China Through Saskatchewan Eyes: Evelyn Potter’s 1971 Journey

Exhibit on display from March 25 to June 21, 2019

China Through Saskatchewan Eyes: Evelyn Potter and the 1971 Delegation

China Through Saskatchewan Eyes: Evelyn Potter’s 1971 Journey features a sampling of more than 1,150 photographs taken by Evelyn Potter in 1971, when she travelled to China as a member of a historically significant delegation. Co-curated by Evelyn Potter, Dr. Liang Zhao (PhD), a professor from Sichuan University (China), and Dr. Keith Thor Carlson (PhD), a University of Saskatchewan history professor, the exhibit’s evocative pictures of city, farm, school, family and factory life provide an intimate view of Chinese society at the mid-way point of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

In 1971, following the opening of formal diplomatic relations, the first Canadian delegation (led by University of British Columbia faculty) travelled to China to promote cultural exchange and understanding. However, a mere month before, the trip had almost been cancelled when the Chinese government discovered that there were no farmers in the group. The Chinese demanded that a “peasant” representative be included, and the delegation’s organizers turned to Evelyn Potter, the first women’s president of the recently created National Farmers’ Union (NFU). Potter agreed to join the delegation, and her participation was significant in motivating a series of subsequent Canada/China farmer-peasant exchanges organized through the NFU and the Canadian co-operative movement.

This exhibit offers glimpses into Potter's experiences and perspectives, as revealed in the images captured through her camera lens. Further, these pictures serve to remind us of the on-going importance of Canada’s farm communities and agricultural sector in opening and shaping modern relations with the People’s Republic of China.

While the photos in the exhibit are of China, in many ways the story is about Potter, a Saskatchewan farmer who had only been partially aware of the significant role she was playing in building awareness and understanding between the politically divided East and West.

China Through Saskatchewan Eyes: Evelyn Potter’s 1971 Journey was funded by:

  • Keith Thor Carlson, Research Chair in Indigenous and Community Engaged History, University of Saskatchewan
  • The College of Arts & Science, University of Saskatchewan
  • The Confucius Institute at the University of Saskatchewan
  • “From the Ground Up”: Buddhism and East Asian Religions (FROGBEAR), Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia


University of Saskatchewan, Department of History in the College of Arts and Science The Confucius Institute at the University of Saskatchewan FROGBEAR, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

Fostering a Vision for Canada: The Diefenbaker Legacy

Fostering a Vision for Canada presents the life of the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker from his childhood through to the end of his tenure as the thirteenth Prime Minister of Canada. This exhibit illuminates the character and legacy of Mr. Diefenbaker, explains his achievements and challenges while in office from 1957-1963 and highlights his close connections with the University of Saskatchewan. It charts his dedication to human rights and equality throughout his career as a lawyer and his struggle to be elected into public office. Further, the exhibit features a number of notable artifacts, including personal belongings, campaign memorabilia, and gifts received throughout his political career.

The gallery also features two replica rooms that capture Canadian political life as it was during the latter 1950s and early 1960s. The Prime Minister’s Office depicts the East Block Office as it appeared during Diefenbaker’s tenure as Prime Minister. It features original and reproduction furniture, as well as personal items belonging to Diefenbaker. The Privy Council Chamber illustrates the cabinet meeting room, featuring replications of Confederation era furniture and original signed photographs of the first twelve Canadian Prime Ministers. The replica rooms were recently retrofitted with iPads, containing speech excerpts, room descriptions and a broad selection of historical photographs adding an interactive component for visitors.

This is an ongoing exhibit.

It is also possible to view the virtual exhibit here.