The Growth of the Saskatchewan Economy

  • 1774 to 1821 - fur trading - Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company competed for the fur trade
  • 1882 - With the building of the railroad, homesteaders came and began farming. Small towns sprang up along the railroad tracks.
  • 1880 to 1930 - growth of farming in Saskatchewan , mainly wheat .
  • 1930s - The depression and drought of the 1930s slowed down the farming almost to a standstill.
  • 1939-1945 After the drought, the grain growing improved.
  • 1950s - besides growth in farming, there was the discovery of oil, natural gas, uranium, and potash.
  • 1960s - There were many mines and different types of farms in the province.


AGRICULTURE - growing crops and raising animals

Saskatchewan is known as "Canada's Breadbasket". About 45 percent of the total area of Saskatchewan is farmland.

  • Most of the farmland is used for growing crops.
  • Wheat is the most important field crop.
  • Barley is also an important grain that is grown.
  • Some other crops are canola, oats, rye, flax, mustard and lentils.
  • The grain is sold to many other countries (the United States, Mexico, South Korea, Iran, Japan and China).
  • Beef cattle, dairy cattle, poultry, hogs and exotic animals are raised on some farms.
more about Farming in Saskatchewan

MINERAL RESOURCES - mining, oil and gas

Mining is Saskatchewan's third largest industry after oil and gas and agriculture. The province is in part of the Canadian Shield, an area where many minerals and metals are found. Uranium is produced in northern Saskatchewan. Potash, coal, oil and natural gas and other minerals are produced in southern Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan produces a third of the world's supply of potash and uranium. Uranium is used to fuel nuclear power plants.
  • Saskatchewan is the second largest oil producing province and the third largest natural gas producing province in Canada. Homes are kept warm with natural gas furnaces.
  • Coal in mined in the southern part of the province. About 70 percent of Saskatchewan's electricity comes from coal-fired power stations.
  • There are small gold mines north of La Ronge. Gold is used to make very thin wire.
  • Other minerals found in Saskatchewan include salt and sodium sulphate. Sodium sulphate is used in detergent (dishwashing and laundry powder). Salt is used to season food, to soften water and to melt ice on sidewalks and streets.
  • Diamonds were first discovered north of Prince Albert in 1988. Exploration is still continuing.
more about mining in Saskatchewan


  • FISHERIES - Fishermen catch and sell fish ( whitefish, pickerel, pike, and trout) from Saskatchewan lakes and rivers.
  • FURS - Beavers, minks, muskrats, coyotes, foxes, martens and fishers are trapped for their fur coats.
  • FORESTRY - Most of the lumber harvested in Saskatchewan is softwood ( spruce and jack pine). Wood is processed at Hudson Bay, Glaslyn, Meadow Lake, Big River and Carrot River.
more about forestry in Saskatchewan


Industry has developed slowly in Saskatchewan. Food processing plants include meatpacking, oilseed products, flour milling, the production of beer, soft drinks and animal feed. Other major products include agricultural implements, agricultural chemicals, ready-mix concrete and machine shop products.

more about food processing & manufacturing


The government-owned Saskatchewan Power Corporation generates the electricity used in the province. About 70 percent of the province's electricity is produced by three coal-fired plants in southeastern Saskatchewan (Boundary Dam just south of Estevan, Poplar River power station near Coronach, Shand Power station near Estevan) , 25 percent by hydroelectric power plants in central and northeastern Saskatchewan, and 5 percent by natural gas plants in west central Saskatchewan. In June/06 the Centennial Wind Power Facility was officially opened. near Swift Current (in southwestern Saskatchewan).

more about wind power


There are 49 dams in Saskatchewan. The main dams are Gardiner Dam, Qu'Appelle Dam, Rafferty Dam and Alameda Dam.

The South Saskatchewan River Project was completed in the late 1960s. With more water supply through irrigation, more land was available for growing crops. Two large dams, Gardiner Dam on the South Saskatchewan River and the Qu'Appelle River Dam and their reservoir, Diefenbaker Lake were built . The reservoir and dams also provide flood control for the lower Saskatchewan River and bring electric power and water supply for the towns and industries of that area.

The Rafferty-Alameda Project was completed in the early 1990s. The two dams and reservoirs were built to provide water for the area, including the Shand power station near Estevan and as flood protection for communities downstream in Saskatchewan and North Dakota. The Rafferty Dam was built on the Souris River. The Alameda Dam is on Mountain Creek, a tributary of the Souris.

INDEX of Saskatchewan web pages

Web Pages for Students

Saskatchewan Social Studies curriculum

updated February 2017