Skip to main content

Caragana Plant Stand

Curated Submission
Beechy, Saskatchewan
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
74 x 30
Materials & techniques
Caragana wood; Sawn, nailed
Made by Ruddick Welwood
Saskatchewan Western Development Museum WDM-2011-S-40
Times were tough in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Drought, crop failure, and grasshopper plagues along with unemployment and low grain prices combined to bring the province to its knees. Devastating dust storms swept across the province. In 1937 Ruddick Welwood, a young Saskatchewan teacher, recounted one such storm: “Dust had so filled the air that it was darkening the sun. Large tumbling mustards and Russian thistles were coming into the yard in a furious manner. It was a scary situation.”
Into this climate of dust came the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), a federal government agency created to combat drought and soil degradation. Farmers had been encouraged to surround their land with hardy wind-breaking plants as early as 1901. The newly formed PFRA stepped up these shelterbelt plantings in the late 1930s to help control wind erosion. One of the most popular plantings was the lowly caragana – a tough, drought-resistant, and long-lived shrub native to the Siberian steppes. Planted in long rows in prairie fields, caragana shelterbelts helped anchor the soil, protecting it from the incessant wind.
Ruddick Welwood crafted this plant stand for his mother, Louisa, during the 1930s while living and teaching in the Beechy, Saskatchewan, area. With little money, Welwood, like many others, made do with materials at hand. With a few well-chosen caragana branches, he set to work. Although Welwood made several plant stands, only this one survived. Louisa used it for years before passing it on to her daughter Valerie. While the stand was a family treasure, it is also a testament to survival and making do during a particularly difficult chapter of the Saskatchewan story.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners