Estevan Historical Walking Tour

(Image from http://www.prairie-towns.com/estevan-74.html)

When my husband and I decided to buy a house in Estevan we were both hoping for a residence that felt like home. Both of us grew up in houses with deep history and character. His was actually a house package that you could order from the Eaton’s Catalogue in the late 1800s. We told our realtor this and asked her to show us older character homes, ideally with a wrap-around veranda.

She went above and beyond and reached out to a former client whose home was no longer for sale and asked if they’d consider selling to us – they did! That landed us creating our life in Estevan right in the middle of the most storied part of Estevan with a rich history of more than a century.

As a lover of history and people’s stories, I have always had a keen interest in knowing more about our home and our neighbourhood. We’ve been delighted finding old newspapers serving as insulation in our 100 + year old walls or uncovering ornate decorative linoleum area “rugs” under old flooring. It’s no surprise that I was eager to take in the Historical Walking Tour of Estevan created by Tourism Estevan and the Souris Valley Museum.

I had already done the Backroads Tour of Estevan so I was familiar with the Tripvia app. If you haven’t already downloaded it you can find the information here. Both Estevan tours are FREE!

In an effort to make this a family educational outing, I planned the afternoon for my kids and I to do this. They enjoy biking and scootering far more than walking so we decided to do the tour on wheels. Being that it was a windy day I was a little concerned that the audio might be hard for the 3 of us to hear on different wheels so I connected my phone to our battery-operated Bluetooth speaker and put it in a fanny pack. Yes, a fanny pack. IT WORKED PERFECTLY! Highly recommend.

       

The start of the tour was just a block and a bit from our house so we headed over to the P.C. Duncan House. What has become evident to me in the almost 20 years I’ve lived in Estevan is that a strong, creative entrepreneurial spirit epitomizes so many residents. It’s clear from the tour that this is a legacy that began all the way back when Estevan was just forming.

We also had fun imagining a General Store that had second floor dances and movies (also called the Opera House at times).

If you’ve driven around this historic area of Estevan I’m sure you’ve noticed much of the beautiful stone mason work on display in the architecture. The second stop led us to the gorgeous stone church built in 1903-03 by George Rooks.

(1910 http://www.prairie-towns.com/estevan-14.html)

If you check out the above picture you can see the church (facing true north) with it’s original spire. You’ll have to go on the tour to find out what happened to it and why it’s no longer there. Also in the tour you’ll figure out which one of the homes in this picture was Rook’s House.


What to Bring:

When planning to do the walking tour here are a few things to bring and prepare.

  • Make sure your phone/device is fully charged. You can download the tour to avoid using data.
  • Put on comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.
  • Bring water and snacks.
  • Use a portable bluetooth speaker if you have one.
  • Consider bikes or scooters for younger kids.

Eventually we ended up on our block and I have to say it was so interesting learning the history of our neighbours homes (like the one below that we look across the street at every day). It has some neat history about a mayoral race, the power plant expansion and a commanding officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment.

Further along in the tour we wind up near a memorial for the “Black Tuesday Riot”. This sad part of Estevan history has brought up much conversation both in this tour and the Backroads Tour. It has especially engaged my kids in the nuances of fighting for fair treatment, safe working conditions, fair pay and how many privileges we owe to those who fought for those things before us.

(Black Tuesday Riot https://www.saskarchives.com/sites/default/files/r_b14216_2.jpg)

I’ve covered a few stops on the tour but there are many more (24 total) and the history is interesting and varied. From first women owned businesses in Estevan to prohibition and bootlegging, the tour is packed with interesting information. This audio tour is an excellent outing whether you’re planning a solo walk to get some exercise or want to make it a family outing. You’ll wind up downtown on 4th street at the end and can take your pick of places to sit down and grab a bite to eat or a treat to take home.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monique Willms
Monique Willms
Monique and her family have called Estevan home for the last 18 years and she has a long history of seeing her surroundings in creative ways and adding whimsy to the mundane. A constant need to explore and adventure has allowed her to seek out hidden gems in our area and cultivate ways to enjoy and engage every season in the South East.

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