Origin of the Name
Saskatchewan was originally inhabited by First Nations of the Athapaskan, Algonquian and Siouan linguistic groups. Three Athapaskan nations lived in the north: the Chipewyan, the Beaver and the Slavey. Two Algonquian nations — the Cree and the Blackfoot — occupied the central part of the province. The south was inhabited predominantly by the Siouan nations — the Assiniboine and the Gros Ventres. The influence of Aboriginal peoples in Saskatchewan is evident from the great variety of Aboriginal place names across the province.
Both Britain and the Province of Canada sent expeditions in the mid-1800s to explore the area and assess its agricultural potential. The Dominion Lands Act of 1872, combined with legislation to stimulate immigration, strongly encouraged homesteaders in Saskatchewan. In the 1880s, the newly constructed Canadian Pacific Railway brought settlers to farm the rich land. A great wave of immigration from Eastern Europe swept across the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1905, the Province of Saskatchewan was formed by joining parts of the districts of Saskatchewan, Athabaska and Assiniboia. It became the only province with boundaries not based on any particular geographical features. Saskatchewan and its neighbouring province of Alberta also share the distinction of being the only Canadian provinces that are not bordered by salt water.
Agriculture, particularly wheat and other cereal crops, but also oilseeds and livestock, continues to be the mainstay of the Saskatchewan economy. The province has 40 percent of Canada's farmland and produces 60 percent of the country's wheat. However, the economy is increasingly diversified thanks to the wealth of mineral resources: Saskatchewan has half the world's potash reserves, Canada's largest heavy oil reserves, coal, gold, and rich uranium deposits. The one million inhabitants of Saskatchewan, about 3.3 percent of Canada's population, reflect the ethnic diversity of Aboriginal, British, German, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, French and other peoples. The largest city is Saskatoon, which has a population of 219,000. Regina, the seat of government, has a population of 193,000.
Coat of Arms
Saskatchewan's shield of arms was granted in 1906 by King Edward VII. The crest, supporters and motto were granted in 1986 by Queen Elizabeth II.
The shield is supported by a royal lion and a white-tailed deer, an animal indigenous to Saskatchewan. Both supporters wear collars of Prairie Indian beadwork. From each collar hangs a badge in the form of the six-pointed star (stylized lily) of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. The badge worn by the lion displays Canada's emblem, the maple leaf, while the badge worn by the deer displays Saskatchewan's official flower, the western red lily.
Immediately above the shield is a helmet, which represents Saskatchewan's co-sovereign status within Confederation. The helmet is decorated with mantling in Canada's national colours — red and white. Above the helmet is a wreath that supports a beaver — Canada's national animal. The beaver represents the North, the fur trade and the province's native people. The beaver holds a western red lily, the floral emblem of the province. The Crown, a symbol of Saskatchewan's direct link with the Sovereign through the Lieutenant Governor, surmounts the beaver at the top of the coat of arms.
MULTIS E GENTIBUS VIRES (From many peoples strength)
Saskatchewan's flag was adopted by the province's legislative assembly and proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor in 1969. The flag is divided horizontally into two equal parts, one green, the other gold. The green represents the northern forests of the province and the gold symbolizes the southern grain fields.
Other Provincial Symbols
- Saskatchewan District Tartan/Dress Tartan
- White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
- Sharp-tailed Grouse
- White-tailed Deer
- Potash (Sylvite)
- Walleye (Sander vitreus)
- Saskatoon Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
- Fransaskois Flag