First, a brief bit of Saskatoon history. I am referring to the great Royal Bank robbery on Broadway Ave. on Friday, September 7, 1951.
The events of that day do remain a little confusing but I will try to explain them as best I can. I had just started Grade 10 and was downtown buying school textbooks. After returning home with my new supplies, I contacted a friend and the two of us went looking for something to do for the balance of the afternoon. As it was just a few days into the new school year and the usual school activities had not yet started, we were at loose ends for some sort of entertainment. At any rate, someone had told us the plum trees at the University of Saskatchewan orchard near the riverbank were loaded with ripe fruit and a lot of people had been going over there to "check them out". Since it was such a nice day we decided to head over there and see this fruit for ourselves.
We arrived there mid-afternoon to the best of my recollection and were enjoying the day as we walked through the field looking for the orchard and the plum trees when virtually all hell broke loose. First we heard the sound of people running through the brush not far from us, then there were sirens and the sound of a dog barking. Finally we saw police running near our location. We had no idea what was going on, all this was happening near the riverbank in what was usually a quiet area. The first thought was that this was an overreaction to a couple of girls who were just wanting to pick a few plums, but we quickly realized something else was happening and became quite concerned. As we tried to distance ourselves from the activity we noticed a couple of five dollar bills were on the ground and the police were rushing towards us. One of the policemen stopped and told us not to touch the money and to "get the hell" out of there right away. When we asked him what was happening, he said there had been a bank robbery on Broadway and the bad guys with guns were just up ahead. Scared stiff. we ran for safety, suddenly realizing we had been there when the armed robbers had arrived and were fortunate that they had not seen us. The people we had heard running by were the robbers. As we reached the edge of the treed area we saw a lot of police cars with lights flashing and in a scene that is impossible to describe, saw Saskatoon city police, Mounties and a police dog running in pursuit of what we later learned were two felons.
Finally from a safe distance, we saw the robbers being hauled away.
What an afternoon!