Saskatchewan Masonry Institute - A Heritage Awards Sponsor Profile

Mar 14, 2024

David Siebert, Researcher

Saskatchewan Masonry Institute - A Heritage Awards Sponsor Profile

By David Siebert, Researcher

Today, we are profiling a key sponsor for the 2023 Heritage Awards program, the Saskatchewan Masonry Institute (SMI). SMI is a voice for the masonry sector in Saskatchewan, and its members cover the breadth of the sector, from the masons working on buildings around the province to suppliers and producers who quarry and fabricate blocks.

We spoke with Ryan Leech, current president of the Board of Directions of SMI, but you may know him better as the president of BRXTON. Among many other things, we talked about the current state of masonry in the province and SMI's roll in promoting the trade. SMI and the College of Engineering at University of Saskatchewan partnered to create the Saskatchewan Centre for Masonry Design, a place to support research and education for future engineers. SMI also advises on code re-evaluation and works with the Canadian Masonry Design Centre, who provide assistance and resources to those learning about and working with masonry. SMI is also involved in apprenticeships in Saskatchewan, providing expertise in education and curriculum review.

All of this is important work and it is work directly related to Heritage Saskatchewan's mission. Masonry knowledge and expertise, in their diverse forms, are intangible cultural heritage and necessary for the continued use and enjoyment of the many brick and stone buildings across the province. "If you don't build buildings with masonry, you'll lose the masons," says Ryan Leech, and if you need someone to repair a masonry building, you need masons. SMI works hard, and collaborates with industry and government, to keep the trade viable and alive in the province - sounds like ICH work to us!

Over the years, Leech has won or been a part of several projects that won awards at the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Heritage Awards, including College Campus renewal and the former Sherwood Department Store (now part of Viterra's head office in Regina). Leech wondered "who pays for the cake and coffee here [the Awards ceremony]? And can I do that?" Celebrating the hard work people are putting into the heritage community is important to Leech personally, and he sees these old places as rallying points and hubs for community. "People are invested in [their heritage] and they're willing to work with their dollars, and work with their hands, and willing to reach out to others to organize partnerships," Leech says. And all this works to keep a sense of place and history in communities. "It's pretty awesome to see, and surprising sometimes to see the extent people will put their foot forward and their will to preserve their communities."

Leech believes safeguarding heritage is important for communities, and that new buildings need to be made with future heritage in mind. "If we're going to build something, we need to build it for our great-grandkids, not for some return on investment," says Leech. Heritage is about the future, and SMI is working to ensure that masons, and the buildings they work on, also have a future.

We thank the Saskatchewan Masonry Institute for their support of our Heritage Awards. Follow this link to see the winners from this year!

To reach out to us about sponsoring and applying to the Heritage Awards in the future, please email us at