Skip to main content
At Work: Historical Images of Labour in Saskatchewan

At Work: Historical Images of
Labour in Saskatchewan

 
University of Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan

Jerry White - Facilities Management, April 2001
Jerry White - Facilities Management, April 2001

The University of Saskatchewan was established by an act of the provincial legislature in 1907. The first classes began in 1909 with a registration of 70 students. These initial classes were held in the Drinkle Building in downtown Saskatoon.

In the spring of 1910 construction started on the new campus on a site overlooking the east slope of the South Saskatchewan River. From the beginning there was a desire to build an impressive and handsome institution; the principal buildings were built in the Collegiate Gothic style using native limestone (greystone) quarried just north of the campus. Somewhat later Tyndall stone from Manitoba became another preferred building material. The loyalty to this initial vision has provided employment for many stone masons for over a century.

Stone Masons at the U of S, [ca. 1910]
Stone Masons at the U of S, [ca. 1910]

At the laying of the cornerstone of the College Building in 1910 Saskatchewan's first premier Walter Scott said, "Saskatchewan is essentially an agriculture province... It is in keeping with the character of the province that the main part of the highest institution of learning shall be an agricultural college." In 2010 the University is a far larger and more complex organization, comprised of 13 colleges proper, and numerous affiliated theological colleges, institutes and research centres.

The University of Saskatchewan presently hosts students from all over the world. During the 2008-09 academic year, 14,586 students were enrolled full-time and another 3,832 were enrolled part-time.[1] The faculty and other teaching and research staff is supported by over 2,800 non academic employees who work in an enormous range of jobs. The University of Saskatchewan has long been one of the largest and most stable providers of work in the city and the province.

Power House - Interior, [ca. 1920]
Power House - Interior, [ca. 1920]

Among the many occupations represented in the non academic staff are tradesmen of all sorts; cleaners and indoor and outdoor maintenance workers; laboratory and information technicians; secretaries, clerks and library staff; bookstore and post office staff; and special constables who provide security across the campus.

The longstanding commitment to agricultural education and research has required the employment of many fieldsmen, horticulturalists and those experienced in animal husbandry.

Many staff are employed to care to the physical needs of the on-campus community. Resident housing on campus has long been available and currently accommodates about 1,500 students. Food service has been provided for both resident and nonresident students. There are at present 10 cafeterias on campus, in addition to the outlets operated by non-university companies.

Carpentry Workshop in the <br/>Original Engineering building, [1920?]
Carpentry Workshop in the
Original Engineering building, [1920?]

The University of Saskatchewan Archives, established in 1970, documents and preserves the records of the University. Quite naturally the collection contains an abundance of images of administrators and prominent faculty (often posed at public events) and of the student body at work and at leisure. Unfortunately images of the non academic or support staff are uncommon in the archive's visual record. Tradesmen do however appear frequently in the visuals documenting the construction of new campus buildings. The photograph archive of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix held by the Saskatchewan Archives Board contains only a few images of university workers, most detailing union lead demonstrations during labour negotiations and a strike of the non academic staff in 1974.

Footnotes

↑ [1] U of S Facts & Figures. Accessed April 16, 2010.


Field Crops - Harvesting Carrots, [ca.1920]
Field Crops - Harvesting Carrots, [ca.1920]
Dairy and Food Laboratory, [1929 or 1930]
Dairy and Food Laboratory, [1929 or 1930]
Emma Lake Art Camp Dining Room, 1964
Emma Lake Art Camp Dining Room, 1964
Waiters at the Residence Dining Hall, [ca. 1920]
Waiters at the Residence Dining Hall, [ca. 1920]
Employees Demonstrating During <br />Negotiations, 13 June 1978
Employees Demonstrating During
Negotiations, 13 June 1978
 
The experience of the race shows that we get our most important education not through books but through our work. We are developed by our daily task, or else demoralized by it, as by nothing else.
Anna Garlin Spencer ~ American feminist and author (1851—1931)