Saskatchewan History magazine publishes its final edition

After 69 years, Saskatchewan History, a magazine that published scholarly articles and memoirs and showcased the Saskatchewan Archives collection holdings, printed its last issue.

Local historians say there will be a void without the long-running magazine

Saskatchewan History published special editions for anniversaries, such as one marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War. (Saskatchewan History)

Local historians say they're disappointed that after 69 years, Saskatchewan History is putting out its final issue.

The winter 2017 issue will be the last for the magazine, which was published by the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan and featured scholarly articles and memoirs, and also showcased the Provincial Archives' collection holdings.

Any professor at the University of Saskatchewan or the University of Regina who teaches a class on the history of the province or the Prairies consulted Saskatchewan History, says George Hoffman. He teaches Prairie history at the University of Regina and was a long-time subscriber of the magazine.

"Over the years, it was an absolutely excellent publication in provincial and local history. As the last issue points [out], it was award-winning. It really led the way in many ways in Canada in this whole area," he said.

The cover of the winter 2017 edition of Saskatchewan History magazine, which will be its last. (Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan)

"Sadly now, instead of Saskatchewan leading, I think Saskatchewan is the opposite in this whole area and that's really most unfortunate."

It's one of the places where you can find a lot of history about things that happen in Saskatchewan that maybe aren't widely written about than other places.- Laura Larsen, University of Saskatchewan history PhD candidate 

Laura Larsen, a history PhD candidate with the University of Saskatchewan, frequently used the magazine.

"It's one of the places where you can find a lot of history about things that happen in Saskatchewan that maybe aren't widely written about than other places."

For example, while researching the Farmers Union of Canada, she found an article in Saskatchewan History which was one of the few historical pieces that's been written about that organization to date.

Rising costs and low subscription rates are to blame

Linda McIntyre, who manages the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, cited declining subscriptions as the primary reason why the magazine is closing.

She also pointed to a lack of both time and funds. The publication received funding through various sources, including a small trust fund and a provincial government grant for part of its operational budget.

But she also said the end of the magazine will leave a gap.

Saskatchewan History published articles about topics from the fur-trade era to pioneer life to First Nations and Métis history. (Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan)

"It's helped with the education of Saskatchewan's youth … as well as the scholarly role and the interest role for the everyday person interested in Saskatchewan history," said McIntyre.    

Starting in 1948, Saskatchewan History published articles about the fur-trade era, pioneer life, ethnic groups and immigration, the history of medicine and medical care, business and trade unionism, religion on the Prairies, women's history, First Nations and Métis history, and sports history, according to the Saskatchewan Archives website.

Void left from closure

Larsen feels the magazine's end will be a loss to everyone, not just historians.

"There's tons of people who read it who find Saskatchewan history because it is interesting. A lot of what's happened in Saskatchewan has implications for Canada at a national level's history," said Larsen.

She points out that Saskatchewan has a unique and interesting history including medicare, women's suffrage and the creation of the Wheat Pool.

The cover of the first issue of Saskatchewan History magazine, from winter 1948. The winter 2017 edition was the last for the magazine. (Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan)

"We're looking at new history with new immigration and looking more at the Indigenous history in Saskatchewan, and we don't have a venue to promote and preserve that," she said.

Historians and archivists hope someone will pick up where the publication ended.

People can still access past issues of Saskatchewan History through Saskatchewan Archives' database, Threshold.

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