Building History

Our building’s history – the first 75 years

Taken from Saskatoon Public Library, Local History Room 1985, written by A.E. McPherson and The Broadway Gazette (Supplement to the Saskatoon Mirror), September 6, 1988.

If it could speak, this building beside the Sommerfeld Block, could tell a tale or two. It was built in 1912 between 10th and Main Streets on Broadway, for the Saskatoon Mutual Fire Assurance Co., and designed by Bugenhagen and Turnball. The first floor was occupied by The Royal Bank of Canada, Nutana Branch. SMFA was on the second floor and Western Commercial College, the third. While the tenants on the 2nd and 3rd floors changed frequently, the bank remained until 1966, some 53 years.

Over the years several printing companies were housed at 813. One of the earliest, Nutana Printers, was in the basement of the building, which boasted maple floors and a leaded-glass entry-way. As of 1920, both upper and basement floors were rented as apartments. From 1950 to 1963 the second and third floors were rented as single apartments, while from 1963 to 1966, Crowfoot Construction Ltd and Midlands Industries leased the top floor.

When RBC left, the Saskatoon French School took over the main floor and basement until it found a new place in 1969. It was followed by Carousel Nursery Kindergarten and Peter Pan Kiddie Centre until 1974, when the upper floors were once again residential.

In 1974, Northland Books purchased the building and moved its out-of-print and antiquarian book operation from a Victoria Avenue location that had been badly damaged by fire. With the new owners, the 2nd and 3rd floors once again returned to small business and artist studios. One source indicates that by 1977, more adult tenants climbed its stairs – Cupid Dating and Escort Service, and Sir’s Exotic Dance Studio.

Bread n’ Broth, Saskatoon’s first vegetarian and sandwich bar restaurant, served food from the 2nd floor between 1979 and 1982, and following its closure, Shoestring Gallery (later AKA) occupied the 2nd floor and part of the 3rd for three years. CUSO, Canada World Youth, Broadway Book Repair, Tamarack Foundation and Easterbrook Conservation followed came and went in the years following.

It’s no wonder the building needs a new heating and cooling system! The SCC looks forward to playing its part in the building’s 103 years long story. To accomplish that we need to replace the heating system (more than half a century old) and install a cooling system. Please donate to that project here.