Assiniboia and District Historical Museum
Assiniboia, Saskatchewan

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Towns-past and present of South Central Saskatchewan

 

 

This exhibit will include all towns within 80 km (50m) of Assiniboia.

The birth of Small Towns was conceived by the needs of goods and services by the homesteaders and early settlers to the local region.

Firstly the need for a closer more convenient post office point which was then the only communication available. Rather than traveling infrequently to Moose Jaw to pick the mail it began to be delivered to outlaying points, which could be in a private home. Then with this point accessible to the locals, delivery of tobacco, sugar, flour and coffee was made and a 'store' was born.

Homesteaders brought their own tools, knowledge, clothing, a few kitchen supplies (pots and pans), bedding, etc. As the population increased the need of supplies grew. For instance - lumber was needed for building home, furniture, barns, storage areas, etc.

Lumber was delivered from Moose Jaw to Mortlack - a shorter trip for men and horses. With the rail line coming into region about 1912, lumber was then shipped by rail to stopping-off points establishing lumberyards. A railway station and agent was now a necessity.

Grain Elevator Companies mushroomed along the rail lines, these points generally spaced about six miles apart, (distance that horses could travel hauling grain wagons and return home within the day) and often the post office point and the small supply store moved near elevators. The mail was dropped off as well as the consumable goods. The elevator agent needed an abode as well, causing the collection of buildings of close proximity.

A building was moved to house a post office and 'store'. The postmaster cum storekeeper had to have a residence when the goods increased which forced him to seek another building. Slowly a hamlet, village and town developed.

This center where people gathered for supplies, other entrepreneurial spirits found an opportunity to offer many other types of services: hotel for visitors, eating establishment, photographer, doctor, drug store, bank, livery stables, etc.

Everything flourished until better roads and motorized vehicles were developed then people began to travel to larger centers for supplies and services. The competition overwhelmed some business. In later years the closing of schools and grain elevators also spelt the death of small centers.

 

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