Exploring Saskatoon

Last summer on one of the rare days the infection in my leg was under control, I went out walking with Wendy in Mount Royal for several hours we our cameras.  We were just taking in the neighborhood and capturing some of the more interesting buildings (there are not a lot) for Bridge City.  Two things of note while on that walk.  Mount Royal has some of the widest streets in the city which totally messes with the scale of the neighborhood.  Mount Royal is for driving.  Secondly a week later someone asked me if  I was running provincially or municipally against Troy Davies as they had seen Wendy and I out door knocking.

The answer was that I am not running for either but I got a kick out of the observation and question.  I was out trying to get some shots on this ridiculous project I am trying and that is to document every neighborhood in Saskatoon of it’s interesting buildings.  In the process I am learning a lot about each neighborhood and what makes it tick.

Last weekend I created a shot list of almost 200 churches, buildings, and structures that I wanted to capture in 2016, all organized by neighborhood.  This means that if you see Wendy and I out, we are not door knocking or running for office but capturing some of the buildings in the neighborhood for Bridge City.  We have probably parked our car and are walking the neighborhood rather than driving it.

By far the worst neighborhood to photograph so far is Mount Royal.  Not only is it huge but it has several buildings in it that are worth shooting.  They are also evenly distributed across the neighborhood which means that you can’t park and knock off five or six of them quickly like you can in Nutana.  

The blandest neighborhood so far is either Lakeview.  Mostly residential, not much interesting other than Holy Spirit and the Lutheran church, cookie cutter schools, and the access to their lake is a bit of a pain to get into.  There are the McMansion’s but I don’t generally photograph not historic residential.  That and the Saskatoon Police really don’t care about me walking around downtown with a camera but I imagine there would be a call if I started snapping photos of people’s homes in the burbs.

Another one is Westview.  Gorgeous neighborhood with so much character but other than the park and a nameless strip mall, it has almost nothing of interest in it.  It’s weird, I’d like to live in it but it just isn’t that photographic.

Oddly enough, another one that I find bland is Montgomery.  It has the VIA Rail terminal in it but not much in terms of great non-residential architecture.  The school is bland and there isn’t any interesting other buildings.  In the end  I have walked a lot out there and haven’t really had a great payoff.  That being said, it is a great history lesson for Mark as I grill him on street names and why they were significant.

Perhaps the worst thing to capture are schools in that you can really only ever do it over the summer or on weekends.  Some (actually many) of their entrances face the wrong way which means you have limited light to get a good shot before they get overrun by shadows from the homes across the street or you are shooting into the sun.   There are also a couple of churches that are that way.  They face north and their design and landscaping means their entrance is really, really dark and hard to get a good picture of.   That and some are really ugly.  If I was the City of Saskatoon, I’d start banning the warehouse type churches that you see in some neighborhoods.  They really are atrocious.  If churches can’t build something that enhances the neighborhood (and most do), then maybe they should be restricted to the industrial areas if they want to build a warehouse.

Lastly, some of you share my obsession with the architects of great and not so great buildings in Saskatoon.  My biggest goal this spring is to find out a list of Saskatoon and Catholic school board architects without having to go into each school.  It seems to be a well guarded secret.

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