The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw, pop 32,131, is the province’s fourth largest city. It is located 175 km north of the US border, nestled in a picturesque valley where the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek River meet. Moose Jaw is connected to three major highways, the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline and a branch line of the Canadian National Railway, and is served by two bus lines. It is governed by a mayor and six aldermen elected at large. Moose Jaw was originally settled as a traditional Indian fur traders’ camp at the “Turn” (known as Kingsway Park today) for both Cree and Assiniboine nations, and there are burial grounds in the vicinity. It is thought that Moose Jaw derives its name from a Cree word meaning “warm breeze”; another explanation is that is was named after the local creek, which resembled the outline of a moose’s jawbone. In July 1881, James Ross and Hector Sutherland registered the town site with the Dominion government and organized a permanent settlement, which began in 1882 when James Ross and his party of four arrived from Winnipeg on January 2. The Canadian Pacific Railway chose the juncture of Moose Jaw and Thunder Creek for a divisional point, and by the spring of 1883 the population had increased rapidly.

By 1885, Moose Jaw was a major settlement. In addition to the homesteading population and railway workers, Sioux who had retreated with Sitting Bull after the battle of the Little Big Horn settled in an adjacent village located in Kingsway Park, now known as Connor’s Park. In the summer of 1885, the Dominion government sent 390 soldiers from Halifax to Moose Jaw to guard supplies and communication routes; they aided in suppressing the North-West Resistance led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. A major fire in 1891 wiped out seventeen businesses and a church on Main Street; this incident, coupled with earlier fires, caused the town to make brick or stone construction mandatory: this is part of the reason why there are so many early red brick heritage properties today in downtown Moose Jaw. In 1903 Moose Jaw gained city status; it became the wholesale distribution centre for a large trading area and began the processing of agricultural products. The city’s growth was closely related to the expansion of cereal agriculture. Today, Moose Jaw is an agricultural service centre whose industries include agriculture, manufacturing, service and retail. CFB Moose Jaw (15 Wing), first established as a training facility in 1941, is the largest jet training base in Canada and the city’s largest employer.

The public library, art museum, a swimming pool and other recreational facilities are located in the heart of the city in Crescent Park. The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology provides education to post-secondary students. The city is serviced by two cable companies, four radio stations, a daily newspaper (the Moose Jaw Times Herald), and a weekly newspaper (Moose Jaw This Week). The city has two main tourist attractions: the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa, which uses hot mineral water from an underground aquifer; and the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, where notorious gangster Al Capone supposedly ran his bootleg operation and Chinese immigrants hid and ran their laundry operations.

Daria Coneghan

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This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.