Chamber of Commerce, n. d. Delainey,
William P., and Sarjeant, William A. S. Saskatoon, The Growth of a City. Saskatoon:
The Saskatoon Environmental Society, 1975 [1974]. Kerr, Don, and Hanson, Stan.
Saskatoon: The First Half-Century. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1982.
Temperance Movement
Gareau, Laurier, “La Prohibition en Saskatchewan,” L’Eau Vive, 16 Nov 1995, 11.
Smith, David E., Building a Province. A History of Saskatchewan in Documents,
Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1992. “A Walking Tour of Lumsden” brouchure by the
Lumsden Historical Society.
Bertram Tennyson Q. C. The Land of Napioa and Other Essays in Prose and Verse.
Moosomin: The Spectator Printing and Publishing Co, 1896. Gilbert McKay. Tennyson
at Moosomin A McKay Book [1975].
Torville, Charles
Poems. London: Arthur H. Stockwell, n.d.
United People’s Church
Dietrick, Lorne. “Matador. The memoirs of a Co-operative Farmer.” Ed. George
Melnyk. Unpublished typescript, Centre For the Study of Cooperatives, Saskatoon, 1988.
University of Regina
Muthesius, Stefan. The Postwar University. Utopianist Campus and College. New
Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2000, 5-10. Letters to the Editor of the student
newspaper the Carillon (13 September 1968) 2. This was drawn to my attention by the
discussion of the new buildings in James M. Pitsula’s As One Who Serves: The Making
of the University of Regina, Montréal-Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2006,
Urban Parks
See Lewis Mumford, The City in History… New York: Harcourt, Brace and World,
1961; W.A. Riddell, The Origin and Development of Wascana Centre, 1992. See also
web-sites for the Meewasin Valley Authority of Saskatoon, and the cities of Moose Jaw,
Prince Albert and Swift Current. The Haldane Heath map is in the collection of the
Saskatoon Public Library.
Utopia Bar
Lori Allan. Western People (4 November 1993) 4-5.
Utopia Café
L. A. Kaminski, “Utopia Revisited”, Prairie Dog September 1998, 17. “Roger Ing’s
Utopia”-a film by Judith Silverthorne. Stephen Hall, “Utopia Café. Analysis of Season
One and Creative Plan for Season Two”, Regina: CBC, 17 April 1995.
Utopian Place Names
“Halcyonia School District No. 1237” in Our Treasured Heritage, Borden and District.
Bill Barry. People Places… Regina: CPRC, 1997, 161. Wheatfields and Wild Roses,
Briercrest and Districts, Briercrest & District Historical Society, 1987, 126-28.
Utopia Subdivision
Archer, John H. “John Neilson Lake-Founder of Saskatoon”, STF Bulletin (Sept 1947)
35-39. Real Estate Pocket Guide of the City of Saskatoon, Province of Saskatchewan.
The Standard Drafting Company, Masonic Temple, Saskatoon, Series No. 1 (1912) 107.
Twentieth Century Impressions of Canada 1914. Pierre Berton. The Promised Land.
Settling the West 1896-1914. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1984.
Guy Vanderhaeghe
The Englishman’s Boy. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1996.
Virtual Communities
Ian MacLeod. “Cyberstates Emerge.” Leader-Post (14 April 2000) C1.
Kathleen Wall
Without Benefit of Words. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 1991.
E. T. Russell ed. What's In A Name. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1975,
Worby, Earle
“My Country” in Can One Man Stand Alone?, unpublished typescript by Earle W.
Worby, 35-37.
Notes to Appendices
I Harmony Constitution
Text from a copy shared with me by Mrs. Audrey Paynter. The text is also available
in the Saskatchewan Archives.
II The Mawson plan courtesy of Saskatchewan Archives. Some minor editorial changes
have been made to correct obvious typographical errors. A few passages are not
III E. A. Partridge. “Coalsamao” from A War on Poverty: The One War That Can End
War. Winnipeg: Wallingford Press, 1925, 130-156.
IV Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Manifesto of Co-operative Commonwealth
Federation, courtesy of Saskatchewan Archives.
V Leacock, Stephen. My Discovery of the West. A Discussion of East and West in
Canada. Boston and New York: Hale, Cushman & Flint, 1937.
The bibliography of utopian literature, thought and communities, is far too large
to pretend to make a representative selection. However, the following would be helpful
to anyone interested in the subject: Roland Schaer, Gregory Claeys and Lyman Tower
Sargent's Utopia. The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World (New York:
Oxford, 2000) is the catalogue of a major exhibition on utopia held in Paris and at the
New York Public Library; Ian Tod and Michael Wheeler’s Utopia (London: Orbis
Publishing, 1978) is a history of utopianism with many fine illustrations; Frank E. and
Fritzie P. Manuel’s Utopian Thought in the Western World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1979) places utopia in context of the history of ideas from the ancient
world to the twentieth century; Lyman Tower Sargent’s British and American Utopian
Literature, 1516 – 1985 (New York: Garland, 1988 [1979]) is an extensive annotated
bibliography of utopian literature with useful definitions; Professor Toby Widdicombe
edits Utopian Studies. Journal of The Society for Utopian Studies (University of Alaska),
which contains recent scholarship on utopia; on the definition of “community” and
“intentional community” see Howard Newby’s “Community and Urban Life” in The New
Introducing Sociology, ed. Peter Worsley, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987, 239-240; and
Benjamin Zablocki’s The Joyful Community, Baltimore: Penguin, 1971, 19. Communal
Societies. Journal of the Communal Studies Association University of Southern Indiana,
Evansville), contains scholarly articles on intentional communities; W. H. G. Armytage’s
Heavens Below. Utopian Experiments in England 1560-1960 (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1961) and Robert S. Fogarty’s American Utopianism (Itasca, Ill.: F. E.
Peacock Publishers, 1972) describe communal experiments in Britain and America. The
Western coast of North America has been a favoured utopian destination. See Robert V.
Hine’s California’s Utopian Colonies, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983
[1953], and Andrew Scott’s The Promise of Paradise: Utopian Communities in B.C.,
Vancouver and Toronto: Whitecap Books, 1997.
Previous descriptions of Saskatchewan communities are found in the following
works: Norman Fergus Black. History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West.
Regina: North West Historical Company, 1913; Rasporich, A. W. “Utopian Ideals and
Community Settlements in Western Canada 1880-1914” in The Canadian West: social
change and economic development. ed. by Henry C. Klassen. Calgary: University of
Calgary, 1977; George Melnyk. “Chapter Five: The Communalist Tradition” in The
Search for Community. From Utopia to a Co-operative Society. Montréal-Buffalo:
Black Rose Books, 1985; R. Douglas Francis. “The Promised Land: The Utopian West,
1880-1920” in Images of the West. Changing Perceptions of the Prairies, 1690-1960.
Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1989. Articles on a number of colonies and
topics also appear in The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Regina; Canadian Plains
Research Centre, 2005. There are certainly other colonization efforts which have more
than a tinge of the “immigration utopia”; see for example Greater Than Kings:
Ukrainian Pioneer Settlement in Canada by Zonia Keywan with photos by Martin Coles,
Montréal: Clio Editions, 1977, 5. The utopian theme in Western Settlement is reflected
in Visions of the New Jerusalem ed. Benjamin G. Smillie, Edmonton: NeWest Press,
1983, and in Doug Owram’s Promise of Eden: The Canadian Expansionist Movement
and the Idea of the West, 1856-1900, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992 [1980].
Agricultural Visions: Barr Colony; Crazy Land; Direct Legislation; Don Baron; Deana
Driver; Grain Growers; E.A. Partridge; Ed Paynter; Will Paynter
Anglicanism: Barr Colony; Cannington Manor; Churchbridge; St. John’s College
Architecture: Père Athol Murray; Street Art; University of Regina
Aristocratopias or Gentleman’s Paradises: Cannington Manor; St. Hubert
Artists: Betty Meyers; Street Art
Barr Colony: Mary Hiemstra; Harry Pick
Cities and City Planning: Factoria; Maplecrest; Thomas Mawson; Renaissance Regina;
Urban Parks; Welwyn
Co-operative Commonwealth: Lorne Dietrick; Harmony Industrial Association; E.A.
Partridge; Ed Paynter; Will Paynter; Co-operative Commonwealth Federation; Betty
Co-operative Farms: Lorne Dietrick; Matador Farming Pool; Betty Meyers
Depression Era: Edward Bellamy; Crazy Land; Co-operative Commonwealth
Federation Regina Manifesto; Credit Unions; Little Saskatoon; W.O. Mitchell; On-ToOttawa-Trek; Sinclair Ross
Drama: Ken Mitchell
Eden: Adamites; Green Haven; Tracy Hamon; Jewish Colonists-Edenbridge; Treena
Kortje; Eli Mandel; Ed Paynter; Primitive Methodist Colony; Wallace Stegner; R.D.
Symons; Urban Parks; Utopian Place Names
Education: Père Athol Murray; St. John’s College; St. Peter’s Abbey; University of
Regina; Utopia School District
Environment: EcoLiving; Grey Owl; Trevor Herriot; Betty Meyers; R.D. Symons
Estevan: Eli Mandel
Ethnic and Religious Colonies of the Settlement Period 1880 to 1905: Barr Colony;
Bostonia Colony; Cannington Manor; Churchbridge; Doukhobors; Esterhazy Hungarian
Colony; File Hills; Harmony Industrial; Jewish Colonies; Primitive Methodist Colony;
Quakers; St. Andrews and Benbecula; St. Hubert; St. John’s College; St. Joseph’s
Colony; Temperance Colony
Fiction: Harold Bindloss; Frederick Philip Grove; Mary Hiemstra; Samuel Hofer; Clara
Hoffer; Stephen Leacock; W.O. Mitchell; E.A. Partridge; Harry Pick; Sinclair Ross
First Nations: Beth Cuthand; File Hills Colony; Louise Halfe; Piapot First Nations
Village; Street and Wall Art
Futures Studies: Doug Elliot; Oscar Seawell
Historical Sites: Barr Colony; Cannington Manor; Doukhobors; Harmony Industrial
Intentional Communities since World War II: Dietrick, Lorne; Hutterites; Marian
Centre; Matador Farming Pool; St. Peter’s Abbey
Intentional Communities – Part Time and Temporary: Green Haven Sun Club; St.
Michael’s Retreat; Virtual Communities
Jewish Experience: Credit Unions, Jewish Colonists
Literary Influences: Edward Bellamy; Aldous Huxley; Stephen Leacock
Moose Jaw: Street and Wall Art; Urban Parks
Naturism/Nudism: Adamites; Green Haven
Peace River (and Alberta) as Utopia: Robert Collins; Doug Elliott; W.O. Mitchell
Poetry: Crazy Land; Beth Cuthand; Louise Halfe; Tracy Hamon; Treena Kortje; Bruce
Rice; Anne Szumigalski; Earle Worby
Prince Albert: Urban Parks
Regina: Maplecrest; Marian Centre; Thomas Mawson; On-To-Ottawa-Trek;
Renaissance Regina; University of Regina; Utopia Café
Religious Life: Hutterites; Marian Centre; St. Peter’s Abbey
Saskatchewan’s Prospects: Introduction; Doug Elliott, Martin Pederson; Oscar
Seawell; Betty Meyers
Saskatoon: Development and Service Organizations; Factoria; Haldane Heath;
Temperance Colony; United People’s Church; Utopia Subdivision
Swift Current: Mennonites, Urban Parks
Weyburn: Deana Driver; Aldous Huxley; W.O. Mitchell
This book began as a resource for Humanities 260: Utopian Literature, Thought
and Experiment, which I have offered for a number of years at the University of Regina.
I am grateful for the help of the following, for their suggestions, conversations, or loan of
materials: Ralph Barlow of the Matador Farm Pool; Isabelle Begg, Marjorie Dunlop,
Lucy Eley, Linda Ledingham, Myrl Leyton-Brown and others at the Seniors Education
Centre; Stephen Hall, producer of “Utopia Café”; Roger Ing, former owner of the Utopia
Café; Susan Leash of St. Joseph’s Colony; Bill Brennan & Ken Leyton-Brown of the
Department of History, University of Regina; Clint White, Professor Emeritus of History
at Campion College; Jim McCrorie, Brian Mlazgar and editorial readers of the Canadian
Plains Research Centre; Leslie Polsom of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives,
University of Saskatchewan; Ron Jaremko and Ruth Miller of the Local History Room of
the Saskatoon Public Library; Ben Hofer, Darius Hofer and members of the Lajord
Hutterite Colony; Jean Thue and Everett Paynter; my brother Iain MacDonald and his
wife Barbara; my cousin Pat McCashin; Jean Johnson and Mary Stephen; Shirley Lauder;
Betty Meyers; Rick Morrell; Martin Pederson; Cheryl Ann Smith of Marian Centre;
Brent Galloway of the First Nations University of Canada; Sandra from McDonald's
Regina office; Caroline from St. Michael's Retreat House; Rosemary Courtney, Brett
Dolter and other students of Humanities 260; Ted Dobie for organizing a talk on utopia in
Saskatchewan at Lakeview United Church; Tom and Peggy Leach of the Canadian Club
for inviting me to talk on Utopia in Saskatchewan; my friends in the Regina Gyro Club
for the opportunity to give a talk; Terry Marner for inviting me to lecture on
Saskatchewan utopias in his Humanities class; Kelli Kilarski and Kelley Trenker for
contributions and suggestions; Melva Armstrong; John Matheson SJ; Oscar Seawell; my
Father and Mother-in-law John and Audrey Arthur for being the audience for a slide
show; Stephen Kenny; Doug Elliott; Robin Poitras of New Dance Horizons; Ali
McCannell; Minnie Spetalnick; Tim Novak and other staff of the Saskatchewan Archives
in Regina; Elizabeth Seitz of the University of Regina Archives; Cheryl Avery of the
University of Saskatchewan Archives; colleagues in the Society for Utopian Studies;
Dellia Pelletier and other staff at Chili for Children; my son Colin MacDonald for
photography; my mother Elena MacDonald for ideas and for help with editorial
proofreading and my father Ray MacDonald for accompanying me to various utopian
sites; Bird Films and University of Regina Photography for help with processing
illustrations; Lesley Ciciretto of Staples Business Depot; Kate Schutzman and Isabelle
Tremblay; University of Regina Printing Services for photocopying and binding of earlier
versions used for class purposes; and any others whose contribution I might have omitted
from the list. Campion College at the University of Regina has provided me with an
academic home and I wish to record very special thanks to Stacey Sallenback, of the
University of Regina Sociology and Social Studies Department for patient and expert
processing of the manuscript.