Broadway: Through Boom and Bust and Back Again
Edited by Elaine DeCoursey & Peggy Sarjeant


Broadway was where it all started – the first commercial area in Saskatoon. From the beginning it was viewed as an important thoroughfare in the new Temperance Colony. The survey map of 1883 shows the street slicing through the townsite, following the old trail from Moose Woods to Batoche, Broadway and Main was to be the focal point, but development shifted north down Broadway towards the river.

The first pioneers arrived with John Lake in 1882 and steady stream of settlers followed until about 1910. Most came from Ontario, but some came from the States and elsewhere. They came as farmers and teachers, builders and carpenters, some filled with idealism, some lured by the prospect of cheap land and increased opportunities.

Broadway’s first buildings – the Colony offices at Main Street and three others – were constructed in 1883. The post office opened in 1884 on the corner of 11th Street. By 1888 the community included three general stores, a tinsmith, a stone-built hotel and a stone schoolhouse. With the coming of the railroad in 1890, however, the commercial centre of Saskatoon shifted west of the river. The original Colony townsite became known as Nutana. Broadway, however, continued to maintain its role as the commercial and social centre for the east bank, extending its trading area as far south as the farmers near Dundurn and the Indians on the Moose Woods reserve.

In 1911 the “boom” hit Broadway as it did Downtown. Amongst lumberyards and livery stables sprang up the brick commercial/residential blocks of Paul Sommerfeld, Arlington Farnam, Frederick Eaton and Charles Smith. Everyone was involved in realestate deals from pioneer farmer Charles Kusch to Eleazer Gallup, former minister of the Presbyterian Church.

Broadway weathered the “bust” which followed and entered its heyday of the years before the depression. The street was a busy place – wagons, street-cars and motor cars were all a common sight. Service businesses such as shoe-repairers, laundries and filling stations flourished, and each block had its own grocer and meat market.

During the difficult years of the depression, local farmers and employees of the CNR yards near the Exhibition provided Broadway merchants with a steady income. In return, the merchants fed the transients and bought butter and eggs from the farmers. To alleviate the housing shortage, commercial space above the Royal Bank became residential and suites rented for $25 per month.

The more buoyant post-war economy led to further development down Broadway, notably the building of the Broadway Theatre, but there were dark clouds on the horizon. The coming of the chain stores and the opening of nearby shopping centres tested the loyalty of the local residents and spelt the demise of the independent grocer and butcher.

Today we see the return of the small independent store to Broadway and a change in the role of the street. Although still important, its service function has declined. Instead, Broadway is becoming known throughout the city as an area of unique shops, enhanced by distinctive architecture and historical associations.

– Peggy Sarjeant

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Broadway Avenue and 12th Street East

This is a fitting place to begin a tour of Broadway Avenue. You are standing on what used to be the old trail from Moose Woods Reserve in the South to Batoche in the North. It followed roughly what is now Broadway AHeritagevenue and University Drive (formerly Broadway Avenue North). Imagine “Five Corners” in earlier times – without the Broadway Bridge (built in 1932); when street cars ran down the “Long hill” (Saskatchewan Crescent West) to the Traffic Bridge;when stores lined both sides of the street from Saskatchewan Crescent to 12th Street; when milliner’s shops, shoe-repairers and ice-cream parlours flourished.

This tradition of the small store is continued in the renovation of the Old Swanee Building at the corner of 12th Street. It contrasts with the highrise opposite.

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639 Broadway

Heritage - Victoria SchoolSchools mirror the history of a community. As the Temperance Colony grew, classes moved from rented rooms on Broadway to the stone schoolhouse in 1887, to a second school in 1905, and to a third final building in 1909. Additional wings were added between 1929 and 1930. Always a community centre, the school hosted dances and secular church functions. Its skating rink was a major attraction from the 1920’s up until the ‘60’s. The introduction of French Immersion classes in 1978 and the completion of major interior renovations in 1979 have given the school renewed vitality. Sculptor Bill Epp’s statue of a schoolgirl commemorates the centenary in 1988 of this, Saskatoon’s oldest educational institution. The “Little Stone School”, transferred to the university campus in 1911, provides Saskatoon’s first example of historic preservation.

Victoria School Photos

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FIREHALL #3 and WATER TOWER (1911–12)
612 11th Street East

Heritage - FirehallWhat is now a restaurant and a bar was originally Firehall #3, built in 1911, along with an adjacent watertower, to serve an ever-expanding city. It was in use for 46 years. The first run occurred on February 17th, 1912, to put out a fire caused by a pot of boiling tar in a local carpenter’s shop. The hall was very much a part of the community – children knew the firemen and changed their skates in the basement before skating at Victoria rink. This municipally designated heritage building, renovated in 1992 and recipient of a heritage award in 1993, house not only firefighting memorabilia, abut also artifacts from the now–demolished Capitol Theatre. Notable features include the original doors and tin ceiling.

Firehall #3 & Water Tower Photos


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715 Broadway

Heritage - Broadway TheatreA comparative newcomer, the Broadway Theatre was built in 1946 by Mr. Isber Schaker, mayor of Hanna, Alberta, as Saskatoon’s first eastside theatre. It was greeted as an exciting example of modernistic design in Saskatoon. Designed by the firm of Webster and Gilbert, the theatre incorporated the most up–to–date equipment – most of which is still in working order – and included such design features as a parabolic floor for easy viewing and babies’ crying room. By presenting quality films and concerts, the theatre was instrumental in spearheading the rejuvenation of Broadway.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Broadway Theatre

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721–725 Broadway

Heritage - Smith BlockBeneath the stucco lies the brick veneer facade of Charles S. Smith’s office and business block. Designed by Bugenhagen and Turnbull, architects of the Farnam Block, the building was completed in 1912. The central doorway was framed in patterned brick pilasters and surmounted by a triangular pediment. The building has seen many interesting tenants, including a branch of Early’s Seed and Feed Company (1914-1917), the Free Methodist Mission (1912–1928) and a branch of the Public Library (1941–1962). The library bought the building in 1947 and James Stewart Wood, chief librarian, lived in an upstairs suite from 1947 until his death in 1961.

Smith Block Photos


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731–733 Broadway

Heritage - Davis DairyRemembered by many as the Purity Dairy, this building was built by architects Webster and Gilbert in 1930 for the Davis Dairy Company, then situated on Main Street. It served as a dairy until the 1970’s but went through several owners – Purity Dairy, Silverwood Dairy, and finally the Dairy Pool. The plant design included a mezzanine floor from which milk flowed by gravity into refrigerated storage. In 1994 the later exterior stucco was replaced by a fine brick facade in the style of the original and the interior was completely renovated.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Silver Street Jewellers



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735–737 Broadway

Heritage - Eaton BlockIn 1906 Dr. Frederick Eaton, physician, came west from Toronto and set up his practice across the street at 806 Broadway. In 1911 he built this block and moved his office to one of its suites; after three years, however, he left for British Columbia. The main floor housed the Canadian Bank of Commerce from 1911 until 1934, when the bank was hit by the Depression. Another notable tenant was W.D.Malouf (1936–44), a member of a family prominent in Broadway’s affairs. Originally the building was crowned by a finial on a dramatic baroque pediment.


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813–817 Broadway

Heritage - Royal BankThese two Broadway landmarks were both built in 1912 by Paul Sommerfeld, president of Saskatoon Mutual Fire Insurance Company and prominent land–speculator. He had arrived from Minnesota in 1901 to homestead on land near present-day Holliston School.

Heritage - Sommerfeld BlockEarly tenants of the Sommerfeld Block included teachers from local schools and employees of the nearby CNR yards. The ground floor housed an exclusive ladies’ wear store in the 20’s and the 40’s. First mass for the Nutana Catholic community was celebrated in the basement in 1917.

Royal Bank Building Photos


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Heritage - 835 BroadwayThe Main Street intersection tended to provide basic services to the community. On the site of the small shopping mall, Gordon and Sparling’s butcher shop (1910-11) soon gave way to Robert Irvine’s and Paul Sommerfeld’s lumber companies, to be succeeded in turn by the Mulvey Brothers Feed and Dray business (1920-36). A series of service stations followed. A Chinese laundry was located on the adjacent northern lot from 1916 to 1956.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Szechuan Kitchen

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8th street and BroadwayHeritage - St. Joseph's RC Church

Looking south, the two towers of St. Joseph’s Church remind us of the Catholic presence in what was originally a Protestant colony. The church, designed to a Romanesque style by Mr.G. Verbeke, was built in 1928. The taller of the towers was intended for bells which were never installed.

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919 Broadway

Heritage - St. Joseph's Elementary“St.Jo’s”, designed by David Webster was built at the same time as the church. It opened on December 10th, 1928, replacing facilities in an old boarding house at Eastlake and Main. The Separate School Board had secured financing to buy two-thirds of the current school property with some difficulty. Not until Gibson’s Filling Station moved from the corner of Main and Broadway in 1945, were they able to acquire the final portion of the school yard. The school, renamed “Joe Duquette High School,” is now an alternative high school serving native students.

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834 – 830 Broadway

Heritage - Irvine and ClareOne of the saddest losses to Broadway was the demolition in 1965 of the old Irvine and Clare building at the NW corner of Main and Broadway, to make way for the present–day Royal Bank. Originally, it was a small, isolated frame building built ca. 1904 to house Robert Irvine’s and G.H. Clare’s general merchant’s business(see sketch on title page). The building later housed the Q. And S. Store, the Red Robin Cafe and Allwood’s harness shop. Over the years the building had been expanded to achieve the attractive roofline visible in this photograph.



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834 Broadway

Heritage - Red Robin CafeThe Red Robin Cafe will be fondly remembered as a gathering place for young people at the south end of Broadway. John Heitman, proprietor from 1928–1950, welcomed everybody, from the transients of the railroad yards to the sisters from St.Joseph’s school. His customers included farmers from south of the city and his Indian friends who sold him firewood and bought bread and candy in return. His neon sign, with a red robin flitting up and down, was a local landmark.



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814 Broadway Avenue

Heritage - Variety StoreIn the early years of this century Tony Assaly, aged 16, left Lebanon for Canada. In 1937 he arrived in Saskatoon from Rosetown and in 1940 opened a clothing store on Broadway which specialized in ladies’ and children’s wear. In 1946 the business moved to a new building at 814 Broadway. People will recall how, during the construction, the wall of the adjacent hardware business at 818 Broadway collapsed into the excavation for its basement. The store was later remodelled and renamed to include the family name of Assaly. The business finally closed its doors in 1975. The facade of 818 Broadway has recently been renovated in a style similar to that of The Variety Store.


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810 Broadway

Heritage - Stewart's DrugstoreA drug store from (1911 to 1989), this has been one of the most stable businesses on Broadway. In 1909 Charles Henry Stewart came west from Toronto via the States, set up his business as a druggist next door at #806 in 1910, then bought the present stone building and moved in between the building was restored and received a heritage award the following year. Note the original floor and tin ceiling.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Modern Country Interiors

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806 – 808 BROADWAY (CA. 1908)

Heritage - 806-808 BroadwayThis is the oldest surviving building on Broadway. Dating from 1908 when Bernard Sommerfeld bought the land, this frame building (know as the Sommerfeld Block until its namesake across the street was built), has undergone several changes. Various sidings have been added and the large street–level windows removed. The stone basement, however, remains. Druggists Fred Johnson and Robert Love started business here in 1908, to be succeeded briefly in 1910 by Charles Stewart prior to the completion of his own store next door. Meanwhile, Dr. Eaton lived upstairs until his office block at 735 Broadway was completed. People will remember 806 as the home of the Absalom rice confectionary and shoe–store(1912–13) and 808 as A.D. Malouf’s general store (1915–46).

808 Broadway Avenue Photos


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732 Broadway

Heritage - Garrison HouseThis brick building is Broadway’s direct link with the Temperance Colony. Originally, a two storey fieldstone house stood here. It was built, according to homestead records, in 1886 by George Wesley Garrison who came west with Commissioner John Lake in 1883. It served both as a residence and boarding–house. There is a story of a young Presbyterian missionary who, while staying there, had the grisly task of amputating a resident’s frozen toe without benefit of anesthetic! Between 1891 and 1894 Garrison leased rooms to the N.W.M.P. – presumably in this building – thus giving rise to its nickname “the jail” and to stories of cells in the basement. Unfortunately the 1886 construction date refutes the claim that Riel was held here at the close of the 1885 Rebellion. 1918 saw drastic alteration – the stone walls were dismantled to be replaced by concrete and brick veneer. The stone basement, however, remains.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Bulk Cheese Warehouse

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Site of Frank Holme’s store – 724 Broadway

Heritage - Broadway HardwareFrank Holme’s two storey frame grocery and hardware store stood here from 1907 to 1947, one of the earliest and longest surviving businesses on Broadway. Frank came west as a teacher, first to Prince Albert and then, in 1901, to Saskatoon. He subsequently became a merchant and also Nutana’s third postmaster, until the political climate in 1913 forced his resignation. He served again from 1936 to 1947. He traded with many farmers and Indians south of the city, who used the barn behind the store in which to stable their horses. The Oliver brothers bought the business in 1947, and in 1951 built Broadway Hardware in its place.


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722 – 708 BROADWAY AVE.

Heritage - Home and Central BakeryNorth of Frank Holmes’ store, at #722, stood the Home and Central Bakery (1916–ca. 1931), another stable Broadway business. Much of the rest of the block, however, was not fully developed until the 1930’s. #712–714(1932) was a home to Malouf’s Exclusive Menswear (1947–51) and presently houses Willey’s Jewellers. Ray Willey has been a Broadway businessman since 1949. #708 was home to a branch of the public library from 1935–1940 after which it became the new location for the Broadway Bakery (1941–1975). Recent renovations to five adjacent businesses (#708–716) provide a pleasing continuous streetscape reflecting the heritage of Broadway.

CURRENT BUSINESS: Willey's Jewlers

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650 Broadway

Heritage - Farnam BlockIn 1912, Arlington Ingalls Farnam, real-estate speculator, employed the newly formed Anglo/American architectural firm of Bugenhagen and Turnbull to build the farnam Block. Rumour has it that Farnam had wanted it to be a hotel, but was blocked by the Temperance movement. The building, home to Farnam for two years, has always seen a mix of commercial and residential use, and was a favourite of dressmakers and tailors. Tenants of the basement business area, unique in Saskatoon, have included the Nutana Catholic Church (1917-19) and John Gibson’s photographic studio (1926-57). The Farnam Block is a key architectural feature on Broadway. Its significance is recognized by plaque adjacent to the doorway.


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Moxley Block Photos


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632 – 636 BROADWAY

As early as 1932, this modest one storey brick veneer building housed a shoe–repair business and it still does today. Its original appearance is obscured by varying storefront treatments.

Older residents will remember several other businesses on this block; Pinders Drug Store on the corner of 12th Street – a favourite high school gathering place;Faille’s confectionary at 630 – people came from all over the city to watch him making chocolates; and, of course, Harrington’s Jewellers – a resident of the block from 1917 until 1965.



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628 Broadway

Heritage - Harrington's JewelleryG.W. Harrington came west from Toronto in 1911. In 1917 a fire at his first store on Broadway forced him to move to this location. He was wellknown as a watch-repairer and supplier of collegiate and university jewellery. A kind and generous man, he welcomed other jewellery stores to Broadway in the belief that “ so long as we are not all too greedy, there is lots of business for us to share.”

Harrington Jewellers Site Photos


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Broadway: Through Boom and Bust and Back Again
Edited by Elaine DeCoursey & Peggy Sarjeant

2nd ed. 1994. Published for the Saskatoon Heritage Society and the Broadway Business Improvement District. Copyright 1986 Saskatoon Heritage Society".

Photos courtesy Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library; Saskatchewan Archives Board; William Gibson; Greta Marr; John Oliver; Garry Shoquist; Broadway BID. Drawings: Elaine DeCoursey and James McEwen.


Broadway Street Fair Photos

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Marr Residence Declared Field Hospital  

In 1885, Nutana was but a fledging community with few permanent structures and only 70 residents making up its population. By spring of that year, the landscape was still covered in heaps of snow and it was in this setting that controversy was brewing north of Saskatoon at Batoche. The Métis, led by Louis Riel, were preparing to rise up against the Government of Canada in response to increased settlement of their land, The Canadian fede ral government, under the leadership of Sir John A. McDonald, acted quickly and decisively.

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BBID Office: 813 Broadway Avenue   Saskatoon, SK S7H 0M4    Ph: (306)-664-6463