In my opinion, the greatest single piece of Saskatoon property is the beautiful structure at 950 Spadina Crescent East; the Saskatoon Civic Conservatory. It’s the division between downtown and the character homes of City Park, the greatest riverbank trails spider-web in all directions behind it and across the street stands Kinsmen Park’s towering Ferris wheel. For decades this was the site of the Mendel Art Gallery- that shared its space with a coffee shop….and the Saskatoon Civic Conservatory.

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory

When you’ve lived on the prairies your whole life, the magic of this little floral room is obvious: seeing a seven-foot cactus and three feet of snow separated only by a pane of glass is our own little victory over nature. We live in Saskatchewan- we’re supposed to be denied such exotic plants like Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata, but staring at one on a frigid February day is a reminder that Winter lost and we won.

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory.
Saskatoon Civic Conservatory

Over the last few years the Mendel Art Gallery began an intense relocation process as construction of a new facility began and this current location closed its doors…but the cafe and Conservatory remained open. If you remember how it was, walking through the doors today is a bizarre experience. Imagine a movie theatre closing…but the concession and the arcade corner remaining open.
There’s signage everywhere to remind you that the Children’s Discovery Museum has claimed this high-demand piece of property, but peeking into the darkness through the locked gallery doors reveals very little progress.

This is probably where you think I’m going to wrap this up by pontificating how the Mendel should have remained here and moving it has gutted parts of my childhood, but here’s the swerve: though no fault of its own, I’ve loved this building more than it’s loved me back.

(Flashback Sound Effect)

My childhood was spent championing my lofty dreams of becoming a professional artist and when the Mendel announced it would accept one piece of artwork from our class to be displayed in an upcoming local youth exhibit I poured every ounce of dedication and discipline into my masterpiece- only to have it destroyed by a fluke classroom accident. I can still remember the exact part of the wall my classmate’s winning submission hung. Another time…I stumbled into a display of children’s drawings collected from a war-torn country. These were kids, younger than I was, who had witnessed large scale massacres and then used stick figures and a lot of red crayon to document of the horrors they experienced. These sketches punched a hole clean through my protective childhood bubble and still haunt me to this day.

So, yeah…this building holds a special mixed bag of emotions for this writer who is extremely excited for the future of 950 Spadina Crescent East. Change can’t be stopped, so let’s cheer on the Children’s Discovery Museum folks as they fill this empty space with climbing walls and fake northern lights for families to enjoy…I’ll be here anyway, deep in the Conservatory, checking out the sweet Cereus Peruvianus Monstrosus.

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory Contact Info:

Where: 950 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon, SK
Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm