History Made, Rejuvenated and Relived

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I loved the ordination of Paul Mau Van Nguyen that took place in Holy Rosary Cathedral June 28.  Yes, the services are long, about two hours for this one, but they’re full of ceremony and ritual and reminders of the ancient church to which we belong. The ordination was the first service in the newly renovated Holy Rosary Cathedral. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the work that went into it, there are separate stories describing the ordination and the renovations on this website somewhere in the news section.

As soon as you walk into the Cathedral from the main entrance, the dramatic blue stripe just below the upper arches catches your eye and beautifully brings out the blues in the stained glass windows. I’m not a critic so I’ll leave the details to others but I like the overall impact of the new colours. Take a moment out of your day and visit the Cathedral. It’s quite a change.

Saskatchewan’s towns contain a treasure trove of history that we rarely think about when we whiz past on the highway. I became more aware of that when I recently visited Wolseley. The first building I passed was St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, a landmark in this town of about 500 people according to Mayor Dennis Fjestad. The parish dates from 1884 but the brick church was built in 1900 mostly from bricks manufactured in the town. Father Charles Maillard, a priest from Northern France was resident for 12 years and painted five works around the altar. He later created the paintings in Our Lady of Assumption Co-Cathedral, Gravelbourg. I didn’t get to see the inside of the church but, courtesy of the Mayor who I met on the street, he did show me the inside of the Opera House built in 1906 again from locally manufactured bricks. Town fathers in that era believed Wolseley would achieve a population of about 10,000 and required a proper opera house/townhall/firehall reflecting that status. That optimistic attitude was reflected in many settlements across the prairies during the early immigration years. It all came crashing down in the great depression of the dirty thirties but most of the towns, like Wolseley, contain buildings that reflected that optimism.

The next time you go zipping down a highway, unless you are time restricted, take a moment and visit one of these communities. It puts you in touch with history.

By the way Wolseley is famous for its swinging bridge over the small lake around which the town is built. I was there visiting a friend in the care home with a huge deck overlooking the lake, fountain and the bridge. The town also has the oldest court house in the province. It’s been closed for many years but the town would like to get ownership from the federal government so it can do something with it instead of letting it sit empty and locked up.

Oh, and the lake? It was created by the CPR damming a creek to provide water for its locomotives. A pipe and pump system fed a water tower next to the railroad tracks. The water tower and I guess the pump system are long gone. Interesting stuff.