The Yorkton Armouries
Early in the twentieth century, Yorkton men who had served in the Boer Wars
of the 1880s and 1890s began planning for the establishment of a local militia.
They approached Dr. E. L. Cash, Federal Member of Parliament for the
constituency in hopes that he could influence the Dominion Government to erect
military headquarters in Yorkton. With his influence, and the added
encouragement of both the Board of Trade and the Town Council, authorization to
organize was granted. One veteran of the last of the Boer Wars, Major Francis
Pawlett was appointed Officer in Command of the 16th Canadian Light Horse, "B"
Squadron, and recruiting began.
It was decided to renovate the former Immigration Hall located across the
railroad tracks, on Front Street South, between Tupper and Second Avenue. It
housed 75 men and was equipped as a training center. The drills consisted of
both foot and mounted exercises.
As it happened, not long after they were organized, the First World War was
declared. Sixty men of the "B" Squadron headed for more training at one of
Canada's largest camps at Valcartier, Québec. The local Armoury kept on being
used as a recruiting center and for basic training.
In 1920, when Yorkton's Court House was constructed on Darlington Street, the
courthouse on Livingstone became the second site for the Armoury. By 1922, it
was outfitted for all units of Yorkton's militia, with officers' rooms, other
ranks' rooms, drill hall, recreation center, gymnasium, and a rifle range in the
Beginning around 1929, local politicians began lobbying for a new building
for the 64 (Yorkton) Field Battery, the First Yorkton Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun
Battery, and the 16th Canadian Light Horse, which had been amalgamated with the
Saskatchewan Mounted Rifles. The old building was inadequate, and so was the
Highways warehouse that was being used for extra maneuvers. With the help of the
Federal Member of Parliament, George W. McPhee, they began plans for a new
It took several more years before the project could be completed. The
original designs called for the main entrance to be facing south on Smith
Street. By October 1938, the final plans were out. The architect was David
Webster and the builder, Shoquist Construction Company, both from Saskatoon. The
two-story building, with the façade on First Avenue North was constructed of
brick and Tyndal stone. Subcontracts went to local businesses: Plumber, E. H.
Carter, Beck's Electric, and MacKay's Paint Shop. The total cost amounted to
$32,000.00. The official opening took place in October of 1939, one month after
World War II was declared. Because of new security concerns, a ball planned for
the occasion was cancelled. Only one person at a time, accompanied by a soldier
could visit the premises.
Large-scale recruitment began. The main training took place at Regina and
other camps. It did not take long for the soldiers to be sent to England for
The Armoury today houses the Reserve Unit of the 64th Battery of the 10th
Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. The building is utilized for the
general operation of the unit, with offices, a drill hall where simulated
artillery training takes place, and a couple classrooms. It is the home of the
Army Cadets and Sea Cadets, as well. There is a lounge, with a fireplace for
social events. No military weaponry is on exhibit, save for General Alexander
Ross'sword. Two full time staff is in charge of the administration and training,
Warrant Officer Robert Tholberg, and Sergeant Todd Appel.
1 - Philip D. Redant, YORKTON'S MILITARY HISTORY. Unpublished
manuscript. No date.
2 - City of Yorkton Heritage Property file on #56 First
Avenue North, Armoury building.
3 - Interview with Warrant Officer, Robert Tholberg.
4 - City of Yorkton Heritage Research files re: Military History.
City of Yorkton Archives photographs -- Del Sveinsson Collection
6 - Interview with Korean War Veteran, W. Austman.