“Meewasin Interpretive Centre closure ‘sad day’ wrote Brandon Hrder in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Thusday June 9, 2016. The MVA formed in 1979, using a small office on campus before the Meewasin Centre opened Monday February 15, 1988 reported Julie Fleming Juarez in the Saskatoon Mirror. February 15, is Canada’s National Heritage Day, quite fitting for the Interpretive Centre grand opening, which has a focus on Saskatoon’s history, promoting education, understanding and awareness of the South Saskatchewan River Valley, and its heritage and natural resources.
Located at 402-Third Avenue, the centre is on the eastern perimeter of Saskatoon’s River Landing. As part of the heritage of Saskatoon the Meewasin Valley Authority Centre had been situated at the foot of the Broadway bridge and Traffic Bridge.
A bit of history reveals that the Victoria Bride or “Traffic Bridge was a truss bridge that spanned South Saskatchewan River, connecting Victoria Avenue to 3rd Avenue South and Spadina Crescent in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Opened October 10, 1907, it was the first vehicle bridge in Saskatoon, replacing an unreliable ferry service. The promised construction of the bridge was considered a prime factor in the amalgamation of the towns of Saskatoon, Nutana and Riversdale. The Traffic Bridge was the only road bridge in Saskatoon until 1916, when the University Bridge was completed.In 2010, the bridge was permanently closed due to severe corrosion and has been partially demolished.”~Wikipedia
The four MVA galleries showcase Saskatoon’s character, the city’s economic history, the impact of being city located astride the South Saskatchewan River, the the people who chose to live here. Heritage photos of Saskatoon and a large map grace the walls alongside video displays.
The interpretive centre co-exits with the Meewasin administration offices. “One of our functions is to tell people about the history of Saskatoon,” explained Brenda Janzen one of the MVA’s interpreters of 1989, “Another function is to tell people about the Meewasin Valley – how they can enjoy the trail and the various parks located in the city.” The MVA centre liaisons with community groups, the Saskatoon Heritage Society and Geological Society in setting up changing displays. Bird Watching Workshops, self-guided tour packages and hosted hiking tours have been special MVA feature presentations.
The MVA created in 1979 focuses on the health of the river valley and the protection of its natural eco-system. The MVA, to this end they organize the annual spring clean ups of the river banks, and parks. Youth groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Community Associations, church affiliations, corporations, students, and volunteers all come out to take part in cleaning up the city and area. These conservation efforts protect the city’s water supply as trash has an adverse effect upon water quality contamination and poses threats to drinking water and wildlife. The Meewasin founded the Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin PFSRB in 1993 which undertakes river management practices.
MVA architect Raymond Moriyama received the Canadian Architect Yearbook’s 1979 Award of Excellence for the MVA 100 year plan, reported the Saskatoon Star Phoenix February 9, 1980. Moriyama’s vision and concepts included recreational facilities, winter gardens, a wharf area, glassed in pedestrian corridors, a new City Hall, new shopping centre, experimental housing on the University of Saskatchewan campus, and walking and interpretive centres slung low beneath the bridges.
On February 25, 1984, it was found in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, that the MVA were themselves recipients of Canada’s Governor General’s Conservation Award.
October 19, 1980 the MVA wins the international award, setting Saskatoon on the world stage. Again February 16, 1993 the MVA wins a National Award and attends an acceptance ceremony in Manitoba.
The first projects of the MVA were the Bessborough Skating Rink and the Meewasin Park setting the stage for river bank planning and public engagement with nature in the city. The MVA spear-headed projects to remove a contaminated site where “Agent Orange” had been buried, and managed to restore the site to a naturalized area. The Meewasin, City of Saskatoon and Ducks Unlimited along with corporate sponsors and environmental groups worked together to facilitate wetlands habitats in storm water ponds. The City of Saskatoon treats sewage with secondary and tertiary treatment practices, and discontinued the flow of alum and iron into the river as awareness of the river grew. Meewasin undertakes a huge planting of native flora, and trees. To encourage native species, such as crocus and others, controlled burns are implemented as part of the naturalized eco-system management. The care and stewardship of the river now, will make the wetlands, the waterway and the river valley ecologically sustainable for many generations to come.
The MVA, does indeed have a profound effect upon the current generation who can appreciate the riverside and park trails, learn about Saskatoon’s history at the interpretive centre, respect and live in harmony with nature well into the future. The MVA brings together public programs and projects to conserve and enhance the natural resources along the South Saskatchewan River, and the waters which drain in to the river.
The interpretive centre gets between 15,000 to 20,000 visitors annually, and serving close to 1/2 million visitors since 1988. It is during the summer months, the beginning of the tourist season when the MVA interpretive centre is appreciated by visitors from around the world. What will it take to keep the interpretive centre functioning for school classes of children and for tourists to appreciate the unique history of Saskatoon, and to learn about the MVA river bank trails, and parkway system?
The current location used by the MVA is 16,200 square feet, in a former Rothman’s tobacco warehouse originally constructed in 1972, and was bought by the MVA in 1986. This building is located in Friendship Park right along the river bank. The interpretive centre features four galleries open to the public.
As Saskatoon grows to 1/2 million by 2023 what do the citizens want for their city? What should the City of Saskatoon look like in these short seven years from now? Do the citizens appreciate having the parks, the several afforestation areas, the walkways in the city of Saskatoon? How can the residents of the city of Saskatoon and area let the MVA know their appreciation of programs at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area, of accessible trails, of the naturalized restoration and reclamation work undertaken at Cranberry Flats Conservation area, of the creation and upkeep of MVA’s river bank trails and park connector routes. Even planting Monarch Butterfly gardens to save the declining population of Monarch Butterflies has been an MVA initiative.
As there are a greater number of residents with an urban background they have less opportunity to appreciate the natural prairie grasslands, forests and wetlands. It is due to the efforts of the City of Saskatoon working in conjunction with the MVA, that the residents are, indeed, able to appreciate the many naturalized parks in and around Saskatoon, the native wildlife prairie habitats, the afforested areas which become homes to white-tail deer, rabbit, mule deer, mountain bluebird, black-capped chickadee. Not only activities limited to parks and educational programs, but the MVA is also actively preserving and protecting the North East Swale, and the West Swale wetlands and surrounding areas.
The fate of the MVA Interpretive Centre rests in your hands, Saskatoon.
If a package of cigarettes costs $15.00 for 25, and it is always easy to find money for cigarettes, why not make a monthly deposit for a year to the MVA of $15.00 so that the funding and staffing of the Interpretive Center in Saskatoon and at Beaver Creek can be sustained.
If a family four can dine for about $24.99 at many fast food chains, why not make a monthly deposit for a year to the MVA of $25.00 if you enjoy the parks and trails of Saskatoon.
If a family of four has a delightful time taking in a movie, and spending a sum of $40.00 to enter, and another $26.00 on snacks, why not make a monthly deposit to the MVA of $66.00 for a year as an appreciation of the entertainment your family spends in the city’s river bank parks, at Beaver Creek and Cranberry Flats Conservation Areas.
Saskatoon’s population in 2011 was 222,189, and of that population 170,144 were over the age of 19. If only half of this adult population would donate $20.00 a month for an entire year, an amazing trust fund could be started to support the conservation efforts of this environmental working to sustain the South Saskatchewan River valley now and for future generations. Pop over to the <A href=”http://meewasin.com/donate/”>Meewasin Valley Authority</a> website to make a donation and <A href=”http://meewasin.com/get-involved/”>get involved!!!</a>. Talk to the corporation you work for as well, ask if they would also love to support the MVA.
If you think it is wonderful to live in a city astride an amazing river, walk along the river bank, and take in the sights of the river valley, it would, indeed, be a splendid idea to send a little thank you to the MVA to continue their environmental conservancy work for the South Saskatchewan River wetlands.
A volunteer for the MVA, Derek Hill stated, “I suppose we all work for the MVA because we believe in the cause.” (Saskatoon Star Phoenix. September 2, 1988)
If you think that classes of children, tourists worldwide, and your family enjoy the self-guided tours available at the MVA, and the galleries showcasing Saskatoon’s history at the Meewasin Valley Interpretive Centre, justsend them a thank you and let them know how important the Meewasin Valley Authority and their several environmental programs and ecologically sustainable initiatives along the South Saskatchewan River Valley are to you.
“We are all the guardians of this precious resource of Meewasin.” (Meewsin Explorer. Vol 21 #5 November December 2014.)
Armstrong, Jeannie. Discover City Magic at Meewasin Centre. S-P Creative Services. Saskatoon Star Phoenix. May 13, 1989.
Boklaschuk, Shannon. MVA: Funding frozen since 1986, board chair says. The StarPhoenix. April 11, 2006
French, Janet. Trails, butterflies on MVA’s radar. The StarPhoenix. Aparil 7, 2002
Harder, Brandon. Meewasin Interpretive Centre Closure ‘sad day’. Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Thursday June 9, 2016.
Fuller, Cam. MVA centre rich in city’s lore. Saskatoon StarPhoenix. February 20, 1988.
Hanley, Paul. Meewasin Helps Saskatoon shine internationally. The StarPhoenix. December 5, 2006.
Juarez, Julie Fleming. Meewasin Centre to be opened on Monday. The Saskatoon Mirror. February 10, 1988.
Planner calls for lake, drive with view of river. MVAs goals spell green. The StarPhoenix. September 7, 1991
Statistics Canada Saskatoon Census Profile 2011 Government of Canada. 2016-05-02
Tank, Phil. Urgent Needs put MVA in ‘precious position’. Saskatoon StarPhoenix January 4, 2016
“The fate of an individual or a nation will always be determined by the degree of his or its harmony with the forces and laws of Nature and the universe. Man is not alone in the universe but is surrounded by sources of power, harmony and knowledge. The fullness of life depends upon man’s harmony with the totality of the natural cosmic laws. Our individual evolution is a job that has to be carried on day by day by each individual himself. It is a livelong task.” Richard St. Barbe Baker.
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Contact the MVA and ask how you can support the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area with your donation.
July 9, 2016 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area CLEAN UP Day PAMPHLET