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river, c.340 mi (550 km) long, formed by the confluence of the North Saskatchewan (c.760 mi/1,220 km long) and the South Saskatchewan (c.550 mi/890 km long) rivers near Prince Albert, central Sask., Canada; the system drains most of the Canadian prairie provinces. It flows generally east past Nipawin, across the Manitoba line, then past The Pas and through Cedar Lake to Lake Winnipeg. The North Saskatchewan River rises in the Columbia ice field at the foot of Mt. Saskatchewan, SW Alta., and flows generally east past Edmonton, into Saskatchewan prov., and then past North Battleford to Prince Albert. Its chief tributaries are the Clearwater, Brazeau, Vermillion, and Battle rivers. The South Saskatchewan River is formed in S Alberta by the junction of the Bow and Oldman rivers. It flows east past Medicine Hat, then northeast into Saskatchewan prov., past Saskatoon, to Prince Albert; it receives the Red Deer River. The Bow–South Saskatchewan–Saskatchewan system is c.1,200 mi (1,930 km) long. Completion (1967) of the Gardiner and Qu'Appelle Valley dams, major elements of the South Sasketchewan River Project, impound Lake Diefenbaker, a huge reservoir. The dams and reservoir provide hydroelectric power and irrigation for a large region south of Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan River and its branches were once important thoroughfares for explorers and trappers.


(səskăch`əwən, –wän', săs'–), province (2001 pop. 978,933), 251,700 sq mi (651,903 sq km), W Canada.


Saskatchewan is bounded by the Northwest Territories (N), Manitoba (E), North Dakota and Montana (S), and Alberta (W). One of the Prairie Provinces, its northern third is part of the Canadian ShieldCanadian Shield
or Laurentian Plateau
, U-shaped region of ancient rock, the nucleus of North America, stretching N from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean. Covering more than half of Canada, it also includes most of Greenland and extends into the United States as the
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. The principal rivers are the Churchill, North and South Saskatchewan, and Qu'Appelle. Between the Saskatchewan and Churchill rivers lies a mixed forest belt that provides much timber; a section is preserved as Prince Albert National Park.

Only in S Saskatchewan has there been substantial settlement and development. ReginaRegina
, city (1991 pop. 179,178), provincial capital, S Sask., Canada, on Wascana Creek. The city is the distribution and service center for one of the world's largest wheat-growing areas.
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 is the capital and second largest city; SaskatoonSaskatoon
, city (1991 pop. 186,058), S central Sask., Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River. The largest city in the province, it is the chief manufacturing and distribution center for central and N Saskatchewan.
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 is the largest city, and Prince AlbertPrince Albert,
city (1991 pop. 34,181), central Sask., Canada, on the North Saskatchewan River. Prince Albert is a commercial and distribution center for a lumbering, gold- and uranium-mining, and mixed-farming area. There are wood-products and meatpacking industries.
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 and Moose JawMoose Jaw,
city (1991 pop. 33,593), S central Sask., Canada. It is a railroad and distribution center, with oil refineries, meatpacking and dairy-processing plants, flour, lumber, and woolen mills, stockyards, and Canada's largest jet-training base.
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 are other important centers.

Economy and Higher Education

Except for a semiarid section in the southwest used for grazing and an area in the east and central portion given over to mixed farming and dairying, the land is devoted to the raising of hard wheat. Saskatchewan normally produces two thirds of Canada's wheat. The vast expanses of unbroken plain are well suited to large-scale mechanized farming. Oats, barley, rye, rapeseed, and flax are also grown throughout this region. The historic occupation of fur trapping is still practiced.

Saskatchewan is rich in minerals. Oil and natural gas, found under the prairie, are by far the province's most important minerals. The region north of Lake Athabaska has been exploited for ores yielding uranium. The area around Flin Flon, in the northeast, is mined for copper, zinc, and gold. Coal is mined in the southwest. Potash mining began in the 1950s near Saskatoon and Esterhazy, and Canada is now a leading producer of the mineral. Most of the province's industries process raw materials.

Institutions of higher education include Aldergate College, at Moose Jaw; the Univ. of Regina; and the Univ. of Saskatchewan, at Saskatoon.

History and Politics

Original inhabitants of Saskatchewan include tribes of three linguistic groups: the Athabascan, Algonquian, and Siouan. Henry Kelsey of the Hudson's Bay Company was probably the first European to see (c.1690) the area. The earliest trading posts were established (c.1750) by the French, but the first permanent settlement was made at Cumberland House in 1774 by the HBC. Subsequently many other posts were set up by British fur traders along the region's waterways.

In 1870 the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), which had merged with the North West Company in 1821, ceded its rights to the Canadian government, and the area became part of the Northwest Territories. The construction of a rail line (1882) brought many settlers from E Canada (and later from Europe) and opened up trade through the Great Lakes ports. Most Canadians of indigenous descent in the Northwest Territories sold their lands to the government in the 1870s and were placed on reservations. Other native peoples and Métis—people of mixed French and indigenous Canadian ancestry, led by Louis RielRiel, Louis
, 1844–85, Canadian insurgent, leader of two rebellions, b. Manitoba, of French and Métis parentage. In 1869–70 he led the rebels of the Red River settlements, mainly Métis (people of mixed European–indigenous descent) and indigenous
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—rebelled in 1884–85 and were suppressed.

Saskatchewan became a province in 1905. In the early 20th cent. Saskatchewan farmers formed cooperative organizations to stabilize grain marketing. During the drought and depression of the 1930s the population declined as immigration almost stopped and many families left. Conservation programs and the increased demand for grain during World War II revived the economy.

Except for the period 1964–71, when the Liberals were in power, Saskatchewan was governed (1944–82) by the socialist New Democratic party (NDP, until 1961 called the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation). Among the NDP's achievements was the enactment of compulsory hospital and medical insurance. The Progressive Conservative party, with Grant Divine as premier, was in power from 1982 until 1991, when Roy Romanow led the NDP back to power (in coalition with the Liberals after 1999). In 2001, Lorne Calvert of the NDP became premier, succeeding Romanow, who resigned. The 2003 elections also resulted in an NDP victory, giving the party a slim majority in the legislative assembly. In 2007 the Saskatchewan party, a center-right party formed in 1997, won a legislative majority and Brad Wall became premier; Wall led the party to victories in 2011 and 2016 as well. Wall retired in 2018, and Scott Moe succeeded him as premier.

Saskatchewan sends 6 senators and 14 representatives to the national parliament.


See E. A. McCourt, Saskatchewan (1968); S. M. Lipset, Agrarian Socialism (new and enl. ed. 1972); D. E. Smith, Prairie Liberalism (1975); J. H. Archer, Saskatchewan: A History (1980); Canadian Plains Research Centre, The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan (2005).



a province in southern central Canada. Area, 651,900 sq km; population, 962,000 (1971), 53 percent of which is urban. The capital and largest city is Regina.

Saskatchewan is situated between the Laurentian Upland in the north and the High Plains in the south. The main river is the Saskatchewan. The northeast of the province has coniferous forests, and the southwest forest-steppe and steppes.

Saskatchewan contains one-third of Canada’s agricultural lands and accounts for approximately one-half of the country’s wheat harvest, two-thirds of the rye and oat harvests, and one-third of the barley, flax, and rape harvests. Animal husbandry includes the raising of cattle (2.6 million head in 1971), hogs, and poultry. Agricultural production is concentrated on large, highly mechanized farms.

Mineral production in Saskatchewan includes large-scale potassium salt mining (Esterhazy, Saskatoon, Belle-Plaine), oil and helium extraction (Swift Current), copper mining (La Ronge), and the extraction of uranium concentrates (Uranium City, Lake Wollaston). The main branches of the manufacturing industry are the food industry, including flour milling, meat canning, and butter production, the chemical industry, ferrous metallurgy (pipes), agricultural machine building (tractors), and oil refining. Prince Albert and Meadow Lake have woodworking and pulp-and-paper industries.




a river in southern Canada. The Saskatchewan is formed by the confluence of the North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan rivers, which originate in the Rocky Mountains. It flows over the High and Central plains and empties into Lake Winnipeg (Hudson Bay basin). The river is 544 km long; measured from the source of the South Saskatchewan, it is 1,928 km long. It drains a total area of 385,000 sq km.

The Saskatchewan is fed primarily by snow. High water is from June to August. The water level is extremely low from December through March. The river freezes in early November, and the ice breaks up in late April. The mean annual flow rate at The Pas is 780 cu m per sec. The total length of the navigable sections of the river and its tributaries is 1,450 km. The North and South Saskatchewan rivers and their tributaries are used for irrigation. The cities of Edmonton and Prince Albert are on the North Saskatchewan, and the city of Saskatoon is on the South Saskatchewan.


1. a province of W Canada: consists of part of the Canadian Shield in the north and open prairie in the south; economy based chiefly on agriculture and mineral resources. Capital: Regina. Pop.: 995 391 (2004 est.). Area: 651 900 sq. km (251 700 sq. miles)
2. a river in W Canada, formed by the confluence of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers: flows east to Lake Winnipeg. Length: 596 km (370 miles)
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