Saturday, September 27, 2008

Summer Holiday: Moose Jaw

This is Mac The Moose. He stands guard on the outskirts of Moose Jaw in the parking lot to the Tourism Information Centre. When we got to Moose Jaw, our first stop was at the Tourist Information Centre. As visitors to Moose Jaw we were given a parking pass that entitled us to park worry free anywhere in town for the day--no parking tickets would be issued if we displayed our parking pass.
We headed out from the Information center armed with details of what was available to see in town for the day.
The first stop was the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. This is a picture of the sign across the street from the entrance to the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. This is intended to be a replica of the car owned by Al Capone.

Moose Jaw's downtown was plagued by a number of fires in the 1800's. In 1892, a bylaw was passed by city council which made it mandatory for buildings in the downtown core to be constructed of brick and that these buildings be heated with boilers. Because boiler men needed to have their fireman's papers, there was a shortage of qualified people. Businesses would band together to hire one man to look after several boilers. This required their buildings to be interconnected. So that is what the tunnels first started out as--interconnecting spaces beneath the buildings.

The existence of the tunnels below the city of Moose Jaw were denied by the founding fathers of Moose Jaw for 75 years. Then one day, a heavy truck collapsed the pavement on Main Street and disappeared into a large hole. The underground maze of tunnels and the stories of a Chinese ghetto and Al Capone's gangsters were out.

The tours feature guides in character and the tourists taking the tour take part in the role play to maximize the experience as you step back in time.

The first tour we took was called, Passage To Fortune . When the CPR was stretching steel to the Pacific, dollar-a-day Chinese labourers were welcome. In the late 1800's, when construction of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) ended, a few determined Chinese moved to Moose Jaw hoping to find job opportunities. Ottawa imposed a head tax which rose to $500 per Chinese immigrant by 1903. Unable to pay the head tax, the Chinese went underground, using the tunnels under buildings in downtown Moose Jaw and they did work for the above ground cafes and laundries. They raised children in the rat-infested darkness. During the tour, you assume the role of the Chinese immigrant to Canada.

The second tour we took was called, The Chicago Connection . This tour reveals how Moose Jaw earned the nickname, "Little Chicago". In the 1920's, American gangsters would ride the "Soo Line" - the CPR - north to Moose Jaw to beat the "heat" of Prohibition. Saskatchewan ended Prohibition in 1924, nine years before the Americans did. Al Capone's boys found the tunnels the perfect base to supply illegal liquor to the United States via the Soo Line. On this tour, big Al’s people are in Moose Jaw to buy some illegal booze ­- from you, the bootlegger.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the inside of the tunnels as picture taking was forbidden.

This is another old car atop a building depicting one of the many murals of Moose Jaw that adorne the exterior of the buildings in the downtown core.

This is the outside of the Yvette Moore Gallery. Yvette Moore is a Saskatchewan artist born in Radville, Saskatchewan. Yvette's art captures the stories of the Prairies and she is a favorite artist of both my mother and I. What a treat to see all of Yvette's art in one place.
Of course no trip would be complete without visiting the local quilt shops. The first stop was The Quilt Patch, which was featured in the Quilt Sampler magazine in 2006.
I was given permission to take a couple of shots of the inside of the shop. This place was packed with inspiration!
I couldn't resist this cute quilt: Eat Cake!
A couple of blocks away was Quilters Haven, another jam packed quilt shop.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky duck! Art, quilt shops, all on the same day trip.

    I love that cupcake wallhanging.