and the Folklore of Bull's River
Throughout the history of Yorkton, the name of this street is likely the only
one to have generated some controversy. In the mid 1980s , a few citizens
officially requested that the name "Bull Crescent" be changed. City Council
however, denied the request.
The surname "Bull" features prominently in the archival records of Yorkton.
Bull Crescent, surveyed in 1982, was named to honour Francis William Bull and
his wife, Josephine who homesteaded NW 1/4 Section 6, Township 26, Range 3 West
of the 2nd Meridian. A prominent part of a river, just east of the city,
officially known today as Yorkton Creek runs through this land. For decades
since the early days it was known to locals as Bullís River, although one early
map shows it as the south branch of the White Sand River, and other maps
designate it as the Little White Sand.
Pioneer Francis Bull came to York Colony from Toronto, Ontario in the spring
of 1883. He traveled by train to Whitewood, where he teamed up with Ephraim
Boake and Wes Jackson for the journey northward to the new colony. With six
wagons, they rode over rough trails to the Qu'Appelle River crossing. There they
were obliged to camp under the stars for two weeks before a ferry took them
across. When they arrived at York Colony, they stayed at the house of William
and Edward Hopkins. A few months later, Mr. Bullís wife Josephine arrived in a
covered wagon hitched to oxen. The Bulls first lived in a tent, then wintered in
a shanty. In the spring of 1884, they built a shack on the homestead. Not very
successful with their first crop, they took up ranching as well. Some years
later the Bulls moved into town, making their home at 105 Livingstone Street.
Mrs. Bull became a member of the benevolent group called the Travelersí Aid
Society. Mr. Bull was active in community affairs and served as town councilor
in 1912 and 1913. In 1930, Mr. Bull shared with a reporter of THE YORKTON
ENTERPRISE the following opinion of Yorkton and farming in general: " I have
seen Yorkton grow from a spot in the bare prairie to a hamlet, a village, a
town, and a city. I look for Yorkton to become a great trading and distributing
centre with some manufacturing. But the day for wheat farming is through. I
never did believe in putting your eggs all in one basket. If your wheat crop
fails or the price is low, you have nothing to fall back on. I am a strong
believer in mixed farming. Then too, the farmer must learn to be more economical
than he is if he wants to prosper."
Mr. and Mrs. Bull had three sons, Charles, Milford, and Frank. Mrs. Bull died
in 1934, her husband in 1937.
As for Bullís River, the local folklore abounds. Henri Blommaert whose father
Ernest had acquired land on the banks of the river tells of seeing Native people
canoeing passed their home. This was in the 1920s, when the water level could
take a canoe. Fish was also plentiful, and he and his brothers would set up nets
made of chicken wire, which would soon be overflowing with suckers, and some
pike. It was at "Bullís Swimming Hole" —a wider part of the river where Henri
learned to swim. For many decades, Bullís River was a place of rendezvous, and
all sorts of social events. Every spring in the late 1940s, as a teenager Sheila
Harris and her friends would not ever miss the "Polar Swim" when some dauntless
local heroes would brave the freezing waters. Dianne Holfeld describes Bullís
River as "the place to go" for the teenagers of her time, likening it to the
excursions to the Mall for todayís young people. " You could hike or bike there,
meet your friends, go swimming, or have a wiener roast."
It is hoped that the colourful history and folklore associated with this
pioneer name dispels any negative connotations it may have had.