Buena Vista Park
1910 – 1920: The Early Years
On Oct, 10, 1910 Commercial Traveller’s Investment Company Ltd. submitted a subdivision plan for land it owned covering the area from 4th to 8th Streets and from Lorne to Clarence Street. The block of land was offered to the City as a park for the price of $13,875 plus $400/year for development and maintenance for four years. Council approved the plan and offered $1500/acre for the block. On January 30, 1911 City Council agreed to purchase the block of land between 7th and 8th and Melrose and Eastlake which is present day Buena Vista Park. The total purchase price was $10,812.92. (E.B. Smith, Secretary, Parks Commission). On March 20, 1911 City Council granted Knox Junior Football Club permission to use the park for practice. On July 11, 1911 the proposed plan of Buena Vista Park was approved by the Parks Commission. The following August a decision was made to build a fence around the park of “plain wire, posts 16 feet apart.” July, 1911 – the architectural firm of Morell and Nicholls supplied a drawing of proposed layout of walks and plantings for the new park. A sketch of the park payout was provided in 1912 and cost estimates in 1913 were $1000.00 to carry out the work. Almost no capital expenditures were allocated to the park or any other park during the war years 1914-1918. Once again, in 1919 proposals were submitted for the laying out of the park which included: pathways, laying grass, planting trees, and erecting gates. Estimates were submitted to the provincial Local Government Board for approval so that money could be raised by selling debentures. Approval was denied resulting in a long period where no work was done to the park for lack of funds.
1920 – 1930: The Morals and Aesthetics Debate
It was not until 1924 that the Parks Superintendent recommended to the Board that cinder paths be laid down in the park and further general upkeep be undertaken at a cost of $600.00. As well, there was a recommendation that barricades be erected in the park due to people not keeping to regular paths. The implication is that some general landscaping had been done. In July of 1927 the Buena Vista Home and School Association (BVHSA) complained to Council regarding activities of a “disgraceful and disgusting” nature going on in the park after dark. They requested that the shrubbery be cut back, lights installed and extra policing take place. Reference was made to making it impossible for “young people” to hide in the park. In response, Alderman Underwood replied that any cutting of the trees and shrubs would ruin the aesthetic of the park. One woman on the BVHSA stated that the “artistic effect” of the plantings was irrelevant when weighed against the danger to the morals of area children. (Saskatoon Daily Star, 2 July 1927). In 1928 a delegation of area residents presented a petition to the Parks Board asking that a portion of BV Park be used for tennis courts and bowling greens. The petition stated that the “unfrequented and poorly lighted” park was a “serious menace to public morals” and that the building of the requested recreational facilities would “tend to increase the use of the park and lessen the aforesaid menace.” No action was taken. In 1930 the Parks Board transferred control of the playground space in various parks including bowling greens, tennis courts, paddling pools/ponds and swimming pools to the Playgrounds Association. Bylaw 2026. In April, 1930 a great deal of damage was done to the trees and shrubs in the park over the winter. A recommendation from the Parks Board was to close the park at 9 or 10 pm. No such action was taken.
1930 – 1941: The Paddling Pool and the Lawn Bowling Club
Parks Report indicated that the lack of water in BV Park made it difficult to keep the park in nice shape. The Board voted to lay two inch water pipe into the Park at a cost of $250.00. In June of 1931 the Playgrounds Association received an application for a paddling pool in BV Park. The Parks Board considered the application from S.N. MacEachern, President of the Playgrounds Association and later Mayor of Saskatoon. No action was taken on the application at the time. The paddling pool in the Park is thought to have been constructed in 1937, being one of the first in a public park in the City. 1938 brought an application from A.E. Cook of the Nutana Lawn Bowling Club for a site in the north west corner of the Park, 120 feet by 120 feet. It was the intention of the Club to install sewer, water and lights. Some 50-60 trees and shrubs would have to be moved to make the space available. The flora was transplanted to other areas of the park. In 1939 wrangling about mixed lawn bowling had the Park Board take control of all bowling greens in public parks in the City. 1940 The official opening of the Nutana Lawn Bowling Club greens in BV Park.
*The information contained in this historiography was provided by City Archives, Jeff O’Brien, and summarized by Sean Sass, BVCA.