It was the discovery of a vintage ad hidden away for years behind the modern sign for an Italian restaurant downtown that got the Saskatoon Heritage Society thinking about the significance of the old hand painted ads.

'It adds favour and interest and authenticity.' - Adam Pollock, Saskatoon Heritage Society President

They are scattered around the city, up on the brick sides of historic buildings. The heritage society worries, the signs may soon fade, victim to the rush to renovate in a booming economy.  Many of the signs, they argue, are at risk of being painted over, or lost to demolition.

Saskatoon Grocery sign

This old sign was recently discovered. (CBC)

The heritage society believes the vintage ads remind us of a simpler time.

“It adds flavour and interest and authenticity to our streetscape,” Saskatoon Heritage Society President Adam Pollock said.

Ads have artistic and cultural merit 

Pollock also believes the vintage ads have artistic merit and are worth saving.

Saskatoon 20th Street 7-Up Ad

Historic 7-Up ad on 20th Street in Saskatoon. (CBC)

Saving or restoring long forgotten ads might be a tough sell in the city that’s growing rapidly, and where renewal is happening in some of the older neighbourhoods where the signs are found. But Pollock said much would be lost if the signs are destroyed.

"It's when these things disappear that we start to forget how we are all from the same place, from the same history so it plays a huge impact on creating a sense of community."

The Heritage Society is now asking the City of Saskatoon for help. The society would like to see a grant program that might help convince developers to save the old ads as they work to renovate old buildings.