Heritage Quarterly Saskatchewan - Legacy of Stone

A New Legacy for Saskatchewan's Built Heritage
Reviewed by: Joe Ralko

Legacy of Stone, a 224-page lavishly-illustrated book about Saskatchewan stone buildings, has received critical acclaim and has become so popular that it has gone into a third printing.

It was honored as the 2009 Book of Year in the recent Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a finaish in the High Plains Book Awards in Billings, Montana.

"We wanted to show our built heritage is second to none in Canada," explained construction historian and archivist Frank Korvemaker.

"People from other parts of the country sometimes think that all we have out here is bald Prairie. We have a rich architectural history and we are proud of our achievements and of our preservation record." 

In 1991 Marg Hryniuk approached Korvemaker to co-author a book. Time passed, and following an unsolicited career change which resulted in his moving to the Saskatchewan Archives Board, Frank felt compelled to roll up his sleeves on the oft-delayed project. 

"In 2004, when I moved to Archives, I was a bit at loose ends," said Korvemaker. "I needed something to keep me busy in historic buildings."

Hryniuk had written two previous books, one on Government House and the other about pre-1914 homes in Regina, and was interested in another project with a built heritage focus.

"I wanted a book about stone buildings," Marg said which prompted Frank to reply: "I wanted a book about brick buildings."

Korvemaker writes the Brick by Brick column in Heritage Quarterly Saskatchewan.

He contacted Garth Pugh at the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation to botain permission to review the six binders of work collected and collated by Cec Hayward on stone buildings in Saskatchewan.

"We knew we wanted to do a "coffee-table style" book with lots of pictures. But we wanted really good stories to tell as well. That was our criteria for selection," Frank said.

Hryniuk had seen an image on the Regina Photo Club website by Larry Easton that she thought would be ideal for the book approached to Ft. Qu'Appelle-based professional photographer about joining the project.

Easton met with Hryniuk and Korvemaker in March of 2005 to study the Hayward binders and begin to plan what new photography would be required.

"I had already photographed a few stone buildings previous to all this such as the Bell Barn and Motherwell Homestead in 1996 and the Moffat stone houses, one being the Francis Pow farmhouse, that became the book cover," Easton recalled.

"I photographed a house and a stone church south of Abernethy on April 14, 2005, which were the first buildings photographed as part of the project. The rest is history."

The trio began networking with family, friends and associates across the province to set up interviews for Hryniuk to conduct.

Every individual who provided information to them is ackowledged in the book.

"I lined up interviews and sometimes people wouldn't answer the door when I showed up," she said. "So, we'd move on to another building because we wanted people to tell us stories not us write about stone buildings."

Another criteria for the book was that the photography had to be a blend for all seasons. Sometimes, greenery, shrubs and trees would obscure a decent camera angle in the summer but would provide a great sight line in winter.

"These buildings are beautiful with some dating back into the 1880s," Frank told Heritage Quarterly Saskatchewan one Saturday afternoon over a cup of coffee in the living room of Hryniuk's Old Lakeview home in Regina.

"There are sketches and photographs in the Saskatchewan archives of dozens of stone buildings, as well as histories and anecdotes. This is part of the Archives' contribution to preserving the history of Saskatchewan's built heritage."

The group attended the Saskatchewan Book Awards gala with their publisher, Coteau Books, not expecting to win because other finalists included authors with multiple book awards including Maggie Siggins, author of a book about Louis Riel's grandmother, and Trevor Herrito, a two-time finalist for the Governor General's award.

"It was wonderfully surprising," Korvemaker said. "When the master of ceremonies announced the winner, all I heard was 'Legacy of' and then it was bedlam."

"When you set out to write a book you never do so to win awards, you do so to tell interesting stories," said Hryniuk. "Winning Book of the Year, I must say, is very nice for us and for built heritage in Saskatchewan."

Legacy of Stone had already become a commercial success prior to the book award win, entering its third printing before the gala.

"Legacy of Stone is another example of the diversity in the types of books published in Saskatchewan," said Jackie Lay, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

"The fact that it won the Book of the Year award speaks volumes about its excellence in all aspects of the books content. Margaret, Frank, Larry and Coteau books should be proud of the work they put into this unique project recognizing the history of Saskatchewan's stone buildings, and for it being the first of its kind."

Although the original hard cover copies are basically sold out, the new third edition soft cover copies have just been released and are available for $29.95. Copies are available at boostores and through Architectural Heritage Saskatchewan, which provided a small grant to help promote the release of the book.

Legacy of Stone features more than 175 full colour images and numerous stories of some of Saskatchewan's most impressive stone buildings, along with historical notes on some of the builders who made them.

In owrds and studding colour pictures, this book tells the history and the current reality of approximately 50 fieldstone buildings in Saskatchewan.

The book includes an introduction by Bernie Flaman, the former provincial heritage architect, an historical overview, and profiles of several of Saskatchewan's most prominent stone masons.

The balance of the book is made up of profiles of the buildings - farmhouses, homes in urban communities, places of worship, public buildings and ruins. 

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