Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is a beautiful Canadian city where I have had the good fortune to live off and on over the years. Filled with gorgeous old trees and friendly people, this fast-growing city is a great place to visit. There are lots of nice hotels to stay in, such as the Bessborough, an historic CPR hotel, or the Saskatoon Inn with its indoor garden. There are also lots of things to see and do. I highly recommend visiting the Western Development Museum and the Museum of Antiquities. The latter is located at the University of Saskatchewan, arguably the prettiest campus in Canada with its greystone (limestone) buildings and green spaces. Another interesting place to visit is the Marr Residence.
Built on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon was founded as a temperance colony in 1883. The following year, Alexander Marr was lured to the area by posters promoting the flourishing colony. Hoping to make his fortune constructing buildings in the area, Marr moved his wife and five daughters to the new community of Nutana (now a neigbourhood in Saskatoon).
The Marr family moved into the bottom floor of a partially completed home that first winter. The following spring, the Northwest Resistance led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont broke out in nearby Batoche, and the military requisitioned the residence along with two others in the area to serve as field hospitals.
Following its short stint as a field hospital, the second floor of the house was completed. Originally, the house consisted of the parlour, dining room and kitchen on the main floor and two bedrooms upstairs. While large for the time and location, it is hard for people today to imagine a family of nine (two sons were born after the move) living in such a small space.
Later, after the Marrs had moved to Prince Albert in 1892, several expansions were completed. The bathroom, pantry and a third bedroom were added between 1903 and 1910. In 1929, an enclosed front porch was built and, two years later, a basement was constructed.
In addition to its size, two architectural features set the house apart from others in the new colony. The first was the Mansard roof, which allowed for much more space upstairs that traditional peaked roofs. The second was the leaded beveled glass windows. These were luxuries at a time when many pioneers were living in mud shacks or sod huts.
No longer a private residence, the house is a heritage site owned by the City of Saskatoon. The main-floor rooms are filled with historic furniture and decorations. Of the three upstairs bedrooms, one is set up as it would have appeared in its early days while another is outfitted as a late-19th-century field hospital and the third has various school furnishings and old maps. In the summer, the garden surrounding the house is a nice place to go for a stroll or just sit and visit.