Saskatchewan is a Prairie province known for its farming history and traditions. In fact, this province is often known as the world’s "breadbasket". The Melfort and District Museum evokes the rich economic and social story of Saskatchewan.

What is done during harvesting work?
Saskatchewan is a Prairie province known for its farming history and traditions. In fact, this province is often known as the world’s "breadbasket". The Melfort and District Museum evokes the rich economic and social story of Saskatchewan.

What is done during harvesting work?

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Mr. Cowell's Threshing Outfit, 1912

Melfort and District Museum

© Melfort and District Museum


Grain farming is the foundation of Melfort and district. Agriculture go as far back as 1754 and continues to expand to this day. However, the land had to be cleared before grain farming could become the dominant form of agriculture in the area. The Melfort area was originally parkland with bluffs of trees and open meadows.

The first farming implements were quite simple. However, they still enabled the farmer to accomplish the work that he needed to complete. Sometimes a farmer would only have four large oxen, a walking plough and a wagon. Eventually, this changed to horses and a walking plough, then yet again to a two-furrow gang plough, still pulled by horses. Oxen and horses were bred and sold in those times just as tractors are made and sold today.
This is an example of an early homesteader’s year of farming. On the April 23, 1897, the Blakely family started ploughing. They sowed wheat on the 27th and harrowed it on the 28th. On May 1 they ploughed more land, and they also harrowed the garden. The 12th of May saw them ploughing as well as seeding oats. By the 14th of May, they had finished the oats and they had planted potatoes. On the 17th, they put in Read More
Grain farming is the foundation of Melfort and district. Agriculture go as far back as 1754 and continues to expand to this day. However, the land had to be cleared before grain farming could become the dominant form of agriculture in the area. The Melfort area was originally parkland with bluffs of trees and open meadows.

The first farming implements were quite simple. However, they still enabled the farmer to accomplish the work that he needed to complete. Sometimes a farmer would only have four large oxen, a walking plough and a wagon. Eventually, this changed to horses and a walking plough, then yet again to a two-furrow gang plough, still pulled by horses. Oxen and horses were bred and sold in those times just as tractors are made and sold today.
This is an example of an early homesteader’s year of farming. On the April 23, 1897, the Blakely family started ploughing. They sowed wheat on the 27th and harrowed it on the 28th. On May 1 they ploughed more land, and they also harrowed the garden. The 12th of May saw them ploughing as well as seeding oats. By the 14th of May, they had finished the oats and they had planted potatoes. On the 17th, they put in the peas and harrowed them the following day. On the 5th of July they bagged grain and crushed it on the 6th. In a four-day period from the 31st of July to the 3rd of August they broke five acres of land. On September 21 they stacked barley and on the 24th they dug potatoes (50 to 55 bushels). They stacked oats on the 28th and started threshing on October 5. By December 2, they were cleaning grain.

As the occupation of farming grew so did the demand for, and supply of, better farming implements. The size of the fields increased with the arrival of technologically more advanced machinery, such as tractors and threshing machines.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Of the following, the work of harvesting involves:

1. Sowing the seeds.
2. Digging and turning the earth over with a tool or plough
3. Harvesting the grain when it is ripe.
Of the following, the work of harvesting involves:

1. Sowing the seeds.
2. Digging and turning the earth over with a tool or plough
3. Harvesting the grain when it is ripe.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

The Provincial Museum of Alberta has an exhibit on Aboriginal culture featuring dioramas that depict scenes from the lives of people who lived as much as 9,000 years ago. Here are some hunters with spears waiting for game near a lake where it went to drink.

What type of animal is featured in the painting below?
The Provincial Museum of Alberta has an exhibit on Aboriginal culture featuring dioramas that depict scenes from the lives of people who lived as much as 9,000 years ago. Here are some hunters with spears waiting for game near a lake where it went to drink.

What type of animal is featured in the painting below?

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Kill site diorama at the Provincial Museum of Alberta

The Provincial Museum of Alberta

© The Provincial Museum of Alberta


Summer in southern Alberta. 9,000 years before recorded history. Armed with spears and dressed in breechcloths and moccasins, hunters waited at the side of a small lake. They waited for the bison. While the bison quenched their thirst, hunters ambushed them. The bison were killed and butchered.

Elaborately detailed - down to dripping blood on the dying beast - this kill site is one of the first displays you’ll see in The Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture. Known as the "Prehistoric Kill Site" Diorama, this was the first of five major dioramas to be completed (a diorama is a re-created three-dimensional, life-like scene).

In the late 1950s a cattle-watering dugout was excavated near Taber and this led to the discovery of the kill site. Buried under two meters of sand, this rare archaeological site was found intact and is the only buried site of this age known from the Alberta Plains. Very few undisturbed sites from the Early Prehistoric Period (11,500 to 7,500 years ago) survived. Many bison of a large and ancient form were killed there.

Archaeologists fro Read More
Summer in southern Alberta. 9,000 years before recorded history. Armed with spears and dressed in breechcloths and moccasins, hunters waited at the side of a small lake. They waited for the bison. While the bison quenched their thirst, hunters ambushed them. The bison were killed and butchered.

Elaborately detailed - down to dripping blood on the dying beast - this kill site is one of the first displays you’ll see in The Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture. Known as the "Prehistoric Kill Site" Diorama, this was the first of five major dioramas to be completed (a diorama is a re-created three-dimensional, life-like scene).

In the late 1950s a cattle-watering dugout was excavated near Taber and this led to the discovery of the kill site. Buried under two meters of sand, this rare archaeological site was found intact and is the only buried site of this age known from the Alberta Plains. Very few undisturbed sites from the Early Prehistoric Period (11,500 to 7,500 years ago) survived. Many bison of a large and ancient form were killed there.

Archaeologists from the museum, in addition to others, excavated the site in the late 1980’s. Along with bison bones and spear points, they found seeds, pollen, snail shells, insects and other minute items preserved in the clay of the old lake bottom. These items allowed scientists to reconstruct the climate and vegetation at the time the site was used. It’s unusual to have such good preservation of organic remains. Other perishable objects like clothing and wooden tools didn’t survive.

Years of work and the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team have gone into re-creating the bison kill site. This is what has been accomplished:
  • Basic research was conducted by an archaeologist, palaeobotanist and other experts in ancient archaeology.
  • The 9,000 year old bison was re-created by a taxidermist and palaeontologist. The horns were reconstructed to be long and straight, unlike the short and strongly curved horns of modern bison.
  • Using Aboriginal people as models, a sculptor made two mannequins of the hunters - a slow and painful process, which saw the models shaved, smeared with oil and covered in full body plaster casts.
  • Weapons and clothing were replicated by experts.
  • The background was painted by a renowned natural history artist. The artist also prepared the foreground and coordinated the production

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

The animal featured in the kill site diorama is a:

1. Bison
2. Mink
3. Boar
The animal featured in the kill site diorama is a:

1. Bison
2. Mink
3. Boar

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Melfort and District Museum Question
Of the following, the work of harvesting involves:
3. Harvesting the grain when it is ripe.

The Provincial Museum of Alberta
The animal featured in the kill site diorama is a:
1. Bison
Melfort and District Museum Question
Of the following, the work of harvesting involves:
3. Harvesting the grain when it is ripe.

The Provincial Museum of Alberta
The animal featured in the kill site diorama is a:
1. Bison

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Relate intriguing facts about Canada
  • Increase their interest in Canadian history and culture
  • Gain an appreciation for the variety of museums in Canada

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