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Saskatchewan is a boreal and prairie province located in the west of Canada. It is the only province that does not have a naturally formed border. Almost ten percent of the land is fresh water, and the province boasts a hundred thousand lakes.
More than a million people live in Saskatchewan. The majority of the residents live in the southern half, which is the prairie portion. The boreal half to the north has dense forests and a sparse population. About half of the total population lives in Saskatoon, which is the province’s largest city.
Saskatchewan has a history of population by a variety of indigenous peoples throughout North America. Some of the indigenous peoples with a history of living in Saskatchewan include the Sioux, Lakota, Nakoda, Saulteaux, Cree, Atsina, Niitsitapi, and Sarcee.
Henry Kelsey is the first known European to have entered the Saskatchewan area. He traveled the Saskatchewan River in 1690 hoping to trade furs with the indigenous peoples in the region. A Hudson’s Bay Company post became the first European settlement in the area. Between 1762 and 1802, the southern portion of the province was a part of Spanish Louisiana.
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 transferred part of Saskatchewan and Alberta to the United States government. This area was ceded to Britain in 1818. The majority of present day Saskatchewan was called Rupert’s Land and was controlled through a commercial monopoly by Hudson’s Bay Company. In the 1850s and 1860s, there were scientific expeditions to explore the prairie portion of Saskatchewan.
The area came under the Canadian government’s control in 1870, when the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred ownership. The government entered multiple treaties with indigenous peoples living in Saskatchewan.
The federal government and varying trading companies created policies to encourage immigration to the area now known as Saskatchewan. However, the advertising campaigns for immigration downplayed the amount of agricultural expertise people needed to thrive. Many people without farming experience moved to the area and found a somewhat harsher reality.
In 1901, about 19,200 families lived in Saskatchewan. However, the population boomed so sharply that there were more than 150,000 families just fifteen years later. Saskatchewan officially became a province in 1905 and had an inauguration day on September 4. Between 1901 and 1911, the population quintipled due to immigration of farmers from Scandinavia, Germany, Ukraine, and the United States.
Immigration reached its peak in 1910. Though many people initially struggled due to lack of agricultural experience, the society did become largely prosperous and peaceful. In 1970, the first of the annual Canadian Western Agribition farming trade shows was held. In 1980, the province celebrated its 75th anniversary of establishment.
Since late in the 20th century, there has been political activism from First Nations groups seeking reparations and justice for past injustices. The provincial Saskatchewan government and federal Canadian government have negotiated several land claims.
Rather than having natural borders, Saskatchewan’s borders are defined mostly by longitude and latitude coordinates. As such, it’s roughly a four-sided shape. To the west, the province is bordered by Alberta. The Northwest Territories border Saskatchewan to the north, Nunavut on the northeast, and Manitoba on the east. To the south, the United States states North Dakota and Montana border Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan is the only land locked province besides Alberta. The majority of the province’s population can be found in the southmost third of the province. The highest point in the province is found in the Cypress Hills and peaks at 1,392 meters or 4,567 feet.
Saskatchewan is located in the north, though it is one of the southernmost parts of Canada. Because it’s not near any large bodies of water and receives a lot of sunlight, the summers tend to be warm. In most eastern and central portions of the province, there is a humid continental climate. Meanwhile, to the southwest, the climate is a semi-arid steppe option.
There have been times in the past where little to no precipitation occurs, which can cause drought in the agricultural areas. North of La Ronge, Saskatchewan tends to have a subarctic climate that has shorter summers.
Summers can involve heat waves, sometimes in excess of 38 Celsius or 100 Fahrenheit. The province is also one of the highest places for tornado activity in Canada. Between twelve and eighteen tornadoes occur per year. There were thirty-three total tornadoes reported in 2012. Both non-severe and severe thunderstorms occur in the province, with hail and strong winds being common.
Historically speaking, the majority of Saskatchewan’s economy has been based around agriculture. However, as of 2018, the combination of hunting, fishing, forestry, and agriculture makes up less than ten percent of the GDP. A large amount of Canada’s grain is grown in Saskatchewan.
Mining is another major industry. Saskatchewan is the largest exporter of uranium and potash in the world. The economy is also supported by the oil and natural gas industries. Alberta is the only province to exceed Saskatchewan in oil production.
Saskatchewan is not near any significant bodies of water. It does, however, receive more sunlit hours than any province in Canada. This makes it one of the warmest places to live in Canada.
The hottest temperature that has ever been recorded in Canada was recorded in Saskatchewan. It occurred when the temperature rose to 45 Celsius or 113 Fahrenheit.
Saskatchewan Cities and Regional Municipalities Include: