Who Lived There?

Sometimes a person just needs to go on a road trip to clear one’s mind, to see what’s in our own backyard, and to just get some “back road therapy.” Saskatchewan is inundated with old barns, churches, houses, wooden elevators, and dilapidated ghost towns along highways and backroads that once housed hundreds of families in the early years of the province.

(house near Avonhurst, SK – photo by Cody Glydon)

One can’t help but wonder “who lived there?” I ask myself this question all the time when I pass by an old house or a dwindling hamlet because someone had to have settled there. Southern Saskatchewan is home to lots of ghost towns, old country churches, and stone farmhouses but, sadly, they’re not restored and kept up. It requires a lot of time, energy, and money to maintain old buildings and as families pass on or move on, many of these beautiful structures are left to rot away.

Somebody once lived in that old house you see along the road. Somebody came to this province with hopes and dreams for a better life, built a beautiful home, started a family, and made memories in that house. A family had happy moments, sad moments, and scary moments while living in that house and it makes you wonder who they were and why they left. Did they leave because of a tragedy? Did they leave because of hardship? Did they leave because of a better opportunity elsewhere? What happened to that family and who are the descendants? Did one become a famous athlete? Did one become a military hero? Did they become a well known politician? These are the questions I think about all the time. At some point, that house along the road with broken windows, destroyed shingles, and rotten floors was once a warm home and a beehive of activity. We tend to forget about that because we just see “a pile of junk in the field.”

(former gas station south of Moose Jaw – photo by Cody Glydon)

There’s a reason why many of those old homes, barns, and other structures have stood for as long as they have – it’s the workmanship and quality that went into it. No corners were cut and, in some cases, no stone left unturned. As you drive along the Trans-Canada Highway from Regina to Winnipeg you can see the incredible stone farm houses that dot the prairies. It almost makes your back hurt knowing how rudimentary some of the equipment was in those days that would carve and construct those structures we see today. Many of these structures are well over 100 years old and are still standing upright against the relentless elements of mother nature.

(Stone church near Davin, SK – photo by Cody Glydon)

Every house, every barn, and every ghost town has a story of perseverance, triumph, and tragedy. Next time you’re getting some “backroad therapy” take a moment to think about that old building that you see. Who knows….maybe that house was once in your family.

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