Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 2, Spring 2007, pp. 140-41.
Saskatchewan celebrated its centennial as a Canadian province in 2005, and the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan resulted from the admirable desire to make a lasting commemoration of that milestone. When one considers that the project had a tortured history of chronic underfunding, and, as a result, failed to engage many in the scholarly community, the final product, flawed though it might be, is still a remarkable success.
The goal of the Encyclopedia, publisher David Gauthier informs readers in an introductory preamble, was to create "a substantial memorial to the people of Saskatchewan that highlights their achievements and provide a comprehensive synthesis of the people, places and events that have helped to shape the province." The resultant reference work contains over 2,000 entries and more than 1,000 photographs in just under 1,100 pages of text. Twenty-one "theme essays" written by "noted experts" (a questionable claim in some instances) provide an overview of such broad topics as aboriginal peoples, women, arts and culture, labor, and science and technology.
The individual entries indeed offer a potpourri for the inquisitive-from the Autonomy Bills of 1905 and the Avalokitesvara Buddhist Temple Society to the Trans-Hudson Orogen (the geological remains of a 1.8 billion-year-old mountain range) and Treaty 6. In a project of such magnitude compressed into a single volume, it is no wonder some entries one might have expected to see had to be left out and others reduced in scale. Those were difficult editorial decisions. But the readily apparent inconsistency in the selection of topics covered is disturbing.