Welcome!

This site is dedicated to keeping the memory of the Saskatchewan pioneers alive by documenting the houses, barns, churches, schools and final resting places of people who have gone before us.

This site is run by a team of non-profit authors and contributors who aim to keep the past alive for future generations.

I'm sure someone thought of this before I did but:
"If you want to know where you are going, you need to know where you came from."

Each item contains a GPS location, either exact or approximate, and can be viewed with Google Maps by clicking on the appropriate link on the left side.

You can view all the items we have found on a map by clicking "View album on a map" on the home page. You can also filter which items you see by clicking on an album and then clicking the "View Album on a map" once inside an album.

We will make every effort to include as much information as we can about the places we find in the hopes that this reaches a wider audience. We hope connections can be made to past, present into the future.

When you click on a location the pictures we have taken will appear in the center and any statistical information will be displayed on top of the navigation bar on the left. More detailed information will appear above the photos.

If you have any questions, comments, hot tips, or concerns, please email me @: tuxsteve(at)gmail(dot)com

New Map System

I have spent a great deal of time since this project began trying to invent a better way of tracking my movements and keeping the data in an easy to use format. This has progressed through Google Maps, Scribblemaps and I am now running my own solution based on OpenLayers, QGIS and Postgresql.


The Physical Hardware

When I go out on a day trip I take:

- My camera (Canon Rebel XS)
- Laptop (Lenovo Thinpad T420)
- Cell phone (Google Nexus 5)
- Bluetooth GPS (A+ 737 GPS Unit)


The Software

Under the hood I use the following software to make this all happen:

OpenLayers
Provides a browser agnostic, mobile friendly map to display data points and tracks on. The road map data is provided by OpenStreetMap. The data from my site is provided by QGIS Server which runs on the web server.

QGIS (Quantum GIS)
Provides a canvas to work on and a seamless way to make changes to the Postgres DB underneath.
Contains a server component that provides WMS services to OpenLayers or any other WMS compatible software

Postgresql
The only free database that I know of that can be GIS enabled. This contains all the point data and track lines.

PostGIS
The GIS extensions for Postgres

I have also inserted a number of other datasets in the database to aid me with navigation in the field from the following places:
OpenStreetMap
From this body of data I utilize the following layers:
- Places
- Railways
- Roads

GeoBase
- Municipalities / RM Boundaries

GeoSask
- Quarter Sections
- Wetland
- Water Course
- Water Body
- Topography

These are most helpful when determining the navigability of a road and how far I might expect to get before it ends, or if it's a dead end.


How it's all connected

When I set out, I power up my laptop and turn on the GPS unit. Once the GPS unit and the laptop are paired and connected, the GPS unit is presented to the OS as a serial device. I start up QGIS and load up my project file which in turn connects to the Postgres database on the laptop.

Once all the data is loaded I connect QGIS to the GPS serial device and it begins recording where I drive.

When I locate an interesting place, I add that location to the database and photograph it. The only places I am photographing with my Canon are cemetery headstones since my cell phone is capable of GPS tagging the pictures it takes whereas the Canon cannot. My phone simply doesn't have the space for hundreds of headstone photos however and I don't want them synced up to Google either, eating up my data plan.

At the end of the day, when I get home, or I am packing up the equipment to go home, I close QGIS and power off the GPS unit. I then tether my laptop to my cell phone and run a Powershell script I have which takes a copy of the database and transfers it home to the web server. The data I captured that day is then instantly available on the web site map.

I usually wait until I get home to upload the photos since they are usually larger in size and can be quite numerous if I've visited lots of cemeteries.


Things still left to do

- Figure out how to insert URLs into the OpenLayers map so users can click on a place and be sent to the photo album. For now I've enabled the labels so you can see what they're called.

I may add more here later but for now, that's an overview of how I do things.

Photographing Homesteads

As of November 2011 I am now a home owner and as such finances have taken a huge hit.

I recently spent the 24th and 25th of Sept 2012 travelling around north of Regina and out near Lake Diefenbaker in search of the past. It amazes me how many houses, barns and related buildings are still standing after nearly 100 years of prairie weather and abuse.

Because my finances have recently become so limited, I have made the very tough decision to stop marking and photographing old homesteads. I will still leave the avenue open to folks to contact me and make special requests to have a site photographed and I would be happy to do so. The staggering number of old building still standing makes this work seem as though it should be, no, has to be a full time job instead of something I do on my EDOs and time off from work.

There are approximately 250,000KM of road in Saskatchewan! I have clocked maybe 2000 of that...

... 0.008%

... in the last 5 years.

As you can imagine, from where I'm standing, this appears to be a job that will never end.

I love this province and its many faces and the history it holds. When I started this project I considered it "my life's work" since I was well aware of the magnitude of the scale of work I was trying to take on on my own.

My father has been a source of information and photographs and I thank him for that. I was also contacted by Lynn Leibel recently who has offered to transcribe headstones for me in the cemeteries section of the site.

But I need more help, I need folks who live in different areas of the province to contribute, places I cannot go unless I plan to stay for days, maybe a week at a time.

Something I can't do right now.

The work will continue but much more slowly than in the last two years.

If you would like to help, please use the Contact Us tab.

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