Saskatoon neighbourhood will serve as example of veterans' settlements across Canada

A little over 70 years ago, 28 families were preparing to move into Montgomery Place, a rural subdivision that was set up for war veterans on the outskirts of Saskatoon in 1946.

Original families gathered Sunday for unveiling of National Historic Site plaque at Montgomery Place

Veteran Robbie Harder, whose family was one of the original 28 who settled in Montgomery Place after the Second World War, unveiled the National Historic Site plaque on Sunday. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

A little over 70 years ago, 28 families were preparing to move into Montgomery Place, a rural subdivision that was set up for war veterans on the outskirts of Saskatoon in 1946.

On Sunday, some of the original veterans and their children met at the neighbourhood gathering place for the unveiling of a plaque to recognize its designation as a National Historic Site.

Some, like veteran Robbie Harder, still live in the homes they built after the war.

"It was great here because it was all veterans, so it was all people of more or less the same age," she said.

"And our kids all grew up together and there were enough children they could have their own hockey team or their own baseball team."

The Montgomery Place neighbourhood was created under the Veterans' Land Act, which allowed veterans of the Second World War to buy a house for a small down payment.

The subdivisions were set up across Canada but, unlike others that have been fragmented by development, Montgomery Place remains intact. It also retains many of the key elements of its original design.

Montgomery Place in the 1950s. (Montgomery Place Community Association)

Harder said it was a special place that deserved to be "put on the map", adding that she feels the national historic designation is well-deserved.

Neighbourhood helped veterans resettle

Barb Biddle, the president of the Montgomery Place Community Association, was involved with the process of having the site recognized.

As a child of two veterans, she grew up in the neighbourhood.

"The idea was not only to create an affordable house for them to acquire and the veterans affairs also gave them a low-cost loan," said Biddle.  
The Montgomery Place neighbourhood of Saskatoon was recognized as a National Historic Site at a ceremony on Sunday. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

"But they were looking at it being a place where they could be somewhat self-sufficient."

Biddle's father was a member of the Canadian Army and met her mother, who was in the British army, in England.

She said it is important that the wider community knows and understands the history of not only the Saskatoon veteran community but others across Canada.

Montgomery Place to serve as example

As Montgomery Place remains largely intact, she hopes the historic site designation will help to educate the public.

Jim Miler, a Saskatchewan member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, said the Saskatoon site will serve as an example of veteran settlements across Canada.

Designation shows pride

It is the first veterans' neighbourhood, and will likely be the only one, to be designated a national historic site.

"The Montgomery Place association obviously is very, very proud, deservedly, of this and they want more people to know about it," said Miller.

"Putting a historic sites plaque on it is one way of doing that."

The designation does not offer any legal protections for the existing infrastructure but it does provide access to funding for restorations and maintenance.  

The site received the designation in 2016 but the plaque was not revealed until Sunday.