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Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery designated as heritage property
The Shiloh Baptist Church stands today as the only known building that remains from the first and only African American farming community established in the province. (Courtesy Government of Saskatchewan.)
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 10:53AM CST
The Government of Saskatchewan has designated the Shiloh Baptist Church and Cemetery as the province’s 53rd Provincial Heritage Property.
The site, located about 30 kilometres northwest of Maidstone, was a settling community for African Americans escaping segregation in Oklahoma, according to a release from the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.
“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 the release.
“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 families built structures, such as the Shiloh Baptist Church, using logs from poplar trees cut from the banks of the nearby North Saskatchewan River. Completed in 1912, the church provided a place of worship and communal space for the settlers, the release said.
Like most churches of the time, the Shiloh Baptist Church became the focal point of community life and a social and religious centre for the close-knit community. It stands today as the only known building that remains from the first and only African American farming community established in the province, and as a representative example of early 20th century log building construction in the province, the release said.
The associated cemetery contains at least 37 graves of the original settlers and their descendants. Originally marked by large stones at the head and foot of each grave, it is the only known place in Saskatchewan that illustrates the African American burial custom of the late 19th century, the release said.