One of the best things about being a radio announcer is the ability to travel all over Saskatchewan, tour our charming small towns, and meet great people along the way. This past summer was no exception thanks to wonderful events in Raymore, Moosomin, Kennedy, and all of our country cookouts in Glenavon, Craik, and Cupar.
When we go on road trips anywhere across the prairies I think we sometimes tend to write off a small town as “just another small town” en route to our destination. We need to be reminded that every small town has a story and that there’s more to a hamlet or a village than what meets the eye.
I love exploring small towns and ghost towns because it stirs the imagination. Who was the first person that started that village and staked it out? How was its name determined? What were the expectations? Who lived there? Why? What prompted them to leave? These are the questions I think about all the time. Sometimes all that is left is an old community centre or an abandoned church, which makes me wonder what kinds of gatherings were held in these places and where are those families/descendants today.
When many of these communities started up (mostly due to the railroad) it was an exciting time for everybody as settlers moved west seeking a better life. Sadly, lives weren’t always better, but those pioneers left their mark by building communities with hotels, elevators, churches, schools, and homes. They built train stations to welcome loved ones and constructed halls to celebrate the happy times and mourn the sad times. This hard work also built our province. Today when one drives down what would have been main street, a person can only imagine what times would have been like. I feel like I hear the echoes of those pioneers as I drive by an abandoned repair garage or by the old ball diamonds. I realize it’s not voices, just the prairie wind blowing through a broken window or shaking what is left of the netting behind home plate.
On our final country cookout I took some time to tour the quaint, yet charming village of Markinch. The elevators are long closed up, the old hotel hasn’t seen a celebration in a while, the old garage is closed for business but it’s history remains alive as it begins to see the turn of another year. I’ve taken a few photos of the community.
Next time you’re on a road trip maybe take a few minutes to steer off the highway, into a small town, and let your imagination take over as you drive by those magnificent, albeit weather beaten, buildings. Hopefully you, too, will understand why each small town has a story.
What’s special about your hometown? I’d love to hear about your small town via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.