A Touch of Saskatoon History

Big Thinkers and Early Risers welcome Toastmasters, friends, and anyone curious about Toastmasters: Town Hall Meeting to celebrate Canada Day Thursday, June 29, 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. Speaker’s Corner beside Saskatoon City Hall To register for the $10 catered breakfast, e-mail cecop@sasktel.net by June 25. Or just show up for coffee and program. Bring a lawn chair. (If the weather is awful, we’ll meet in Mulberry’s Restaurant, across the street.)

On the south side of Saskatoon’s City Hall is an attractive water fountain, gardens, planters, a clock tower, flag poles and a plaza area containing a podium. Have you ever been there or attended a flag-raising ceremony? How did it come to be?

From 1988 to 2000, Mr. Henry Dayday, was our mayor. In 1989, Saskatoon City hosted the Summer Jeux Canada Games, and became the first city in Canada to have hosted the games
twice. (The first games took place in the winter when Mount Blackstrap was opened.) The summer games came after much preparation to beautify our city. Brickwork boulevards were
created along Spadina Crescent, and City Hall built an addition. The City Hall addition created a new front door facing Third Avenue. The original door which faced Twenty Third Street was closed.

In planning for this event and the building additions and renovations, member of the community were invited to submit suggestions.

Real Estate Agent and Toastmaster, Jim Weber submitted a proposal for a Speaker’s Corner on the steps outside the south side entrance. His plans included a lectern or podium to honor Toastmasters. In order to do this, Jim took the proposal to the Toastmasters District meeting in the fall of 1988. The motion to support this endeavour was defeated at the Toastmasters meeting because Toastmasters International in an organization dedicated to personal growth and self-improvement. It is not a service club and does not raise funds for such projects. The next thing that happened is that City Hall went ahead, accepted the idea and built the lectern as part of the Speaker’s Corner in the south side plaza at City Hall. Speaker’s Corner was inaugurated with the Opening Ceremonies of the bilingual 1989 Jeux Canada Games with no mention of Toastmasters.

It seemed to me that Toastmasters should in some way be recognized for this addition to our city, especially since the idea and plans originated with a Toastmaster. After the Games, a group of Toastmasters from several different clubs including Early Risers and Big Thinkers Clubs formed a planning committee We drew up a request to City Hall to place a plaque to recognize Toastmasters for its proposal for Speaker’s Corner; attained permission from Toastmasters International for use of the logo and motto; persuaded all Saskatoon Toastmasters Clubs to financially support the creation of a locally made plaque; and planned an event to unveil the plaque. In early July 1990, at 7 a.m. about 50 Toastmasters from the Saskatoon Clubs came together at Speaker’s Corner to have an outdoor breakfast, enjoy a meeting program and to unveil the bronze plaque which read, “Toastmasters International – For Better Listening, Better Thinking and Better Speaking. July 1990.”

You can still see the plaque which is attached, not to the lectern but to the water fountain right next to it today. You may need to pull aside some over-hanging shrubbery, but it is there. And Speaker’s Corner has been used by Toastmasters for a Breakfast Meeting at 7 a.m. annually just days before Canada Day ever since.

Flag Raising ceremonies are held at Speaker’s Corner.

By Alice Hanlin DTM

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