SASKATOON -- A pre-pandemic 2020 for local musician Terry Hocknes looked much the same, playing shows across Saskatchewan and teaching young pupils music.

COVID-19 put a stop to those plans and with free time to fill, Hocknes is learning COVID-19 isn’t the first virus to force school closures and claim lives in Saskatoon.

“We had the Spanish flu in 1918 where millions of people died, so history does repeat itself and you start to see that more and more,” Hocknes said.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, Hocknes has devoted time to read through old editions of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix spanning the 20th Century, in an effort to collect and achieve Saskatoon’s history.

“I embarked on this project to look at the history of Saskatoon and learn all the stories that have been forgotten,” Hocknes said, adding he’s also working on the history of Saskatoon’s music scene.

Hocknes has read through 600,000 newspapers, compiling 49,000 articles he felt should be remembered now and by future generations.

Those stories include Saskatoon residents just getting the first numbers volunteering for the Second World War; an old high school near the riverbank training soldiers how to operate machine guns; and Saskatoon getting hooked up to natural gas energy.

“That was a big deal and it came at a big cost,” he said.

Everything Hocknes clips, he scans, saves and post to his Facebook page Saskatoon History Photos StarPhoenix Memories Vintage Discussions.

“Every day I learn 100 new things I’ve never heard of before and hopefully everyone else does too,” he said.

He said his page has 2,700 followers, many of which no longer reside in Saskatchewan but grew up in the prairies.

Hocknes said once he’s captured the stories of Saskatoon from 1902 to 1999 his goal is to publish a series of books to preserve these stories for generations to come.

If given the choice, would Hocknes go back in time?

“As much as we might like living in the past, I don’t think we could get along with people because our morals and vibe has changed so much I don’t think I could have a conversation with a relative 100 years ago, they wouldn’t know what to make of me.”