This reunion is composed of stories, photographs and memorabilia from patients, healthcare workers, students, artists, instructors and musicians who spent time at Fort San both in its construction as a tuberculosis sanatorium and in its reconfiguration as the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts.
The Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium was Saskatchewan’s first healthcare centre built to combat the contagious disease Tuberculosis.
During the last few decades of the twentieth century, Fort San reinvented itself as a venue for great artistic education and production.
Because of its significance as a an important heritage site in Canada, Fort San—Saskatchewan’s last standing tuberculosis sanatorium—remains open for future generations to visit.
During the first half of the 20th century, the people of Canada lived in fear that tuberculosis or consumption as it was commonly know, would become a devastating epidemic. Nestled in the hills of the Qu’Appelle Valley on 230 sprawling acres of land, the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium was built to care for growing number of Saskatchewan residents that contracted the disease. Officially opened in 1917, Fort San was designed to be self sufficient, with its own power house, stables, piggery, poultry ranch, and a five acre garden. At its peak, Fort San could accommodate 358 patients and a vibrant community emerged through activities such as the drama club, the jazz band, and the internal radio program. Through the commendable efforts of the Anti-Tuberculosis League, the number of tuberculosis cases declined steadily and the need for the Sanatorium facilities diminished by the 1960s.
In 1967, the Saskatchewan Arts Board was granted the use of part of the facilities at the San for the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, and, by 1972, the health care facility was completely closed. Housing thousands of students in the summer months, the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts offered classes in band, orchestral and choral music, highland piping, drumming, dancing, pottery, art, creative writing, ethnic dancing, ballet, drama, and stagecraft. For the three decades that the arts school remained at Fort San, many famous artists emerged and countless friendships were forged.
The legacy of Fort San continues today in its new configuration as the Echo Valley Conference Centre. Every summer it still resonates with the echo of children’s laughter as it becomes the training grounds for hundreds of navy cadets. Fort San has seen many changes in its 85 year history; as a heritage site, it reverberates with diverse and significant stories that chronicle Saskatchewan’s varied past and exciting future.
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