The province designated a former settlement area near Maidstone as a new heritage site.
The Shiloh Baptist Church and cemetery has officially received heritage designation, marking it as Saskatchewan's 53rd provincial heritage property.
Located 30 kilometres northwest of Maidstone, the site was once used for a settlement community for African-Americans escaping segregation in Oklahoma in the U.S.
“In the early 20th century, African-American families seeking freedom from discrimination made this small farming community in Saskatchewan their home,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Gene Makowsky said in a statement. “Our government recognizes the importance of this site, and the significant impact it has had in shaping the identity and culture of our province.”
The heritage designation will help protect and preserve the site for future generations.
Completed in 1912, the church was used as a place of worship and a communal space for the settlers. The Shiloh Baptist Church is also the "only known building” left from the first and only African American farming community established in the province, according to the release. The building is also an example of early 20th Century log-building construction in Saskatchewan. The church's construction materials came from poplar trees cut from the banks of the nearby North Saskatchewan River.
The cemetery at the site contains at least 37 graves of original settlers and their descendents. Graves are marked by large stones at the head and foot of each grave. The province said the cemetery is also the only known place in Saskatchewan reflecting African-American burial customs from the late 19th Century.
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