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Origin of Boomtown Volunteers Association

When the new building for the Saskatoon Branch of the Western Development Museum was opened at 2610 Lorne Avenue in 1972, manager Gordon Wilson asked a group of senior citizens who had worked at the previous site on 11th Street to organize an association of volunteers to advise and assist in developing a living history of Saskatchewan.

A more formal set of objectives was soon adopted. This new organization was to promote, develop, operate and maintain volunteers for the WDM for the recreation, education, and historic interest of all the residents of, and visitors to, the city of Saskatoon and area. It was further to perform all matters and acts as deemed necessary to the attainment of the foregoing objectives, including payment of honorariums to employees, and expenses to members as set by the membership.

Christmas Party Year: 1984 Place Name: Saskatoon Harry Giles introducing Bert Buckle for his recitation at the 1984 Christmas Party

Christmas Party
Year: 1984
Place Name: Saskatoon
Harry Giles introducing Bert Buckle for his recitation at the 1984 Christmas Party

At about this time, the Department of National Health and Welfare announced a New Horizons Grants program to promote the well-being of senior citizens. These grants played a big part in the activities of the Boomtown VolunteerAssociation.

At a meeting held February 7,1973 a board of directors was appointed as follows:

President: Charles McCoy

Secretary; Frank McGibney

Directors: William Semple, Gordon Alexander, Wes Hamilton, Roy Miller, Ruth Macintosh, and Jack Wright

The following people became charter members: Gordon Alexander, Evan Battel, Charlie Blake, Reuben Briscoe, Bert Buckle, J.C. Buckle, Douglas Charles, Sanford Clark. Merle Darroch, George Firman, Wes Hamilton, Ellen LaBorde, Fred Leigh, Don Lipsitt, Dave Loewen, Helen Loewen, William Martyn, Charlie McCoy, Otto McDonald, Frank McGibney, Isobel McGibney, Ruth Mclntosh, Edith McLeod, Roy Miller, Ralph Morris, Howard New, Lottie New, Bert O’Hara, Marie O’Hara, Bill Patterson, John Pott, Muriel Pratt, Bill Semple, Carrie Stayner, Weldon Stayner, Cleo Taylor, Lilly Tokaryk, Harvet Wallace, Dave Williamson and Jack Wright.

One of the first activities was to conduct school tours of the museum. Tour guides helped identify the artifacts on display. The guides dressed in authentic pioneer costumes: the men with vest, suspenders and arm bands, the ladies with long dresses and aprons. What a difference this made! Now Boomtown looked more authentic.

Over the years, the following people have served as president:

1973 – 78 Charles McCoy
1979 – 83 Frank Turcotte
1984 – 85 Harry Giles
1986 – 87 Aubrey Johnson
1988 – 89 Harvey Wallace
1990 – 91 Andy Waruk
1992 – 93 Harry Giles
1994 – 95 Harold Harnett
1996 – 97 Dale Spearing
1998 – 2000 Ennis Waldner
2001 – 02 Shirley Major
2003 Ruben Peters

The first regular meeting of the Boomtown New Horizons Association took place May 1,1973 with Charlie McCoy as president and Charlie Blake as secretary-treasurer. September saw the arrival of one-half of the grant requested. A bank account was opened in the west side branch of the Bank of Montreal. In October, David Loewen was hired as administrative secretary. This salaried position continued until December 1977. New Horizon grants as well financial support from the Government of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon assured the continuity of this organization.

Tours of the Museum gained in popularity. As the years progressed, the tours, with Boomtown volunteers as guides, became more frequent for schoolchildren as well as foreign students and tourists. Guests to the many conventions accommodated in Saskatchewan Hall were invited to tour the museum as well. Some of the events that became annual affairs are the PionEra show, Folkfest, hobby shows, flea markets, art shows, as well as a doll show . At Christmastime a program called the Festival of Trees runs for a week. Again the volunteers act as guides and interpreters.

For many years Boomtown volunteers have taken on security and general interpreting duties every Sunday afternoon.

Working the Bar Year: 1988 Place Name: Saskatoon Working the bar: Loretta Wallace, Andy Balogh, Jack Smith, Scotty Brown, Gladys Smith, Ezra Potts

Working the Bar
Year: 1988
Place Name: Saskatoon
Working the bar: Loretta Wallace, Andy Balogh, Jack Smith, Scotty Brown, Gladys Smith, Ezra Potts

The bar, operated by volunteers, was a major fund raiser for the museum. In the late eighties or early nineties the museum staff took over the operation of the bar. Since this source of income now became available directly to the Museum, the Boomtown Volunteers Association is no longer involved in purchasing equipment for the Museum. Fundraising for the Boomtown Volunteers Association is now limited to membership fees, flea markets and the occasional raffle.

The list of artifacts that have been restored by the Boomtown Volunteers Association is extensive. It includes maintenance of equipment used in threshing demonstrations, complete restoration of a Model T Ford, Model A Ford, 1928 Chevrolet, and a 1927 Whippet. The workshop is equipped for wood working, machining, painting and repairing of chairs, tables, etc.

Other projects and improvements to the Museum done by the Boomtown Volunteers Association are the construction of round tables for the banquet area, wainscoting the walls, and construction of an elevator for staff use as well as for handicapped visitors to the Museum. A 40 outlet public address system was installed, the cafeteria was restored to original appearance, the education room equipped, and the Eaton’s Once Upon a Time Christmas display maintained. The livery barn with a team of horses inside was constructed as well an ox to pull a 1885 reaper. The blacksmith shop was provided with an indoor safety chimney and the photo studio was set up.

Building horses Year: 1988 Place Name: Saskatoon Dalton Hannah building horses for livery barn display 1988 Summer Show

Building horses
Year: 1988
Place Name: Saskatoon
Dalton Hannah building horses for livery barn display 1988
Summer Show

Thousands of dollars have been raised by the Boomtown Volunteers Association to pay for renovations, new projects and additions. Two large contributions were $5,000 towards a new boiler for a steam engine and $18,000 to upgrade the education room. Over the years contributions of various Boomtown Volunteers Association projects have exceeded $65,000.

Pioneer Days, Saskachimo. Harvest Fest and PionEra

During the years 1972-1988 the Western Development Museum, under the umbrella of the Saskatoon Exhibition, put on a week long summer show. Volunteers appeared in period costume on the street and in the buildings of Boomtown.

Boomtowners worked with the Threshermens’ Club in field events such as saw mill operations. They operated some of the old tractors and steam engines. The WDM and Saskatoon Exhibition combined show was named Pioneer Days. Later it was changed to Saskachimo. To begin Saskachimo week in 1981, the membership dressed in their pioneer outfits for a Sunday brunch held in the Bessborough Hotel gardens.

Boomtowners manned the Mini Bus and horse drawn vehicles, moving people between the Museum and the Exhibition grounds. They worked with the Women’s Auxiliary, preparing and serving meals, craft work and demonstrations such as butter and ice cream making. They helped in front of the Museum making popcorn, corn on the cob, pioneer tea, hamburgers and hot dogs.

In 1989 the union with the Exhibition came to an end. The Western Development Museum decided to put on its own two day event known as Harvest Fest. The name has since been changed to PionEra, the original name of the Museum summer time show. Many “old time” Boomtown members were happy with this change. Now they were again playing an integral part in this annual event.


From 1982 to 1990 the WDM was part of Folkfest, an annual three day celebration of Saskatoon’s multi cultural heritage. The Pioneer Pavilion was a tribute to the pioneers of Saskatchewan and their achievements. Weeks prior to Folkfest Boomtowners worked with the Women’s Auxiliary, baking the piles of home made bread, bannock and cakes to be served as the hearty pioneer fare. Some Boomtowners purchased and hauled cartons of liquor, soft drinks and ice and all that sort of “stuff”.

At the Pioneer Pavilion Boomtowners in period costume were in the stores and buildings on Boomtown Street. They assisted in the food service, helped slice the many loves of bread, manned the Mini Bus and horse drawn vehicles providing transportation between the Pioneer Pavilion and the other three pavilions on the Exhibition grounds.

In the evening they operated a very busy bar while a “hoe-down” orchestra provided dance music. The Pioneer Pavilion closed at midnight. In the wee hours of the morning the volunteers tidied up, washed glasses and ordered stock for the next day. A late night ended a very long day. It was a lot of hard work, but mixed in with the hard work were lots of comic events, laughs and camaraderie. Eventually it became just too big an undertaking for a group of senior volunteers.

Later the Museum participated in Folk Fest as a rental property for other pavilions. Those hard working volunteers could now attend as paying guests to enjoy the celebration.

Boomtown Volunteers Association Social Life and Activities

Members of the Boomtown Volunteers Association, used to take bus tours to museums such as the Tyrrell museum in the Drumheller region and the Moose Jaw Western Development Museum. Other trips were to the Cory Potash mine, as well as a visit to Minot, North Dakota.

At the Saskatoon Western Development Museum we held fun nights, pot luck meals, work projects and old time demonstrations. Music at dances was provided by local bands or association members. The most common instruments were the fiddle, guitar, and banjo. At one time there was even a band of five harmonica players.

Fun evenings were held on Hallowe’en, at wind-up parties after threshing demonstrations, and on volunteer appreciation nights. One of the highlights of the St. Patrick’s day celebration was Charlie McCoy in his green hat and tie serving his version of Irish Coffee. Charlie took great pride in his Irish background. Before the museum had its liquor license, the club would obtain a permit to serve drinks for special occasions.

On games night Shuffle Board, Bean Bag Toss, Carpet Bowling, 21 or Bust and Darts were enjoyed by all. Prizes were awarded for the highest score and lowest scores.

In 1974 the club had its first float in the annual Travelers Day Parade. In 1983 a mini bus load of members dressed in pioneer outfits participated in the opening of the new 42nd street bridge. The Grade Three Christmas program begun in 1980 continues to this day. Several club members participated in the Colony Trek in 1982, driving covered wagons, buggies and riding horse back. Dalton Hannah drove a team of mules.

The assembly, preparation and mailing of the Curatorial Centre newsletter “Sparks off the Anvil” was started in 1977. Starting in 1981, a chicken plucking contest involving city council, local business people and the media was held two or three times.

Construction of the volunteer centre started March 10,1981. The official opening took place May 23,1982. The members built the two horses in the livery barn. The head of Prince, one of the horses, contains a time capsule with the names of the people who made the horse, a copy of the local daily Star Phoenix, and some coins and paper money. A group picture of all the members taken in May 1982 was placed in a time capsule located in the park just north of the Bessborough Hotel. This capsule is to be opened in 2082.

Every year members who have reached their eightieth birthday are recognized with a life time membership. Their names are placed on a plaque in the volunteer centre.

Monthly meetings are held in the volunteer centre where the business of the day is discussed. This is followed by entertainment and a lunch courtesy of the membership. The social life and activities of the Boomtown Volunteers continue to this day.

Threshing Demonstrations:

In 1976, the Boomtown Volunteers Association held its first two day School Harvesting Demonstration with a total attendance of 1,500 Grade Four pupils. This was so successful that the School and Museum Boards suggested it be continued and expanded to a four day program. Later it was decided to move the time from spring to fall to better accommodate the academic year.

At first mostly Saskatoon and area schools attended. Soon schools from all over the province came to the event.

Since the Grade Four Threshing Demonstration requires a lot of manpower to operate, the Boomtown Volunteers Association has been joined by the Pioneer Threshermen’s Club, the Pleasure Drivers’ Club and the Women’s Auxiliary.

Boomtown bus giving free rides at the annual summer show in 1989 Grade Four Threshing Year: 1995 Place Name: Saskatoon Threshing demonstration set up for grade four students in fall of 1995

Boomtown bus giving free rides at the annual summer show in 1989
Grade Four Threshing
Year: 1995
Place Name: Saskatoon
Threshing demonstration set up for grade four students in fall of 1995

Weather has always been an important factor. The show has rarely been canceled, but has had to be postponed due to inclement weather. Weather has ranged from nice and sunny to cold and windy, as well as rain and snow.

Seating was always a challenge. The donation of the bleachers used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games solved the problem until 2002, when they had deteriorated to the extent that they were no longer safe. In 2003 the bleachers were repaired and replaced as needed.

The format of the program has undergone very little change from the original. Included in the program are:

  1. Introduction:
  2. A brief introduction to harvesting.
  3. The evolution of harvest tools and methods.
  4. Cutting the grain:
  5. Sickle
  6. Scythe
  7. Cradle
  8. Reaper
  9. Binding sheaves by hand.
  10. Binder
  11. Stooking
  12. Bundle wagons.

III. Threshing:

  1. Trampling by animals
  2. Beating stick
  3. Flail
  4. Winnowing
  5. Groundhog
  6. Separator
  7. Power sources
  8. Steam and gasoline engines.
  9. Small engines
  10. Diesel and rubber tires.
  11. Today’s farming:
  12. Modern tractor
  13. Modern Combine

Today an average of 3,500 Grade Four pupils enjoy these annual demonstrations. The favorite part of the entire demonstration seems to be the horses. This show will most surely carry on well into the future.

Grade 4 Threshing at Saskatoon WDM

Grade 4 Threshing at Saskatoon WDM

Members of the Boomtown Volunteers Association from its beginning; year indicates when the person joined the organization.

Adam, Florence 1976
Adam,Wilbur 1974
Aitcheson, Bill 1979
Alexander, Gordon 1973
Alexander, Jim 1974
Anderson, Bernard 1975
Anderson, Marion 1990
Anderson, Oscar 1990
Andrews, Rod 2011
Antonichuk, Mrs. M. 1974
Balogh, Andrew 1974
Banting, Tom 1975
Barr, Bob 1991
Barr, Helen 1991
Barton, Doug 1979
Battel, Evan 1973
Battel, Helen 1974
Baushill, Dorothy 1986
Beckman, Bob 1974
Beckman, Mrs. E. R. 1977
Bennet, Dorothy 2012
Bentham, Florence 1989
Bentham, Joe 1989
Bentley, Frances 1980
Bentley, Mike 1980
Bergen, Daphne 2003
Berkner, M. R. 1974
Berkner, Mrs. M. R. 1974
Bezzant, Dennis 1987
Bezzant, Edna 1988
Biddulph, Ern l995
Bileski, Rose 1975
Blake, Charles 1973
Blake, Tillie 1981
Boechler, Marilyn 1991
Bos, Jenny 2011
Boucher, Victoria 2008
Bourassa, Henry 1974
Boushill, Dorothy 1986
Boyle, Orville 1979
Brawn, Newton 1978
Brewer, Betty 1998
Brewer, Chuck 2006
Briscoe, Ruben 1973
Brock, Beatrice 1999
Brock, Clayton 1999
Brotheridge, Jack 1974
Brown, Chrystal 2008
Brown, Newton 1978
Brown, Scotty 1974
Brown, Tom 1984
Brown, William 1974
Buckle, Bert 1973
Buckle, John 1973
Buckle, May 1974
Burrows, Marg 2004
Carlson, Herb 1977
Carpenter, Edward 1981
Carpenter, Lillian 1981
Carson, Paul 1998
Charles, Douglas 1973
Charles, Olga 1978
Christensen, Mrs. M 1977
Clark, Archie 1993
Clark, Sanford 1973
Cliff, Murray 2002
Cliff, Sheila 2002
Coleman, Gordon 1980
Coleman, Vi 1980
Copeland.William 1992
Coquet, John 1999
Coutts, Emily 2003
Coutts, Emily 2003
Creelman, Joyce 2010
Creelman, Maurice 2012
Cripps, Mrs. W, 1976
Cripps, William 1974
Cushway, Jean 1984
Cushway, Roy 1984
Dandurand, Maurice 1998
Darroch, Dorothy 1978
Darroch, Merle 1973
Deckman, Bob 1974
Docking, Edwin 1984
Doherty, Allen 1974
Doherty, Ruby 1976
Don, Norman 1988
Doolittle, Gertie 2001
Douds, Bob 1974
Driedger, Jack 1988
Dunlap, George 1975
Eamer, G. D. 1974
Edwards, Jean 1974
Entwistle, J 1974
Fallis, Q.H. 1974
Ferre, Tony 1995
Fields, Allan 1986
Finley, James 1995
Firman, George 1973
Firman, Rita 1976
Foster, W.D. 1975
Froom, Doreen 2010
Gibbon, Drucilla 1975
Gibbon, Walter 1975
Gibson, Dorothy 1985
Gibson, William 1985
Giles, Harry 1980
Graham, Ruth 2001
Grasby, Alice 1987
Gray, Alice 2007
Greig, Alexander 1988
Greig, Eva 1993
Grey, E.M. 1975
Grey, R.T. 1975
Hamilton, Beth 2000
Hamilton, Kay 2011
Hamilton, Wes 1973
Hannah, Dalton 1974
Hannah, Luella 1976
Harder, Barney 1979
Harder, Bernard 1976
Hardie, Berna 1984
Hardie, James 1984
Hardy, Bert 1984
Hardy, Hazel 1985
Harnett, Harold 1989
Harris, Darlene 1989
Hart, Celia 1974
Hartsook, Lou l979
Henderson, Flora 1975
Hicks, Stan 1977
Hiebert, Helen 1982
Hiebert, Paul 1980
Hill, Francea 1975
Hopkins, R.T. 1974
Hornseth, Roy 1991
Hunter, M.B. 1974
Hutchinson, Elsie 2010
Hutchinson, Norm 2007
Huyghebaert, Delvyn 1999
Johnson, Aubrey 1981
Johnson, Betty 1981
Johnson, Herman 1986
Jones, Mrs. Watkin 1974
Jones, Rubena 2003
Kabaroff, Violet 1975
Kanigan, Nick 1991
Keene, Dorothy 2010
Kernan, Gerry 1977
Kernan, Reta 1982
Keyser, George 1992
Kinask, Julian 2010
Klassen, Ann 1975
Klatt, David 2006
Klatt,Reinhard l976
Klym, Doris 2009
Koopman, Betty 1990
Koopman, Harry 1990
Korol, Ella 2006
Korol, Mike 1989
Korven, Hans 1987
Krett, Audrey 1987
Kripki, Mary 1987
Kripki, Zenith 1986
LaBorde, Ellen 1973
Lambert, Eileen 2009
Landa, Harry 1980
Lang, J. 1977
Lang, Jake 1976
Lang, Tina 1974
Langenfurth, Lee 2003
Lappi, Len 2008
LaRue, Olga 1977
Laturnus, Gladys 1989
Laturnus, Joe 1989
Leigh, Fred 1973
Lewis, Grace 1974
Lindberg, Bob 1989
Lindberg, Jean 1989
Lindgren, Agnes 1979
Lindgren, Carl 1979
Lipsitt, Donald 1973
Loewen, Dave 1973
Loewen, Helen 1973
MacIntosh, Ruth 1973
Mackie, Jack 1975
Magera, Drazella 2001
Major, Shirley 1995
Makulowich, Mike 1986
Mantie, Albert 1974
Marken, Norman 1974
Martin, Harry 1981
Martyn, Bill 1973
Martyn, Mrs. B 1978
McCloy, Tom 2008
McConnel, Lillian 1983
McConnell, Brian 2006
McConnell, Connie 2007
McCoy, Charlie 1973
McDonald, Hedley 1974
McDonald, James 1983
McDonald, Otto 1973
McDonald, W.W 1987
McGibney, Frank 1973
McGibney, Isobel 1973
McKenzie, Don 1979
McLeary, Doug 2010
McLeary, Marilyn 2010
McLeod, Edith 1973
McMillan, Arnold 1977
McMillan, Mrs. Bobby 1974
McRae, Jim 1995
Mearns, Douglas 1991
Mearns, Lorna 1991
Meston, Vern 1974
Millar, Lydia 1992
Miller, Roy 1973
Mitchell, Harold 1974
Mitchell,Vera l974
Morden, Charles 1990
Morris, Grace 1974
Morris, Mrs. S.T. 1975
Morris, Ralph 1973
Morris, Stan 1974
Muirhead, Leslie 1995
Munro, James 1975
Murias, Dorothy 2006
Murphy, Carol 2010
Murray, Ken 2001
Nein, Gertrude 1990
Nein, William 1987
New, Howard 1973
New, Lottie 1973
Newman, Jack 1992
Niebergall, Dianna 2003
Nordstrom, Frieda 1986
O’Hara, Bert 1973
O’Hara, Marie 1973
Olson, Jack 1995
Parkinson, Clliff 2010
Parkinson, Mary Anne 2011
Patterson, Bill 1973
Pattison, LA. 1986
Pattison, Pat 1991
Pauli, Fred 1975
Pauli, Loretta 1976
Penny, Raymond 1995
Perrey, Alma 1979
Perrey, Leon 1974
Peters, Elma 1994
Peters, Louis 1979
Peters, Mary 2008
Peters, Ruben 1998
Pidsosny, Steve 1997
Pirie, Cyril 1974
Pogerson, Dorothy 1974
Pott, John 1973
Potts, Ezra 1979
Pratt, Muriel 1973
Primeau, George 1976
Rashley, Margo 2007
Rayner, Elsie 1993
Remenda, Nelson 1999
Repin, William 1993
Richards, Len 1978
Richards, Winnie 1981
Roberts, Agnes 1976
Roberts, Drusilla 1976
Roberts, William 1975
Rogers, Earl 1980
Rogerson, Alen 1974
Rogerson, Dorothy 1974
Rushinko, John 1974
Sabo, Joyce 2012
Sansom, Chas 1981
Sansom, Doreen 1981
Schepens, Lee 1981
Schepens, Ray 1981
Scott, Jack 1981
Scrimgeour, Isabel 1975
Semple, Norma 1974
Semple, William 1973
Senger, Pius 1994
Sexsmith, Eileen, 1975
Shalansky, William 1975
Shepherd, George 1974
Shrader, Lois 2010
Simon, Janet 1983
Smith, Gladys 1985
Smith, Jack 1985
Smith, Kenneth 1995
Smith, Les 1975
Smith, Nina 1995
Sowter,Adele l995
Spearing, Dale 1993
Speers, Phyllis 1974
Speidel, Ralph 1983
Stayner, Carrie 1973
Stayner, Weldon 1973
Stephen, Art 1975
Stevenson, Lloyd 1974
Storey, Arnold 1976
Storey, Chris 1978
Strange, Frank 1985
Strelioff, Clara 2003
Strobel, Robert 1990
Sullivan, Jane 2011
Swaney, Norm 1994
Symynuk, Clayton 1996
Taylor, Cleo 1973
Taylor, Ethel 1975
Taylor, John 1984
Taylor, Maurice 1980
Thain, Joe 1975
Thain, Mrs. Joe 1975
Theilman, Laura 1983
Theoret, Ted 2002
Thomson, ? 1975
Thon, Carlyle 1974
Thon, Mrs. Carlyle 1974
Thue, Bernie 1977
Thue, Olive 1977
Till, Francis 1976
Toews, Ben 1974
Toews, Mabel 1976
Tokaryk, Lily 1973
Tullis, Gerry 2004
Turcotte, Florence 1975
Turcotte, Frank 1975
Ulrich, Otto 1986
Utigard, Elmer 1988
Vessey, Art 1993
Vessey, Dorothy 1993
Veszeli, Karen 2004
Veszeli, Steve 2007
Waldner, Alex l990
Waldner, Ennis 1990
Wall, Abe 1995
Wallace, Harvery 1973
Wallace, Loretta 1974
Walls, Dorothy 1974
Waruk, Andy 1978
Waruk, Joyce 1978
Wasson, James 1975
Watson, Ethel 1975
Watson, Ronald 2001
Wegren, John 1975
Wegren, Peggy 1975
Westfield, Charles 1974
Westwood, J.H. 1975
Wheaton, Cec 1979
Wheeler, Ed 1974
Wice. Ken 2010
Wiens, John 1981
Williamson, David 1973
Winter, Martin 1995
Wolfe, Bill 1995
Wolfe, Iris 1995
Woo, Elizabeth 2010
Woodard, W.D. 1975
Wright, Jack 1973
Wright, Mrs. Jack 1974
Zeman, Joe 1981
Zmud, Linda 2005