Category Archives: Media

A.H. Browne – Saskatoon’s 1st Park Superintendent

A wonderful news article about A.H. Browne.

He was Saskatoon’s first park superintendent in 1911.

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/saskatoon/Park+boss+leaves+beautiful+indelible+mark+city/10203563/story.html

Joan Browne has a blue spruce in her yard that is taller than the University Bridge. There are five cedars and two chokecherries, a bur oak and a caragana. Her dad planted them as saplings and seedlings when he lived in this house in the 1950s.

Alfred Henry Browne — people called him A.H. — planted trees everywhere in the city. A native of London, England who trained as a gardener’s apprentice at the Downside Abbey in Somerset in his teens, he became Saskatoon’s first park superintendent in 1911. He ran the parks for 42 years, retiring to this two-storey house on a street in City Park in 1953. He died in 1957 at age 74.

“When I see parks I think of him,” said Joan, who is in her 90s. “I think about the happy life I had with him. He was a wonderful father and grandfather.”

Hilary Borton of Regina is one of the grandchildren. She and her husband Gary visited aunt Joan on a recent weekend. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Hilary and Joan sat at the kitchen table near a window facing the back yard.

“I have a clear memory of him,” said Hilary, who grew up in Kindersley and Regina. Her mother Margaret was the oldest of A.H.’s three children, all daughters. “He’d throw pennies in the gravel, making a game of pick-up for us to play.

“He loved taking us to the Forestry Farm. He took me and (my brother) Greg to Waskesiu lots of times.”

A.H. kept a pond in his yard stocked with goldfish. He raised birds at home, including peacocks that looked as sharp as the wide-brimmed hat he wore all the time.

“I remember seeing all this,” Hilary said. “As a six-, seven-year-old kid this was really neat stuff.”

Hilary and Joan know A.H’s story.

They know he had only one sibling, a brother, Will, in England who used a wheelchair all his life.

They know A.H.’s daughter Dorothy died in Saskatoon when she was four.

They know A.H.’s wife Esther died a year later, only months after Joan was born.

They know how A.H. dealt with personal loss. He parked his problems. He smiled and looked ahead. For him, planting trees was a joy, not a job. His satisfaction; our reward.

“I would like to know what the city was like before he came here,” Joan said. “I know what it’s like after. He came to the prairies and made it beautiful.”

Said Hilary: “He had vision. You see what he did even if you don’t know who he was.”

A.H. is all around us in Saskatoon.

Kiwanis Park near the Bessborough Hotel was his idea. So were the trees and the picture postcard landscape on the other side of the river across from Kiwanis.

Remember the stream lagoon in Kinsmen Park? A.H. started it. The stream is gone, but Kinsmen Park goes on. Having a spread of natural green in the concrete and glass of downtown Saskatoon is a product of his fertile mind.

Trees are rooted in on Saskatchewan Crescent, their trunks almost as wide as a Chevy pick-up. The trees weren’t always there. Nature didn’t happen by chance. They are there because of A.H. and his colleague Wyndham Winkler Ashley. They planted elms and maples.

“People would knock on our door, always at supper time, and ask dad if he would come over and look at their yard, design a flower bed for them,” Joan said. “ ‘Maybe not tonight,’ he said, but he’d be there tomorrow. He made time for everybody.”

Said Hilary: “He’d go to small town fairs and judge plants. I like the story he told about a time he judged a bunch of cauliflowers. It makes me laugh. He said when he picked up a cauliflower the white came off. They had put baby powder on it to make it look really white.”

Civic leaders around Canada soon came calling. They asked A.H. to move to their city, to do there what he was doing here. He stayed in Saskatoon. Saskatoon is home.

Saskatoon is Joan’s place.

The family lived on 16th Street in her youth, a few blocks from A.H.’s greenhouse/office on Avenue H. Joan went to elementary school at King George and to high school at Bedford Road Collegiate. After graduating from school she worked for the Board of Grain Commissioners. She became a teacher, first in Perdue, then at Walter Murray Collegiate. She taught English and typing and bookkeeping.

She had a garden. She still does.

“I just love to dig around the yard,” Joan said. “I like trees — the height, the colour, the look, the shade.”

Hilary gardens, too.

“I like to get dirt under my fingernails,” Hilary said.

As the tree is bent, so is the twig inclined.

In the Mayfair neighbourhood in Saskatoon is a park a block long. The park has a spray pool and a hill. There are spruce trees and maple trees, basswood and lilac. Most of us call the place simply “the park.” A wooden sign at the corner of 37th Street and Avenue E says this is A.H. Browne Park, named after him.

Even if we see the name on the sign we don’t know the man. But his spirit is throughout Saskatoon. It’s in the trees.

“He’s like the sea,” Hilary said. “He lives on forever.”

Virtual Sask Visits Mayfair Hardware

A neighbourhood institution

The result is a continued trade in Mayfair’s basic hardware products, fine-tuned to meet the needs of people who live in older homes in the Mayfair and Caswell Hill neighborhoods that flank the store on the north and south. Mayfair doesn’t carry any plastic plumbing pipes, for instance, ‘it’s all the old galvanized stuff’.

But those are needful things. Mayfair is also the kind of place where you can drop in, browse around and almost always find things that surprise, delight or amuse: Parcheesi games, Mother Goose figurines, horses with clocks in their stomachs, old-fashioned washboards, knives that cut through shoes, pot-mending kits. . .

Thomas admits his buying decisions today are based more on personal curiosity than the likelihood any particular item will become a hot seller. Yet invariably, according to McHargue, things that tickle Thomas’ fancy have the same effect on his customers.

“We’ll say to him: ‘What are you bringing this stuff here for?’,” says McHargue. “But it’s amazing how it sells.”

Jean Wrightson, a Caswell Hill resident, has been coming to Mayfair for years. She spoke of a special trellis Thomas found for her and a home-improvement project that kept McHargue and another Mayfair employee named Leo Mareschal occupied at Wrightson’s house during every spare moment of an entire summer.

“If you want anything,” says Wrightson, “you come to Bruce’s.”

Mayfair and city hall divided over permanent traffic diverter

From CKOM News

City of saskatoon fb traffic diverter avenue c 38 street march 12 2013 3

A temporary traffic diverter in Mayfair for the last 18 months could become permanent.

The city’s transportation department installed a temporary diverter at the intersection of Avenue C and 38th Street after receiving complaints about shortcutting traffic speeding through Avenue C to get to Circle Drive and the airport, said manager Angela Gardiner.

“We went out to the public with a few different options and this (diverter) was the option preferred by the residents in attendance, so we pursued it as a temporary measure and we’ve now confirmed that yes it has addressed the concerns that were brought to our attention,” said Gardiner.

Gardiner’s department is recommending a permanent diverter after monitoring traffic patterns in the area. She will present her recommendations to the Planning and Operations committee on Tuesday.

The recommendation comes following a neighbourhood survey mailed out in October. Of more than 1,500 handed out, only 191 were returned.

Twenty per cent of the 191 supported the permanent diverter, while 80 per cent were against it, according to a city report.

Robert Rudachyk is the president of the Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair community association. He is amongst the 80 per cent not in favour. He said the diverter was a bad idea to begin with, and installing a permanent diverter is the worst thing the city can do.

“What they should have done is cut the corners of the (Avenue C/38th St) intersection and put a roundabout planter in the middle so vehicles have to slow down to get around it without impeding traffic flows in either direction,” said Rudachyk.

Rudachyk is also concerned with where the traffic from Avenue C is being diverted to. With an outdoor playground and splash-park at the A. H. Browne Park, he said doubling the amount of vehicles down that road is dangerous.

“All these people rushing to get to where they need to go are flying past an area where kids in the neighbourhood play,” he said.

Gardiner said many respondents who opposed the permanent diverter expressed did so in light of what was happening on Avenue D.

“While they said they were opposed, they were opposed for specific reasons and those specific reasons were mostly on Avenue D and we have addressed those concerns with additional traffic-calming and including some stop signs and yield signs,” said Gardiner.

At the moment, traffic-calming measure include speed limit signage, temporary curb extensions and zebra crosswalk on Avenue D North and 37th Street to improve pedestrian safety.

The recommendation will be presented and debated on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in council chambers.

City to divert traffic from Ave. C to stop shortcutting

From David Hutton at The StarPhoenix

The city is going to make it harder for drivers use Ave. C in Mayfair as a shortcut to the airport area and Circle Drive.

A traffic diverter will be installed at 38th Street and Ave. C North to move motorists to use collector roads such as 36th Street or 38th Street, Ave. I North or Idylwyld Drive.

The traffic calming measures, which the city considers temporary while it is being tested, will effectively block north-south traffic on Ave. C and east-west traffic on 38th Street at the intersection.

Ave. C, a residential street, has more than triple the traffic of adjacent streets on its residential section and more than 10 times the traffic between the commercial area between 39th Street and 40th Street.

Yield signs will also be installed at all uncontrolled intersections in the Mayfair neighbourhood, the city report says. The right of way will rotate between the streets and avenues to further calm traffic.

The city rejected several ideas that were discussed at an open house over summer. Speed humps won’t be installed because a speed study showed that 85 per cent of motorists travel 44 km/h or less. The humps would also delay emergency vehicles and cause discomfort for drivers.

A cul-de-sac located between 39th Street and 41st Street that would restrict all traffic except transit and emergency vehicles would be “too restrictive,” the report says.

“Speed is an issue as is the volume,” said Coun. Darren Hill. “People are using this as a shortcut.”

The plan will be on the agenda Tuesday night at city council.