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Geographical Memorial Tributes

Geographical memorial tributes preserve the names of the many servicemen who lost their lives during World War II. Those names are shown on topographic maps of northern Saskatchewan. The mapping of the north was greatly advanced after World War II, when extensive aerial survey mapping was completed through vertical aerial photography. As a consequence of that process, geographic features across the north are now documented on thirty-five 1:250,000 (one centimetre representing four kilometres) maps and on the 560 more detailed 1:50,000 maps (two centimetres representing one kilometre). As post-war mineral exploration and other economic activities expanded across northern Saskatchewan, officially gazetted names appeared as geographic locations on these topographic maps, identifying many thousands of lakes, islands, bays, creeks and rapids - all unique geographic features. There are over 14,000 geographic features represented on provincial maps by officially gazetted names; this collage of names represents part of Saskatchewan's heritage.

Some 3,862 of these geographic features in northern Saskatchewan were named i7n memory of the province's servicemen who lost their lives in World War II. Between 1939 and 1945, a total of 91,000 men and women from Saskatchewan enlisted in the war effort; more than 4,000 of these did not make it home again. The naming of geographic features in their honour was a fitting tribute by the province.

Letters written to the families of these men and women by the provincial government in the 1950s and 1960s acknowledge the sacrifice they had made during World War II. These letters and signed certificantes describe how specific geographic features were named as a perpetual sign of our collective indebtedness to those who gave their lives in defence of democratic ideals. Although the provincial government tried to contact the families of all those so honoured, many families remained unaware of this until recent years. In 1997 Doug Chisholm, a bush pilot in La Ronge, started to research the location of these features and has recorded on aerial photos most of the nearly 4,000 geo-memorial sites. The names of those memorialized, along with their hometowns, their casualty dates, and the location of the geographic feature named in their memory are now found in the book Their Names Live On. Over the years, many families have taken the initiative to visit these specific geo-memorial sites or have made arrangements to have permanent memorial markers placed there.

Doug Chisholm

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Further Reading

Chisholm, Doug, and Gerald Hill. 2001. Their Names Live On: Remembering Saskatchewan's Fallen in World War II. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center; Fung, K.I. 1999. Atlas of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan.
This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
Ce site Web a été conçu grâce à l'aide financière de
Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.