Heritage

The vibrant multi-cultural community that is Yorkton today has its roots in the York Farmers' Colonization Company. In 1882 this Ontario company sent an advance party west to develop a townsite. The following spring the first settlers arrived to homestead in the area, and called the settlement York Colony.

This original site was two miles north of the city's present location.

The arrival of the railway in 1889 dictated that the settlement should move to the rail line. Today a monument on Highway 9 North marks the original site.

With the arrival of the railway, Yorkton began to prosper. Not only did the weekly train service bring much needed supplies, it also brought more settlers from around the world. Those early homesteaders brought their skills, their determination and their culture.

Modern day Yorkton is a unique mix of all those attributes. Hospitality, a hallmark of the early days, is a prized heritage.

City Cemetery Walking Tour
Photo: The cemetery walking tour book contains the stories of 28 pioneers and spouses buried in the city cemetery.

Take a self-guided walking tour of the city cemetery at the corner of King Street and Highway 9, assisted by book prepared as a Year 2000 project by Yorkton Municipal Heritage Advisory Commission.

The tour will take up to one and a half hours, during which time you will meet many of the city's early pioneers and some contemporary figures, all interesting and all colourful.

The walking tour path is indicated by coloured flags, and flags also mark the grave sites of those included in the book.

The walking tour book is available for $3 at Yorkton City Hall on Third Avenue; at Tourism Yorkton on Highway 9, across from the cemetery; and at the Western Development Museum on Highway 16, just west of Gladstone Avenue.

Yorkton Historical Walking Tour
Photo: The Yorkton Court House, a heritage building.

Step back to the past with this self-guided walking tour. A leisurely stroll, taking approximately one hour, will take you past 30 private and public buildings that capture the essence of Yorkton's early years.

This is a wonderful opportunity to view some of the many beautiful yards and gardens in the city.

Many of the locations on the tour are private homes and you are kindly requested to view these from the sidewalk. Take the time to enter public buildings to fully appreciate the fine architectural details.

Brochures for the self-guided tour are available from Tourism Yorkton and City Hall.

Orkney Stones
Among the first settlers in 1882 were a group originally from the Orkney Islands of Scotland. These homesteaders settled approximately six miles northwest of present-day Yorkton.

Not surprisingly they named the district Orkney. These hard-working settlers erected two stone buildings that stand to this day. In 1980 the Orkney Historical Society was formed in order to restore and preserve the properties.

The Orkney School and the Orkney Church can be found six miles west on Highway 16, and 1/4 mile east on Orkney Road. The graveyard next to the church provides an interesting historical record of those first settlers and their descendants.


St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church
Photo: The dome of St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Built in 1914, the exterior of this striking church features an impressive silver dome.

Inside you can view the inspiring beauty of the painted cathedral dome which depicts the heavenly coronation of the Virgin Mary.

Artists Stephen Meush completed the work of art between 1939 and 1941.

Please inquire at the Rectory, 155 Catherine Street, about suitable times to view the interior. Telephone 306-783-4594.

Threshermen's Show and Seniors' Festival
Photo: Vintage farm equipment and the pioneer ways come to life at the Threshermen's Show.

Held annually in August.
Western Development Museum, Highway 16A West.
Telephone 306-783-8361.
Horse-drawn wagons, stooking and threshing crews, and steam tractors spring to life each summer at the annual Threshermen's Show and Seniors' Festival. It takes the dedicated, year-round efforts of the Threshermen's Club to keep these antique pieces of farm equipment in sound working order.

This is history at its best... history alive and working. Visitors can try their hand at stooking, visit the sawmill, watch the Story of Harvest as methods from single horse plows to giant steam engines are demonstrated.

Nowhere on the grounds can you escape the tantalizing aroma of bread fresh from the outdoor clay oven. Savor a slice... there's nothing else like it. Take home some freshly rolled oats and don't forget to visit the blacksmith's shop. Here you can watch smiths fashion a variety of items over a coal burning forge, and perhaps take home a memento.

Antique buffs will love the antique car and tractor competition.

Inside the museum special events are scheduled, and the permanent displays are open for viewing.

Among the special events is a demonstration by The York Colony Quilter's Guild, a group of ladies who keep alive this very practical pioneer art form.

The Festival is a celebration of bygone times and incorporates all the fun of an old-fashioned picnic, including games for young and old, and a Sunday morning hymn sing.

Painted Had Casino Pow Wow
Held annually in May

With hundreds of dancers expected from Western Canada and north-west United States, it is a dazzling experience for all.

Western Development Museum
Photo: The story of the early pioneers is told at the Western Development Museum in Yorkton.

Highway 16A, west of Gladstone Ave.
For museum and gift shop hours, go to www.wdm.ca.

Discover The Story of People. As you step through the doors of the museum and onto the railway platform you will be transported back to Yorkton's earliest days.

Displays recreate rooms from settlers' homes, vividly demonstrating life as it was, and the different cultural backgrounds of the homesteaders. Numerous exhibits demonstrate the many articles and tools used in building a new life; the treasured items brought thousands of miles to a new home.

Loneliness, the separation from loved ones, is poignantly demonstrated in the two carvings by Ukrainian settler Victor Humeniuk. The figures mutely testify to the sacrifices made by individuals in order to settle this area.

The museum also displays a wealth of agricultural equipment and implements. Through these displays you can trace the development of agriculture from that of personal survival to the backbone of a modern economy.

Yorkton Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
Godfrey Dean Cultural Centre
49 Smith Street East
For tours call Allan Hill at 782-8533.

Sports buffs are in for a treat. Displays of sports memorabilia and equipment reveal Yorkton's rich sporting heritage. The hall commemorates the achievements of local heroes, many who have achieved national recognition. The hall of fame boasts a wealth of photographs capturing bygone days and events.