Saskatoon

Saskatoon Morning looks at wartime home history in the city

As Saskatoon city council prepares to bring in new rules on infill development, Saskatoon Morning is taking a look at wartime homes in the city.

Small homes built after the Second World War are still a major feature of Saskatoon neighbourhoods.

Photo of war time homes in Saskatoon from the exhibit "Saskatchewan in Two World Wars: Veterans" (Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists)
As city council prepares to bring in new rules on infill development, Saskatoon Morning is taking a look at some of the smaller homes in our neighbourhoods. Wartime homes are coming up to their 70th anniversary in Saskatoon. 
Photo of war time home in Saskatoon from the exhibit "Saskatchewan in Two World Wars: Veterans" (Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists)

"The story starts in about 1930," said city archivist Jeff O'Brien.

Very few homes were built in during the Great Depression. It led to a housing crisis in Saskatoon by the time the war was ending in 1945. The city hired a director of emergency housing, and the mayor went on the radio and asked people to open their homes to returning soldiers and their families.

"One of the aldermen, Bill Grey, actually went around knocking on doors in his neighbourhood asking people if they would take a soldier as a boarder," said O'Brien.    

Wartime Housing Corporation 

"Enter the Wartime Housing Corporation," said O'Brien.

It existed since the First World War, and planned to build homes across Canada for returning soldiers. 

"They had a bunch of different house plans," said O'Brien. "There were all quite similar and everybody who has seen a wartime home knows what they look like. Little one and one-and-a-half storeys, they have no eaves, they all look more or less the same."
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      The first project in Saskatoon got underway on April 17, 1945. The very first house was occupied on the 900 block of Avenue I N.  There are clusters of wartime homes in several neighbourhoods in Saskatoon.  They were leased to returning soldiers for a modest fee, and after a certain number of years the owners could buy them or the city could buy them. 

      "It's 70-odd years later and those houses are still there," said O'Brien.  

      Do you have a wartime home? Send us your photos to: saskatoonmorning@cbc.ca 

      Listen to Jeff O'Brien explain the history here. 
      City archivist Jeff O'Brien tells us the history of the war time home in Saskatoon. It's been 70 years this spring since the first war time development was built. 4:36