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(Unless otherwise indicated, photos by Don of www.WascanaPark.com)
The Surveyors' Monument located south of Pine Island, is dedicated to the surveyors of Canada and Saskatchewan whose skill and industry contributed to the exploration, mapping and development of our nation.
The monument was designed in 1967 by Jack Walker, Wascana Centre Authority's Director of Maintenance and Development at the time. The Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association proposed this project in recognition of Canada's Centennial. The Surveyor's Monument is a unique symbol dedicated to surveying in the past, present and future.
The upper portion of the monument symbolizes and is, in fact, a surveyor's lookout. This site is the first station in a unified system of precisely co-ordinated survey points. There are eleven other survey monuments located across Canada, but this site is the control survey location for all of Saskatchewan.
Along the stairwell of the monument are two plaques listing the members of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association as of 1967 and 1985.
The lower portion of the monument, a shelter close to the lakeshore, has been designed to represent the campsite that early surveyors and explorers would have made every night of their mapping expeditions.
In the centre of this area is a cairn containing a time capsule which was sealed in 1967. The time capsule contains governmental reports, photographs of buildings, personal letters from Saskatchewan's 1967 Cabinet Ministers and former Premier Ross Thatcher, a 1967 license plate and telephone book, flags of Saskatchewan and Canada, samples of wheat varieties, minerals and oil. Newspapers are also enclosed, including one article headlining the Saskatchewan Roughrider Grey Cup win in 1966.
The time capsule will be opened on Canada's anniversary in the years 2067, 100 years after it was sealed. The cairn was dedicated on March 29, 1968.
The three sandcastings on the lower wall of the monument also have historical significance. These three sandcastings were created in 1967 by Ernie Scheer (1932-2004) a long-time employee of Wascana Centre Authority.
The surveyor and transit represent the commencement of township surveys within Saskatchewan-the laying of the municipal boundaries in 1878.
The surveyors who mapped and developed our province did so while still roamed the plains ... and a buffalo hunt would have been a common sight.
In 1885, during the Riel Rebellion, the land surveyors were dubbed the Special Intelligence Corps; and were hired by the Canadian military to lead reconnaissance missions because they knew the land so well.
The surveyor and his guides in the canoe represent the first exploration of Canada and Saskatchewan in 1801. David Thompson was one of the first surveyors. In those day , transportation was either by horse or canoe.
He also held the title of Safety Director for ten years where he prepared a series of lectures known as "Tool Box Talks", drew all the safety posters and created a slide presentation on safety based on his drawings.
Ernie was instrumental in developing the concrete mix used for the barbecues and waste containers located throughout Wascana Centre and, in 1967, was given the challenge of constructing the three sandcastings of the early survey pioneers.
Then, using a set of metal measuring spoons, he scooped out the sand along his sketch lines to make a mold for the concrete. This is what created the three-dimensional effect. It was quite a challenge to make the mold, not only did Ernie have to constantly water down the sand in order to keep the detail, but he had to "think in reverse" to create the images from the inside out and use varying depths of sand to make the whole picture look natural. When he was satisfied with the sand mold he had constructed, he carefully scooped in a type of watery cement and slowly filled all the crevices in the sand.
A grid of metal rods was built on the back and another layer of stronger cement was poured over it to add strength. When all the cement was dry, usually after a two day period, the cement block was lifted from the sandbox, the sand brushed off and the completed sandcasting was ready to attach to the monument.
The three sandcastings took Ernie, who worked in his spare time, about five months to complete. Unfortunately, he forgot to sign his masterpieces.