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Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 1903: Photos of a Community


Immigration and Settlement

Division/Grade Level:

Division I
Grades 1-3

Time Frame:

two 30-minute lessons

Lesson Overview:

This lesson uses a series of photographs taken in 1903 in the community of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to continue discussion of the concept of a community. Included in the collection are photos of the townsite, churches, a hotel, residents and visitors to the town, and the surrounding area. Students will be asked to look at how needs were satisfied in this community, and compare that to how the same needs are satisfied in their own community.

It is assumed that the students have already learned the concept of why and how a community is formed.

This lesson may be adapted for older students by using Beauties and Industries of Alberta, Illustrated in Photo-Gravure, and having the students do a comparison of the two communities. Other photographs may be also be obtained through the Peel Prairie Portal. See end of lesson for more detail.


Students will understand that throughout history communities have been formed to help a group of people meet its needs.


Students will:

  1. know that a community is a place where people live, work and play together;
  2. know that communities have always been important to help people satisfy their needs.


Students will:

  1. interpret pictorial materials;
  2. communicate orally and through writing;
  3. participate cooperatively in a group.


Students will:

  1. be encouraged to develop an attitude of respect for and understanding of different peoples, places and things;
  2. be encouraged to develop an appreciation of how the contributions of individuals in the past have led to the development of their community as it exists today.

Curricular Connections:

Social Studies
Language Arts

New Vocabulary:

  • souvenir
  • missionary
  • brewery
  • similar/different
  • service/facility

Peel Prairie Portal Resource Materials:

Other Resource Materials:

Developing the Lesson:

Introduction or Opening Activity

Ask the students the following questions:

  • What is a community?
  • What do you think communities were like long ago?
  • Would you find roads there? Houses? Schools? Parks?
  • Did the people long ago dress the same way that we do?
  • Do you think that they had the same kinds of jobs that we do?

Purpose of the Lesson:

Today we are going to look at a souvenir photo album of a community that existed over 100 years ago, and which still exists today.

Presentation of New Material:

Prince Albert was first established by Presbyterian missionaries in 1866. A group of 10 persons set out from the Red River area of Manitoba to build homes and to teach and preach somewhere in Saskatchewan. The settlers travelled for 39 days, and finally settled in what is now known as Prince Albert. The missionary, Mr. Nisbet, planned to set up schools for the aboriginal children in the area. He was also asked to provide education for the children of officers in the Hudson’s Bay Company.

More information may be found by reading The Indians of Western Canada (Baird, Andrew Browning).

Students will need to see the computer in order to view the individual photos contained in this collection.

Before examining the photos the class should examine a map of Canada and find Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. This can be viewed in relationship to the location of their own community. Is it further north? Further south? East or west of where they live now?

The teacher should work through the collection of photos page by page. Discuss the fact that these photos are 100 years old. Look for things that everyone recognizes: churches, police station, homes, tents, hotel, college, sawmill, grain elevator, courthouse.

What kinds of people lived in and around Prince Albert?
(Native Indians, lumber mill workers)

Check for Understanding

  • Why did the community of Prince Albert form where it did?
  • Whose needs would have had to be satisfied?
  • What kinds of needs would the people of Prince Albert have to satisfy 100 years ago? Would they need food? Clothing? Shelter?
  • Are these needs similar or different from the needs that we have today?
  • How are they similar or different? Do these photographs look similar or different to what we would find in our community today?

Independent Practice

Put students into groups of two or three.

The teacher should pre-select two or three photographs which they feel would be easiest for the class to use to examine needs. These can be printed and one photo distributed per group.

The teacher should photocopy the sentence stem handouts onto TWO different coloured sheets – white paper to be used for similar attributes of community needs then and now; coloured for different.

Task: Write 2 sentences for each picture. Look closely at the picture and try to find ONE thing that is the same today OR ONE thing that is different. Use the strips of coloured paper provided to write sentences about how this picture is different or how this picture is similar to what we do to satisfy our needs today. Use WHITE paper for things that are the same. Use COLOURED paper if are writing about things that are different.

Example: In Prince Albert the girls wore long dresses.
In our community girls wear pants and jeans.
(student would use coloured paper)

In Prince Albert people live in houses.
In our community people live in houses.
(student would use white paper)

Closing Activity:

Collect the sentences as written by the students. Organize them on chart paper — similar on one sheet and coloured on the other. Once again, emphasize that these photos are 100 years old. Discuss why some things would be so different.
Write a teacher-directed paragraph pulling students' observations together. An older group of students could write their own 3-4 sentence paragraphs.



Follow-Up Activities:

Search the Alberta Folklore site, the Heritage Site, or the Edmonton Archives site for old photos of your own community. Compare these photographs to those of Prince Albert. What could account for the differences?
Examine the additional Peel resource entitled Beauties and Industries of Alberta: Illustrated in Photo-Gravure. Compare these photographs to those of Prince Albert. What could account for the differences?

By E.A. Keith and S.J. Whyte