The third largest city in Saskatchewan certainly has a lot of interesting facts to share with people interested in learning about the cultural history of an area that saw European interest as early as 1692, with evidence of First Nation settlements dating back well before that.
1 – The Gateway to the North
Situated in an area that the Cree named kistahpinanihk, which translates, depending on the source to one of the following: Sitting pretty place; “a great meeting place”; or “meeting place”, you can expect to find quite a lot of historical records for travelers and settlers, with the first trading post established in 1776.
In fact, Prince Albert enjoys a somewhat privileged position as being a city that existed prior to Canada as we know it – having been founded in 1866, nearly 4 decades before the official province of Saskatchewan was formed. Named for Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert was originally a Presbyterian mission with Reverend James Nisbet arriving to oversee operations.
2- Has Influenced Politics Across the Country
While it may not come as much of a surprise that the political history for Saskatchewan is such that many have found their roots and voice in the fair prairie province. Prince Rupert, more than the rest of the area has been a point of interest that has attracted 3 Prime Ministers. Now, it should be noted that none of the three were born in Saskatchewan, but all the same the boast is very real – with Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who also happened to earn the status of being the first French Canadian Prime Minister, winning the Saskatchewan riding in 1896, a decade before the province’s official status was declared.
William Lyon Mackenzie King, captured the seat in Prince Albert in 1926 and held it for almost 2 decades. John Diefenbaker was the first elected to represent Prince Albert in its riding in 1953, and would continue to hold the position until his death in 1979.
3 – Was Nearly Rendered Bankrupt
Now, it’s easy enough to be on board with the idea of natural power, especially these days, but it pays to remember that steps towards such innovation have had their own series of setbacks and complications. Prince Albert happens to be a prime example of what can happen if development is handled improperly and ineffectively – with specific finger pointing at the La Colle Falls project that had expected to acquire inexpensive electric power and attract industry to the area.
Construction began in 1909 and would be abandoned almost as quickly in 1913 as a direct result of financial complications and technical difficulties. At $3 million dollars in 1909 as translated by the Bank of Canada we arrive at a figure of close to $63 million dollars – which certainly explains the stress placed on local economies. This was further exacerbated by construction of the national railway which travelled through the lower reaches of the province and, effectively, cut off Prince Albert. Now, over a century later, debate rages in Prince Albert in respect to ways to adopt the still-standing and incomplete structure of the dam – with many leaning towards the notion of creating a spa.
4 – Home to Saskatchewan’s First Freemason Lodge
Local Freemasons came together in 1879 to found the first lodge, known as Kinistino Lodge No. 1, and, as long ago as it may see, is still an active member of the community. Now, back in the 19th century and prior to the population boom there were a number of settlements in the area that would join together to form the boundaries of modern-day Prince Albert. Included on this list were: “The Mission”, which was located centrally as well as “Porter Town” – they would enjoy autonomy until amalgamation efforts in the early 20th century fused them together.