Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Mystique of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

[Image: Downtown_Moose_Jaw.jpg]

The Mystique of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

By Konomi Fujimiya
The Daily Magi
October 12, 2061


Moose Jaw (Assiniboine: tácehubana) is a city in south-central Saskatchewan, Canada on the Moose Jaw River. It is situated on the Trans-Canada Highway, 77 km (48 mi) west of Regina. Residents of Moose Jaw are known as Moose Javians. Best known as a retirement and tourist city, it serves as a hub to the hundreds of small towns and farms in the surrounding region of Saskatchewan. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Moose Jaw No. 161.

Marked on a map as Moose Jaw Bone Creek in an 1857 survey by surveyor John Palliser, two theories exist as to how the city got its name. The first is it comes from the Plains Cree name moscâstani-sîpiy meaning "a warm place by the river", indicative of the protection from the weather the Coteau range provides to the river valley containing the city and also the Plains Cree word moose gaw, meaning warm breezes. The other is on the map of the city, the Moose Jaw River is shaped like a moose's jaw.

Moose Jaw is an industrial centre and an important railway junction for the area's agricultural produce. It is known for its giant historical murals on the exterior walls of buildings in its business district, and its tunnels were used for rum-running during Prohibition. CFB Moose Jaw is a NATO flight training school, and is home to the Snowbirds, Canada's military aerobatic air show flight demonstration team. Moose Jaw also has a casino and geothermal spa.

Cree and Assiniboine people used the Moose Jaw area as a winter encampment. The Missouri Coteau sheltered the valley and gave it warm breezes. The narrow river crossing and abundance of water and game made it a good location for settlement. Traditional native fur traders and Métis buffalo hunters created the first permanent settlement at a place called "the turn", at present-day Kingways Park.

The intersection of the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek was chosen and registered in 1881 as a site for a division point for the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose construction was significant in Confederation of Canada. The water supply there was significant for steam locomotives. Settlement began there in 1882 and the city was incorporated in 1903. The railways played an important role in the early development of Moose Jaw, with the city having both a Canadian Pacific Railway Station and a Canadian National Railway Station. A dam was built on the river in 1883 to create a year-round water supply.

A network of underground tunnels connecting buildings in downtown Moose Jaw was constructed beginning around 1908. Its original purpose was to hide Chinese railway workers escaping persecution during the Yellow Peril or unable to pay the government-imposed head tax. Entire families lived in the tunnels and worked at above-ground businesses in exchange for food and supplies. The tunnels became a hub of renewed activity in the 1920s for rum-running during Prohibition in the United States. They were reported to have warehoused illegal alcohol that was then shipped to the U.S. via the Soo Line Railroad. The tunnels were also used for gambling and prostitution, all without interference from the corrupt police chief. There has long been anecdotal evidence that American mobster Al Capone had visited Moose Jaw or at least had interests in the bootlegging operations. Although no written or photographic proof exists of Capone's presence, several firsthand accounts from people in Moose Jaw who claim to have met him have been documented. Capone's grandniece also confirmed that he had been in Moose Jaw prior to his 1931 conviction for tax evasion. In 21st century, the city capitalized on this notoriety to restore the tunnel network into the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, a tourist attraction that opened in June 2000.

Moose Jaw has had many members of the Canadian Royal Family visit the city. Edward, Prince of Wales, who owned a ranch in Alberta, visited in 1919, 1924, and 1927. Prince Albert, future king and father of Queen Elizabeth II, paid a visit in 1926. King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (later known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) visited during the Royal tour in 1939. Queen Elizabeth II first visited in 1959, and has come to the city a few times since.

The Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) became Colonel-in-Chief of the Saskatchewan Dragoons of Moose Jaw on visiting Saskatchewan in 2003, when he congratulated the regiment on its "contribution to Canada's proud tradition of citizen-soldiers in the community." Involved in peacekeeping operations in Cyprus, the Golan Heights, Bosnia and Croatia, the regiment has also provided aid during floods and forest fires in the prairies. The Prince returned to visit his regiment in 2006.

The Earl of Wessex also inaugurated the Queen's Jubilee Rose Garden in Moose Jaw on his visit in 2003. Other royal connections to the city include King George School and Prince Arthur Community School, both named for members of the royal family. Before it shut down and became the separate Cornerstone Christian School, the South Hill school was formerly named King Edward Elementary School.

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