Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection Update
Almost five years ago, the late Neil Richards, a well-known Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ community historian and activist, along with staff from OUTSaskatoon, approached the WDM about a temporary exhibit on LGBTQ2+ history in Saskatchewan. For Neil, this work complimented his efforts to preserve the archival record of gender and sexual diversity in Saskatchewan’s history, which resulted in the creation of two archival collections at the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan.
Over the years, these discussions grew into the formation of an advisory council of respected community and historical experts to help guide decision-making with the WDM. From there, it was decided to create a permanent collection of objects rather than a one-time temporary exhibit. In November 2018, the Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection was officially launched.
The WDM’s Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection provides permanent home for artifacts that tell a wide array of stories related to LGBTQ2+ history in the province. The collection, just like the broader WDM Collection, will be preserved to museum standards, and used for future research and exhibition purposes. The WDM believes that people’s lives are enriched by connecting with Saskatchewan’s diverse histories and that people gain a sense of place and belonging when their histories are shared through the Museum. The collection helps meet our Vision of A Saskatchewan Where Everyone Belongs and Histories Matter.
Did you know that the earliest artifact we have in the Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection is a scrapbook that contains articles about early 20th century gender diversity in Saskatoon, c. 1916-21? The scrapbook became part of the WDM Collection in 1956.
Prior to the official launch of the Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection, the WDM gratefully accepted a Cyprian Crown and Jewel set from one of Saskatchewan’s best-known drag performers Crystal Clear, c.1990s-2000s. This set was worn for Clear’s final walk at Coronation 15 in Regina, when she stepped down as Empress 14 of Saskatchewan. The first branch of the Imperial Court System in Saskatchewan was started in Saskatoon in 1989, but closed in 1993. Regina’s branch started in 1991 and is still active to this day. This acquisition is foundational to the collection, broadening the reach of the WDM’s artifacts to become more representative of Saskatchewan’s great diversity.
Since then, approximately 100 unique artifacts and research materials have been offered for donation to the collection. Three of these artifacts are being featured here to mark the occasion of Pride in Saskatchewan this month.
PFLAG is a national charitable organization, to help parents and their family members understand and accept their LGBTQ2+ children. The WDM accepted several artifacts related to the founding and early days of the PFLAG Chapter in Saskatoon in the 1990s. The donation consists of items used in parades and public events, the sign used at weekly meetings, public awareness campaign materials, and samples of correspondence with many organizations that PFLAG reached out to over the years in inclusivity and education initiatives. PFLAG is historically significant because its members have played an integral role in public education, providing family and individual support, and helping to create and expand safe spaces in Saskatchewan for the LGBTQ2+ community.
Perceptions printing proof and art, 1985-86.
Started by Gens Hellquist, who founded Saskatoon’s first LGBTQ2+ community organization, Perceptions was Canada’s longest running continually published LGBTQ2+ printed media (1983-2013). This printing proof for the 20th issue of Perceptions was framed and sold at a fundraising auction, then hung in the new owner’s home as art. The 20th issue was printed during the 1985-86 year. Most issues of Perceptions are available at the University of Saskatchewan Special Collections & Archives in the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity.
This poster was for the annual step down and coronation ball, for Regina’s Imperial Court of drag queens and drag kings: The Imperial and Sovereign Court of the Governing Body, The Golden Wheat Sheaf Empire (Court of Regina). Funds raised by the ball are donated to charity. Event posters from various decades provide a glimpse of LGBTQ2+ life in years gone by before the internet and social media could quickly spread information about cultural, leisure and community events. More event posters will be added to the collection from the early 1990s to the 2010s in the coming year.
Other artifacts that are being added to the collection include more event posters, information posters, human rights activism banners, personal community awards and leisure activity artifacts. We look forward to adding these artifacts to the collection over the coming year and to welcoming new donations after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. For more information about the Saskatchewan LGBTQ2+ History Collection please visit us here.
WDM-1973-S-22828. Clipping from a scrapbook kept by the Empire Theatre. C. 1920. The image is part of an advertisement from the show “Camouflage”.