The Western Development Museum (WDM), in partnership with Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, is hosting a three-part presentation throughout February and March. 

Seniors’ Centre Without Walls is a Saskatchewan-wide organization that aims to connect people through conference-style phone calls. Their target audience is ages 55 and older. 

“The neat thing with their program is you just join from your own home, on a phone,” explains WDM Programs and Volunteer Coordinator, Karla Rasmussen. “So, it’s kind of like a conference call, or maybe I’m dating myself here but, if anyone remembers what a party line is, it kind of works that way.” 

This presentation is ‘Violet’s Saskatchewan,’ which covers the story of Violet McNaughton, and the work she did to advance gender equality for settler women in Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. 

“Violet McNaughton was an easy choice for us because the month of March also has International Womens Day, and it kind of fits in well with the timing of this because the program will be happening at the end of February. The 27th of February, March 13th, and March 27th,” says Rasmussen. 

The program will be in three different parts, talking about Violet’s story and that of some other Saskatchewan women, from the perspective of rural settler women in the early 1900s. It takes place from 10 am to 11 am, each scheduled Monday.

The first part of the presentation outlines Violet's early life and her coming to Saskatchewan. 

“There’s a few different photos that show Violet's early life, there’s some portraits, some things of that nature. And then we talk a little bit about her actual coming to Saskatchewan, and how difficult that was for women at that time. She was married, so she and her husband built what’s called a ‘soddy house.’ A house made out of literal pieces of sod from the ground.” 

Sod houses leaked, and were often too cold for comfort in the wintertime and too hot in the summertime. 

“It was what they had available for materials at that time to build, so that would have been a challenge faced by many Saskatchewan women, [and] people coming in from all over the place who are not indigenous to the area,” adds Rasmussen. 

The second part of the presentation follows some of the advancements that Violet assisted behind the scenes. 

“A lot of settler women were often pregnant a lot of the time and had to do their farmwork and their share of the chores while looking after young children, being pregnant themselves. And we talk a little bit about what that looked like around the turn of the century and just after that, as well.” 

Violet was also involved with the Grain Growers’ Association, which was a way that she could lend her voice and help with many different projects and committees, including advocating for women’s right to vote. 

The final presentation covers Violet’s involvement with the Western Producer, and how she helped give women a voice. 

“[We’ll] talk about her work with the Western Producer, which was a publication that still exists today, that she wrote for, for a number of years. She had several different articles published, advice columns where she could actually answer questions from prairie women.” 

Rasmussen says Violet’s column helped women who dealt with isolation in the country. 

“Even today’s Saskatchewan is not a very populated province. It was even less so back in the early 1900s, so these settler women were out in the country, they were isolated, they might have felt alone many times, so being able to write into this column and receive an answerback, and connect with other prairie women with similar situations, really lent a bit of comradery and it helped to decrease that isolation a little bit too.” 

Overall, this program will be looking at some of the different aspects of Violet's life and the things that she did to help advance life for other settler women. 

Pre-registration is required and can be completed by phoning (306) 631-4357 or by emailing The presentation is free for anyone ages 55 and older. 

“We do send out some photo supports through Seniors’ Centre. We can email folks that have internet, but you don’t necessarily need a computer. We'll print off photos that go along with this, and they’ll be mailed out to the people that are participating.” 

In addition to the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls program, there will be a shorter version of ‘Violet’s Saskatchewan’ that’s going to be presented through the WDM’s Virtual Coffee Club. 

“It’s also online, but it is through the Zoom format,” Rasmussen explains. “It will be on March 21st, at 10 am. It'll be a slightly shorter version of the same program and there will be slides that go along with it. So, if you’re not able to take part in the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls program over those 3 different Mondays, and then you can join for free on the Virtual Coffee Club.” 

Register for the Virtual Coffee Club here