This 1914 photo is a view from the south of the proposed “contagious disease hospital” site. The original Engineering Building and University Barn can be seen in the background.
In 1911, the City of Saskatoon approached the University of Saskatchewan about building a hospital on campus.
It was felt that until hospital facilities were fully developed on campus, the university would not move to establish a College of Medicine. The Board of Governors replied favourably and negotiations began.
The first hurdle was the location. The city asked for a site on the riverbank. The university wanted that land for itself, having recently turned down a similar request by the theological colleges.
A site southwest of what is now College and Cumberland avenues were agreed upon. The eight-acre parcel was to be leased for 49 years at a cost of $5 per annum with an option for another 49 years.
On Dec. 12, 1911, a referendum asked citizens to choose a site for a new hospital and approve spending $300,000 for its construction. The money was approved and the university site won by a two-to-one margin over its alternative in City Park.
Architects were engaged, sketches submitted and an excavation contract was signed in October 1912. The original funds proved to be inadequate. Another $185,000 was asked for and approved by ratepayers, but was never spent.
The combination of a sagging economy, accelerating costs and the war stalled the project and eventually ended it. The city opted for the cheaper alternative of an addition to its City Park facility.
The excavated hole remained a visible reminder of the failed scheme until 1932, when an eight-year-old boy drowned in the flooded pit after falling from a raft he and his friends had built.
The hole was filled in and in 1936, the site became home to the original Griffiths Stadium.