Saskatoon Neighbourhood – Riversdale
Riversdale is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Saskatoon located near the downtown area. It includes the business district of 20th Street. It consists mostly of low-density, single detached dwellings. As of 2011, the area was home to 2,135 residents. Riversdale has experienced an economic and development boom since 2012 and has even been called Canada’s Next Great Neighbourhood. However, the neighbourhood is still considered a lower-income area, with (based on the 2006 Canadian Census) an estimated average family income of $35,849, an estimated average dwelling value of $120,835 and an estimated home ownership rate of 36.0%. According to MLS data, the average sale price of a home as of 2013 was $224,807. Incorporated as a town in 1905, Riversdale was one of the three original settlements that merged to form the city of Saskatoon in 1906.
Location – Riversdale is located within the Core Neighbourhoods Suburban Development Area. It is bounded by 22nd Street to the north and Idylwyld Drive to the east. The southern boundary starts at the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge, follows the South Saskatchewan River to 16th Street. Avenue K serves as the neighbourhood’s western boundary. Roads are laid out in a grid fashion; streets run east-west, avenues run north-south.
History – The first record of settlement in the Riversdale area was in the 1890s, when the area was homesteaded. It was dubbed “Richville” after one of the original settlers. In April 1903, over 1500 Barr Colonists arrived and made camp just west of the railway tracks beside Saskatoon. While most of the colonists moved on to the Lloydminster area, some remained behind as permanent residents of a new settlement. The village of Riversdale was incorporated on January 16, 1905. The village plan (originally called “Riverdale”) had narrower streets, smaller lots, and no public reserve land. Faced with a heavy influx of settlers, Riversdale joined with the towns of Saskatoon and Nutana to become the City of Saskatoon on July 1, 1906.
Immigration from central and eastern Europe brought new and ethnically diverse peoples to Riversdale around 1908. Many British, German, Ukrainian and Chinese families took up residence. Separated from the downtown by the Canadian Northern Railway yards, vehicular access to Riversdale was limited to underpasses at 19th and 23rd Streets. In 1910, a pedestrian walkway was built over the train tracks at 20th Street so the public could safely cross the tracks on foot. Saskatoon’s Chinatown moved into the Riversdale district in the early 1930s. Originally, Chinese immigrants set up businesses along 19th Street east of the CN tracks, in what is now the south downtown. However, they moved when the city acquired the land to build the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate (later the Gathercole Building, now demolished).
The mid-1960s marked a change in the traffic patterns of the area, as the CN tracks were relocated out of downtown. 20th and 22nd Streets were connected to the downtown, and Idylwyld Drive became Riversdale’s eastern boundary. The 23rd Street underpass was levelled quickly, while the 19th Street overpass remained until 2006. The mid-60s also saw First Nations people moving off of reserves and into Riversdale – the most recent statistics show that 43% of the population identifies as being of First Nations origin. Vietnamese and Hong Kong Chinese immigrants also began arriving at this time.
Riversdale’s image struggled since the 1960s, with a sizeable portion of the population living below the poverty line. The social ills that accompany poverty – substance abuse, violent crime and dilapidated housing – often cast the area in a negative light. However, by 2009 there was evidence of gentrification occurring in the area, including the River Landing development and the demolition of the historic but run-down Barry Hotel being cited as examples of the neighbourhood’s changing character. By 2014, new businesses occupied nearly all of the available rental space.
Education – Princess Alexandra School – public elementary school, part of the Saskatoon Public School Division. The school first opened in 1906. Construction began in 1906/07 of ‘Riversdale School which was renamed Alexandra School; a four-room school house was erected, and doubled in size by 1908. In 1922 there were both Princess and Alexandra schools in operation on the same land allotment. Princess School was sold and torn down in 1961. In 1962 a new school building was erected on the same property site, and re-opened.
Parks and Recreation – Victoria Park (7.0 acres) – named for Queen Victoria, this public park houses many facilities. However, only a small portion of the park lies within Riversdale; the majority of the park is in the King George neighbourhood to the south. Optimist Park (7.1 acres). Isinger Park (2.5-acre (1.0 ha)) – built as part of Phase II of the River Landing development, opened in August 2009.
Community – The Riversdale Community Association coordinates educational, recreational, and social programs for residents, maintains the outdoor rink at Princess Alexandra Community School, stages fundraising events, and works to address issues of local concern.
Commercial – Riversdale’s main commercial corridor is 20th Street, which was the main street in its early days as a village. Today, 20th Street is home to mainly independently-owned local businesses. Other businesses are located on 22nd Street, the major arterial road that makes up the northern boundary of Riversdale. Commercial and light industrial businesses occupy some of the blocks between 19th and 22nd Streets, concentrated on the eastern side closer to Idylwyld Drive. The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, founded in 1975, moved into its present location at 19th Street and Avenue B in 2007.
#AskSlade about properties currently for sale in this neighbourhood. Slade Real Estate Inc. 306-222-9992.
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