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Yorath, Christopher (1879–1932)

Christopher J. Yorath, born in 1879, came from England in 1913 to become commissioner of Saskatoon. An engineer by training, Yorath had extensive experience in town planning, housing projects, electricity, roads, bridges, and drainage. Dedicated to fiscal responsibility, Yorath also acted as city treasurer, managing the city’s finances through the turbulent war years. He continually created new schemes regarding the city’s development: his original city plan, presented in 1913, included park space, civic areas, roads, tramways, as well as a “ring road”—a forerunner of today’s Circle Drive. He also campaigned for paved roads, increased energy capacity, adequate housing, and rail line consolidation. During Yorath’s tenure, there was considerable debate regarding the role and responsibilities of civic administrators versus civic politicians. Yorath defined his role as essentially a city manager, independent of city council; this attitude brought him into conflict with five-time mayor A. MacGillivray Young, who felt that Yorath was usurping mayoral rights and duties. He resigned in 1921 to become city commissioner for Edmonton, and later moved to Nanaimo, where he died in 1932. Both Yorath Island, south of Saskatoon, and Yorath Avenue in the Avalon area of Saskatoon were named in his honour.

Merle Massie

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