I was glad to hear the remarks of the hon. member for Cumberland, Mr. Chairman, when he was speaking about some of the methods by which human history is recorded. We have in our province, and it happens to be in my city, a unique experiment in that type of thing. Man's history, of course, has been written in books, written on stone and by various other methods, but I think this one is perhaps unique.
I was interested, too, in the statement by the minister that, so far as he and his department are concerned, they would be pleased to give assistance to various types of museums throughout the country. It is on that statement that I base my hope the particular museum in which I am interested will receive some assistance.
I think perhaps the history of western Canada from the period of 1890 onwards has been largely neglected by historians. I am thinking of the geographical area when I refer to western Canada, and it has been neglected from the point of view of writings. I suppose it is because the people were pioneers and they had to concern themselves with other things, so they did not have time to write their history in books even though they were writing it without knowing it by another method.
There have been one or two books written. I might refer, for example, to the biography of my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture, as one of the books that has been written which throws some light on the period. I have criticized that biography, not because the Minister of Agriculture is not a picturesque character and typical of that part of history, but because I do not think it is much of a job, as a book. The last time I suggested that, the minister said I might
write a better one myself. I pleaded guilty to the ability, but not to having the time.
Now, to come to the meat of my subject; the thing to which I referred is a museum called the "Pion-Era" museum in the city of Saskatoon. The Minister of Agriculture, who I see is in his seat, knows as much about it or perhaps more than I do. It is unique. It is the history of Saskatchewan for the last 70 or 80 years written in the agricultural implements of the country. I visited it and I was amazed at the educational value of that project. I was amazed at the different attitude or the different way in which people approached that project. It was different from their approach to the ordinary exhibition with its midways and ballyhoo. I saw family after family, wives and children, who were there for the particular reason of educating themselves in the recent and not so recent past of their province. This project started as a very small museum to which people were invited to bring or send old buggies, old threshing machines, old red river carts. There is even an ancient hearse there which reminds us that man after all is mortal, but it is the implements that draw the attention.
You can read the history, step by step, of those earlier pioneers of Saskatchewan from the days when they came west from Ontario, bringing with them things like treadmills for the purpose of threshing grain, treadmills by which water was lifted from wells by the action of a dog running around a wheel, and so on. You can see what has been done by the efforts of a number of men, and I pay tribute to Mr. J. L. Phelps and to the curator, Mr. Shepherd, who has been invaluable in that organization.
They have built up a tremendous thing there. It is sitting on a piece of land which is the property of the organization. I think it is 70 acres in extent. They have a very large covered building which protects those implements. They have a staff of workers, carpenters and the like, who repair those ancient implements that are sent in. There you can see the various means of seeding, the various means of threshing, the development of modern farming all up through the years. That is the museum itself.
In recent years the people there, and 1 think rightly so, have expanded it into an exhibition of sorts. It is not at all for the purpose of making money; it is merely so those old pioneers may come there and bring their children and their grandchildren and show them the conditions under which the pioneers lived and the implements with which they worked in those early days.
They have reconstructed to some extent the life of the prairie homesteader, and for four or five days one can see those activities not 82715-100
Northern Affairs and National Resources simply in imaginary form but in actual fact. Perhaps the minister has attended on one of those days. I have no doubt he has and he would have seen, as I have, oxen-particularly trained for the purpose, because we now have no oxen in Saskatchewan-hauling the plows as in those former days. It brought me back to my own homestead days of four-on teams hooked up to a 14-inch breaking plow, and those big Reeves steam engines hauling 12 or 14 plough bottoms just as they were on the prairies in those days.
My plea is that this sort of thing should have some support. That sort of thing is the book which has not been written but which is in the process of being written, except that instead of pages and words, there are being used the implements showing the actual conditions under which people worked. A part of this particular show consisted of a sod house. You had the people there, the ladies dressed in the costumes of away back in the 1890's, carrying on their daily work.
As to the financial end of the project, it has always been a marvel to me how it has been supported. I appealed to the minister three or four years ago. I told him about it. I hoped that if he were ever passing through my city he would call in and see it. I do not believe he did, but perhaps I am doing him an injustice. If he did not, I would urge him to consult the Minister of Agriculture, and if the Minister of Agriculture could persuade him to go, that would please me greatly.
Now, as to the financial side, this sort of thing costs a lot of money. It is true that they charge entry fees on these days every summer. They have turned it into a sort of second Saskatoon agricultural exhibition with, as I say, purely educational and historical features rather than the usual commercial sort of thing that we have come to think of in exhibitions. In spite of their care and good management they have been going behind financially on this show, and I would like to set forth its requirements. I hold in my hand a letter from the secretary which arrived providentially on this very day. I had no idea that they were now organizing the matter, but they find themselves short of money and they think that they can qualify for both provincial and dominion grants.
This letter was written to me by Mr. Le-Beau, who has no idea that I am going to use it or that I might raise the question. I think it is a circular letter that has been sent to many friends of the organization. It states that the committee in charge are prepared to go ahead and stage their "Pion-Era" in 1957 if a reserve fund of $25,000 can be secured to underwrite it for this first year
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Northern Affairs and National Resources and to make some additional capital improvements. The letter goes on to say:
We have been assured that il 50 per cent of these funds can be raised in Saskatoon and surrounding districts, that the provincial and federal governments will make matching grants and thereafter an annual grant to continue "Pion-Era" as an annual event.
According to this letter it would seem that the condition for such assistance from the two governments mentioned would be the raising of a considerable sum of money on the part of private citizens themselves, and I fancy it was in that connection that the secretary wrote to me in the hope that I would be prepared to give a subscription to that particular fund. But I do urge upon the government and the minister the necessity of looking into this thing to see if it is not a tremendously worth-while project, in that it is the picture of human history so far as Saskatchewan is concerned.
After all, Saskatchewan until now has always been primarily an agricultural province, and the history of Saskatchewan therefore must need be the history of an agricultural people. Until the time comes when some author will blossom out and write a substantial and dependable work upon that province and its pioneers I think this museum and yearly exhibition provide the very best history of the province that we have.
This particular exhibition, if one can call it that, is becoming internationally known, certainly in some fields and in some directions. I should put the name of the organization on record. It is the western development museum in Saskatoon. John Fisher, executive secretary of the Canadian Tourist Association, said on his recent visit to Saskatchewan that some day the exhibition may well rival the famed Calgary stampede as a tourist attraction, and I heartily agree. Quite frankly, I am not so interested in whether or not it becomes a tourist attraction. What I am interested in is that this history of my province may be made permanent through some well-deserved public assistance.
I could go on, but I think I have made my point. I would urge the minister to give it some consideration.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL RESOURCES ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TWO NATIONAL MUSEUMS