A History of the Communities of Richmound, Horsham Linacre
submitted by Andrew Stein
A few years after the turn of the century. and probably around the peak period of settlement in the west. the first settlers started arriiving in the area where Richmound is now located. These settlers came from various European countries, besides the ones that moved in from eastern Canada and the U S A .
Richmound is the centre of a slightly rolling area of approximately 350 square miles at good farm land. of which about 85% is under cultivation. The area is also blessed with the very desirable feature of climate. along the edge of the Chinook Belt. that leaves the Winters far milder than most other parts of Saskatchewan.
The present village of Richmound is located on the NE ¼ of 23-28-W3. One hundred miles south is the US border and twelve miles west is the Alberta boundary. The South Saskatchewan River runs approximately 32 miles to the north and a like distance to the south is the Trans-Canada Highway. Paved (sic) ”Oiled” Highway 371 runs through the Village. and joins Highway 21. which runs 14 miles to the east. and Alberta Highway 41. which runs 16 miles to the west. Local businesses serve most of the needs of the district, but an hour’s drive takes you to your choice of the larger business and medical centres of Medicine Hat, Maple Creek or Leader.
Early in 1910 settlers began arriving, and continued in large numbers until approximately 1914, when most at the land available for settlement had been homesteaded. Most of these settlers were attracted by the cheap homesteads offered here in Western Canada. For a $10.00 fee one quarter section homestead could be acquired. and another quarter section could be acquired as a Preemption for the same $10.00 fee. Some of these early settlers were also fleeing oppression and the fear of revolution and war in Europe, and to them Canada meant liberty and freedom.
With the great influx of settlers the need for community services developed. Since the nearest post office was located at Hatton. in 1912. application for the services of a post office received approval. C. W. Wilde was appointed the first postmaster of the new office. named “Richmound”: as suggested by Mrs. C. W. Wilde. This new post office was set up in the Wilde home, three miles west of the present site of Richmound.
To supply the immediate needs of the homesteaders, Mr. C. W. Wilde, in 1914, started a small grocery store, also in his home. This meant numerous long trips to Hatton by horse and wagon for supplies sometimes in severe weather conditions and poor roads, especially in wintertime.
The need for a school also arose, and Mr. W. V. Covey took the lead in negotiations with the Department of Education. After organization meetings and discussions the name “Oasis” was chosen, and the site, that of the present Richmound school, was selected.
The Richmound area has always been noted for being very sports conscious, especially in the field of baseball. In 1913 the first Richmound baseball team was organized and a Sports Day (Picnic as these community gatherings were then called) was held on May 24 at Oasis School the Site of the ’present Richmound school. As a matter of note “Oasis” school became “Richmound” school in 1958. Sports Days have since been held annually at Richmound on this same Victoria Day weekend. and at this date are still being successfully held. It has been for years noted as the best and largest Sports Day to be held in this south west Saskatchewan area, and still attracts approximately 50 or more ball teams every year.
Before the organization of the local RM, the Oasis School Board had to prepare its own assessment rolls, set the tax rate and collect the taxes. The first year’s taxes. for 1913, were levied on the basis of $10.00 per Quarter section, and amounted to a sum of $570.00. This sum had to take care of building and equipment payments. as well as the teacher’s salary. The need for a RM. in the area prompted organizational work by a number of area residents in 1913, and on January 1, 1914, RM. Enterprise No 172 came into being.
The religious needs of the settlers in the area were met by the establishing, at an early date, of several churches. Mass was celebrated, until 1917 or 1918, in private homes by Fathers Hermandung, Rapp and Groetschel. In 1918 the first Catholic Church was built on land donated by John Stodalka, about three miles north west of the site of the present Roman Catholic Church. Lumber was hauled by horses and wagon from Hatton. All work was done by voluntary labor, with considerable time being donated by Nels Barsness, a local settler and skilled carpenter, who was a non-Catholic. Mrs. John Stodalka served many free meals to the builders, and when the church was named, she was honored by having the church named St. Mary's, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, whose name she bore. The present Roman Catholic Church in Richmound still bears this name. The first couple married in the new church were Allan Stodalka and Marion Steigel and the second couple were George Lannan and Rose Stodalka. The first funeral was that of Felix Steigel and the second that of Andrew Lannan. To the south east of Richmound the same priests also celebrated mass in private homes, until approximately 1917 when Haverhill school was built and used on Sundays as a temporary church. In 1927 the parishes of Haverhill and St. Mary’s were amalgamated. St. Mary’s church was moved into Richmound and an addition added to serve the larger congregation.
The first Lutheran Church in the area, New Kronsfeld, was built in 1912, and located on the site of the present Fred Sulz farm. The first deacon was A. Kindopp and the early pastors were Rev. Schpore, Shorman and Hertz. In 1917 this church was moved to a more central location, eleven miles south and one mile west of Richmound. The first marriage in this church was that of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Herter, and the first funeral that of a Mr. Miller. New Kronsfeld church was finally closed in 1971 and the congregation was merged with Schuler “Good Hope” church and with Hilda “Bethlehem”. Zion Lutheran Church was built in 1919, two miles west and two miles south of Horsham. Early pastors were the Rev. Becker, Beltz and John H. Meyer. In 1950 this church was closed and some of the congregation were merged with “Peace” congregation in Schuler, Alberta and took the name “Good Hope”. The rest of the congregation joined with the “Bethlehem” church located in Hilda, Alberta. Both these parishes are served with a pastor residing in Schuler.
Before the coming of the railroad, but with the establishment of schools, churches, and business in the area, the need for communication arose in order to lessen the isolation of the the settlers. So, in 1918 the North Forres Rural Telephone Company was organized and the first central office located approximately eight miles south of Richmound. This rural telephone system grew to quite a large organization, and at its peak served, besides the rural area, the Villages of Richmound, Golden Prairie and Fox Valley; and the Hamlets of Tunstall, Hatton, Horsham and Linacre. It brought long distance service by connecting to the main telephone line six miles south of Hatton.
The Central Office was moved to Richmound in 1947, as a more central location for service. As SaskTel branched out it took over services in Fox Valley, Richmound and Golden Prairie and all long distance service by approximately 1967. Finally, in 1977, SaskTel took over complete services of the North Forres Telephone Company in the area, bringing to a conclusion an organization that had accomplished a great deal and performed a much needed service for the area.
By 1921, Oscar Wilde took over the operation of the Post Office and the Wilde General Store, still on the Wilde farm, and operated this business until 1925.
Then in 1925, the CPR. was laid through the area, and many scattered activities, besides the new ones, found their centre in the Hamlet of Richmound, at the present location of the Village of Richmound.
During 1924, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, in Richmound, built one of its first 450 elevators in the Province, and started buying grain in 1925. The Paterson, Pioneer, and Federal Grain Companies followed with elevators of their own, in operation by 1927. That same year, 1925, Philip Hahn built a blacksmith shop and Mr. McKinley Knight started operation of a General Store in conjunction with the Post Office.
The history of Richmound would not be complete if the dust storms and drought of the 1930’s and their effects on the community were not mentioned. The severe drought and wind and the terrible dust storms reduced sown fields to drifting deserts and even covered a lot of the grasslands so that grass could not grow. The dust storms were so bad that at times you could not see to get from house to barn on the farms, and lights were kept burning during the day. Shovels were used to shovel dust and dirt out of the houses after a few days of severe blowing dust.
Another great milestone attained by the Village of Richmound took place on June 1, 1947. On that day the village was officially incorporated and became an independent Urban Municipality. Before thls the village was under the jurisdiction of the local RM. of Enterprise. who levied and collected village taxes and looked after its needs Due to a variety of reasons and needs of the residents of Richmound. they held a meeting and decided to incorporate in order to manage their own local affairs. After the Department of Municipal Affairs approval this incorporation became effective on June 1. 1947. The first Council elected consisted of Mr. A C. Cameron. (Appointed mayor) and minors Wendell Denis and John Materi. The first secretary treasurer hired was Philip Stein who received wages of 85.00 for the balance of 1947. Also as a matter of record the mill rate for 1947 was set at 10 mills.
In local rural municipal affairs, on January 1, 1951, an amalgamation took place involving the RM. of Enterprise. Under its terms, the office of the RM. of Bitter Lake, to the south, was closed. The two southernmost townships were added to the Local Improvement District of Maple Creek, while the four townships to the north were added to the RM. of Enterprise. This enlarged unit became RM. Enterprise No. 142, and is still operating as such at this date, with its office in Richmound.
With the Council of the Village of Richmound taking over the operations of the Village in 1947, many needs, both old and new, required attention. Routine items, like bylaws, streets, sidewalks, nuisance grounds, etc. were looked into and taken care of to the ability of the new village. In the first few years of village operation the need for electrical power arose, and, after a public meeting, a start was made to obtain power for the village in 1951
During 1951 and 1952 numerous meetings and much correspondence took place between the Saskatchewan Power Corporation and the village officials. After much discussion the Saskatchewan Power Corporation agreed to build the power distribution system within the village, and also sent generating diesels to the village for their power generating needs. During 1952 all this was accomplished, and on November 1 of that same year, power was turned on within the village and operated on a 24-hour basis. The village operated this system of power until 1956, when Saskatchewan Power Corporation built a power line west of Highway 21 to Richmound. After remodelling their distribution system in Richmound they took over the supply and distribution of power within the village in December, 1956. At this approximate same time many area farms were also serviced for power by Saskatchewan Power Corporation.
Due to a number of good crops and the slower sales of grain, the area found the Richmound grain elevators full most of the time, and farmers needed to move the large amounts of grain they held on their farms. So, in 1955, a large quonset type building was constructed in Richmound and filled with wheat by the Pioneer Grain Company. Construction of the building was paid for by donations and a small payment by farmers using the facilities to sell their grain. Later these payments were repaid to the farmers as the grain storage payments came in. After the grain trade returned to normal, the grain was removed and the building remodelled to house a new three sheet artificial ice curling rink in 1961. This same building, after renovations and improvements, is still in use every winter for curling.
Also in 1957, a new Roman Catholic Church was built within the village, as the old church was badly outdated and much too small. The same building still adequately serves the needs of the Catholic residents of the area, and the present resident priest is Rev. Fr. Joseph Blatz O.M.I.
Then, in December of 1959, Richmound was again struck by fire. Starting in Ben Hepfner’s Pool Room, presumably from a coal stoker, the fire was first noticed at about 3:30 am. By morning, the pool room and the Enterprise Hotel, next door, had been completely destroyed. A fairly strong northwest wind threatened to spread this fire, but the volunteer fire fighters were able to save a nearby residence and also other business buildings in the vicinity.
Loss of the Hotel and Cafe was a serious blow to the well being of Richmound. So, after a few meetings, a group of business men and area farmers formed the Richmound Hotel Company. They sold shares, and after obtaining the necessary lots, started construction of a new hotel. This modern hotel was built at a cost of about $80,000.00 and was put into operation in December, 1960.
This was a major step in keeping the Village of Richmound viable in serving the needs of the area residents. With a few changes in management this Hotel and Cafe are still busy serving Richmound and area under the present management of Ken and Merle McCuaig, who are now the owners of this business.
In April, 1961, with the aid and approval of Richmound Village Council and the Council of RM. No. 142, McLaren Lake Regional Park was established, within the RM. of Enterprise No. 142, five miles west and eight miles south of Richmound. Others joining in this project were, villages of Fox Valley and Golden Prairie and the R.M.’s of Fox Valley and Big Stick. With diligence and perseverance and a lot of volunteer work by numerous people this little Regional Park was successfully very well established. Trees were planted, grass sown, a kitchen built and a nine hole golf course laid out. This Park has now turned into a very popular resort, with many people using the facilities during summer months. It boasts fishing, boating, golfing, swimming and electrical plug-ins for campers and trailers. The trees have progressed quite well and now show up like an oasis in the middle of area grain fields. During the summer there is a resident caretaker and the facilities are well used for camping, boating, fishing, picnics, golf, and ball games. Quite a good number of Richmound and area residents have taken an active part in the establishment and the maintenance of this popular Regional Park.
As time progressed the need for sewer and water (was quite evident) for the Village of Richmound, in order to keep pace with the times and for the convenience of the residents. So, after much negotiating and planning, the Village Council with the aid of government grants was able to have a sewage system installed within the village. This construction took place in 1963, and was in use by October 1 of that same year, Once the sewage system was in use the Village Council started to work on locating a water supply. After a lot of engineering work and exploration drilling, a good water supply was located about one and one half miles southwest of the Village, where a ground spring had been flowing since early settlers moved into the area. Then the construction of the water mains, pumping system, storage cistern and user connections was commenced and completed in 1966, and put into service by August 1.
During this time the Village Council had been in contact with the Provincial Government to try to bring the convenience of gas to the Village. Since a great deal of gas drilling, and pipeline gathering systems construction was taking place in the area, this seemed feasible. So, in 1969, the Saskatchewan Power Corporation brought gas to the Village and within a short time nearly all the homes and businesses were serviced. This gas service was brought to the Village in a gas line laid from a gas well about six miles northwest of here.
In the summer of 1971, with the oiling of Highway 371, through the Village, the Council was able to have main street oiled by this government oiling crew. A few years later the Village Council was able to complete this oiling program to include all the streets within the Village. This project was completed in August, 1975, and certainly is a major improvement for the Village of Richmound. At this same time the local R.M. was able to oil about 25 miles of their grid roads, including the road leading to McLaren Lake Regional Park.
In the fall of 1971, grants became available for Local Improvements from the Federal and Provincial Governments. Work was started by interested residents of the Village and area to initiate construction of a new skating arena. The Village Council, with the RM. support, undertook this project, and by the winter of 1972, this new and modern facility was ready for the use and enjoyment of Village and area residents. Renovations took place that winter, and for the next couple of years, to complete the waiting room, lunch counter, dressing rooms, lockers and bathroom facilities. Another area was constructed upstairs, above the main waiting room, for another spectator area, dressing room and lockers. This arena, of course, entailed endless hours of planning, canvassing and a substantial amount of local and area donations. Volunteer labor by people too numerous to mention by name was a major factor in the arena construction.
Horsham Blacksmith Shop: Werre Brothers: Ed and Walter Werre came to Horsham in 1929 from Hatton, Sask. They lived in a small dwelling east of the Haskell Store and remained in Horsham for two years. Bill Fairfield arrived in 1930 and lived with the F. C. Haskells for a year before taking residence in the small dwelling east of the store. Bill did blacksmith work up until 1934 when he moved to Meadow Lake. Bill had a blacksmith shop in Meadow Lake also. He was known as the best blacksmith of the 30’s; he could fix anything and make anything. He married Alberta Vachon in 1935. They moved to Nanaimo, 8.0. in the 40’s. Mrs. Fairfield passed away while there. They had four children, Paul, Irene, Ruby and Shirley. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Gower and family, George, Alex and Doug, took up residence in the dwelling occupied by former blacksmith operators. Vern Gower, brother of Bill lived with them as well. He was a wood worker by trade. They stayed in Horsham until 1940 before moving to Richmound. During their stay in Horsham their daughter, Jenny, and her husband, Jack Hooper, arrived with their family and remained there until the move to Richmound. Mr. and Mrs. W. Karp arrived in 1940 from Leader, Sask. A two-roomed stucco house had been built for them to live in. This was provided by Mr. F. C. Haskell. They stayed for two years before moving on.
The need for a blacksmith wasn’t as great in the ensuing years due to the change in farming techniques. Therefore, the blacksmith shop was never reopened.
LINACRE -submitted by Dorothy Chisholm
Linacre, located on Section 34-17-27 began as a little shed south of the slough and railroad tracks when Pete Ostead had a little store from which he sold bars, shoe laces and such knick-knacks.
In 1924 Andrew Johnson moved a granary into Linacre and opened up a store. He brought groceries from Medicine Hat. In 1925 he moved a house to live in from the farm, and built a store which was only recently torn down. In November, 1925, he also became first post master for Linacre.
On Janurary 4, 1926 the name of the post office was changed from Haverhill to Linacre. Mr. Johnson was storekeeper, gas and oil dealer, and postmaster until 1929 when John Renner purchased the business.
The steel came through in 1926. Grain was bought on the track and loaded right into the box cars. Abe Helgeson was the buyer. The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool built an elevator in 1927 and Joe Armstrong was the first agent. His wife was a nurse, much called for in the community. She is presently living in the Cypress Lodge at Maple Creek.
The N. M. Paterson Company built an elevator in 1928. H. H. Arnold helped build it and then became grain buyer. The Company had built an office on the side which not only served as office but living quarters as well for H. H. Arnold and his wife (former Blanche Coderre).
When John Renner took over the store, he increased sales to include hardware, paints, clothing and machinery. Mr. Renner had the dealership for Massey-Harris, John Deere and Minneapolis machinery. Joe Stein, who was his service man for a time, remembers having set together 20 combines just before harvest in 1939.
John Sodi, who had come to Canada from Hungary about 1930, opened a blacksmith shop. He was kept busy sharpening plow shares, making horse shoes, shoeing horses as well as other smithy jobs. He was married and had three children. In 1945 he moved to Fox Valley and sold his house to Mike Schwengler.
Andrew Stein, clerk for John Renner moved a house south of the tracks and he, Katherine, and June lived there until Andrew joined the armed forces. After the war he moved his house to Richmound.
In 1943, Erasmus Stein who was the Paterson agent built a house and they lived there until Erasmus, too, joined the armed forces. While he was in the army, Carl Swanson was grain buyer and lived in the house. Carl was married to Florida Coderre and they had four girls.
Linacre was growing but in the early 1940’s this little hamlet reached its peak population. It boasted about 35 inhabitants.
George Benn was the Pool agent and he, his wife and three boys were Linacre residents in the early 1940’s.
Julius Winters, moved a house in from east of Fox Valley to live in. He was married and had three children. He built and operated a pool room until he joined the armed forces. After the war, he and his family left Linacre.
Joseph and Mary Fleck lived in the hamlet for five or six years before moving their house to their farm. Their eldest son, Lloyd who was later to become one of Linacre’s officials, was born during that time. Lloyd was postmaster at Linacre in 1961 and 1962 when Joe and Mary operated the store.
Jack Ingenthron also lived in Linacre in the early 1940’s. He had a trucking business and farmed as well. He moved his house to Medicine Hat and he and his family moved there.
In the fall of 1943, John Renner sold the business to Jesske Brothers. Albert and Henry ran the business and Elma was post mistress until the summer of 1946 when Albert moved to Fox Valley and Henry took over post office and business. In 1947 he sold to Val Weigel and Mike Schwengler. Val was postmaster until 1950 when he became a grain buyer and Frank Schwengler became post master and operator of the store.
In 1952, Bill Chisholm bought the house from Mike Schwengler and moved in to Linacre. He was a trucker hauling cattle and grain for farmers for miles around. At that time, few farmers had big trucks so Bill spent many long hours moving grain, hauling to elevators and taking cattle to market. In 1960, he moved the house to Maple Creek and lived in it until recently when he sold it and bought another.