Wednesday, 31 October 2007


Within the next few months, citizens and visitors in Saskatoon will note construction starting on Fort Gathercole.

While that title is strange to some, I trust it will catch on, for two reasons.

First, the construction is on the Gathercole Site. That was the site of Saskatoon's old Technical School, thought the building later became the office for the Saskatoon School Board. The building was re-named in honour of the long-time Director of Education, the late Dr. Fred Gathercole. The structure was torn down a couple of years ago because the city had no understanding of how to re-adapt the structure, and had no interest in learning. Since then, the City has taken to calling that chunk of property simply "Parcel Y." (It's also know is "Parcel Why?" by some of those who wonder why the city is allowing such strange and inappropriate development of the land.)

The second part of the name comes from the structure of the proposed development itself, by an outfit with the title "Lake Placid." It is actually shaped very much like an old prairie fort — one that could have been built by the Hudson's Bay Company or the North West Company. But instead of logs palisades, Fort Gathercole has three enormous steel, concrete and glass boxes for walls: the hotel box/wall, the condominium box/wall, and the retail-professional box/wall. If you muster up the courage and dare go inside the walls, you'll find a open courtyard. It has a paddling pool in the summer and a skating rink by the winter. There's nothing that would draw people to the site except the walls and the quaint courtyard, but the City still thinks of this as a kind of destination attraction (which shows how "small" some people think).

Overall, it's a bit of "stunning mediocrity" — stunning because it is so mediocre for a space which is just begging for something excellent.

Take note — coming soon in the heart of Saskatoon — Fort Gathercole.

(NOTE -- October, 2009 -- the land, which is still vacant two years later, is coming to be called the "Atch hole" -- after the mayor who wanted this kind of development so badly. Kinda' catchy, in its own way, that title.