Home Town or Home Community:
The Early Years
The story of the Town of Ituna began with the first wave of European settlers who arrived in 1905. Before this time the area was inhabited by a few Indians, Metis and a very few settlers who had arrived in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The land was relatively untouched and the first settlers to arrive in 1905 saw before them wide, unbroken prairies, slightly rolling hills and bluffs of trees and a pretty little lake nestled among poplar trees.
In 1905, the promise of 160 acres of land for $10 and the dream of a new start brought English, Irish and Scottish immigrants, most of them bachelors. Each parcel of land purchased carried with it the agreement to clear 10 acres of land and to build a home upon that land within 10 years. The abundance of trees would provide logs for these homes and for heating as well, while the rich soil was used for sod roofs and also ensured production of crops.
In 1905 as well, construction had begun on the Grand Trunk Railway and in 1907, the Railway reached the lake on the east edge of Ituna. The Railway was a huge advantage to the growing community and in 1907 and 1908, it brought a large number of settlers of Ukrainian decent whose traditions and customs are an important part of the Ituna community today.
Seeing possibilities for a new community, Mr. R.T. Grant, who had lived in the area for a time and operated a store seven miles south-west of the present community, purchased 40 acres of land immediately south of the rail line and subdivided it into lots. Here he built a large store. A livery business was begun by George Davey, a restaurant by Bert Chorney and an implement business was also begun. In 1908, William Scott constructed the first grain elevator, anticipating the need for storage and shipment of grain by rail.
There was disagreement, however, on where the town should actually be located. Mr. T. G. Morrison, who had been a rancher in the area for many years and had encouraged settlers to the area, thought that the town site should be located on the north side of the rail line. He began construction of a hardware store on the north side which was followed by the post office. The restaurant relocated from the south side to the north and other businesses followed. Today, the town lies on both sides of the rail line, with businesses being located predominantly on the north side.
Ituna was incorporated as a village on May 30, 1910, its unique name originating from a combination of the desire of the Grand Trunk Railway to name all its towns in alphabetical order and ancient history. Since the preceding towns were Fenwood, Goodeve and Hubbard, the town needed a name beginning with “I”. “Ituna” was chosen, the name of a location at the end of Hadrian’s Wall, which was built by the Roman Empire in 12 A.D. Mr. F.S. Carson became the first overseer.
Ituna continued to thrive as a bustling prairie community. Homes sprang up within the progressive community. Rather than install boardwalks as were most common in communities of the time, cement sidewalks were poured and gravel streets and roads were added. Another elevator was built to service the needs of the growing agricultural area. The Lake became a recreational area in the summer, offering swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing and tennis courts and it was the home of many Sports Days.
The following businesses and services were operational in Ituna during these years and were noted in a listing of local business advertisements in 1914:
Carson, Morrison & Watson – hardware and furniture, farm implements, real estate, loans and insurance.
Parmiter and Veals, Ituna Store – dealer in fancy and simple dry goods, boots, shoes, groceries, crockery, flour and feed.
D.R. Ballock – Constructor in cement work, particularly sidewalks and basements
T.P. Jenner – builder and constructor
- Carriere – butcher, dealer in hides, furs, livestock, hams and bacon, poultry and fish
- Gurevisch – Ituna Farmer’s Friend Store -general merchant, dealer in dry goods, boots and shoes
Post Office – S.A. Veals – issuer of marriage and games licenses, stationery, novelties and school supplies, medical instruments, photographs, pictures – Framer’s Co-operative Fire Insurance
The Bank of British North America – J. A Watson, Manager
The Carlton Hotel – new and up – to date, hot air furnace, all trains met, $1.50 per day T.P. Jennner, Proprietor
Ituna Livery, Feed and Sale – good horses and reasonable rates to all points. Licenses, auctioneer, G.W. Davey, Proprietor
F.X. Poitras – general merchant, dry goods, clothes, gent’s furnishings, boots and shoes, crockery, harness and hardware
- Pilcha – pool room, barber shop, cigars and soft drinks
Reliance Lumber Company – dry lumber and building material – W.N. McIntosh, manager
J.W. Hudson – notary public, quarter sections suitable for investment from $1000
Mrs. McCullough _ drugstore
Several original but renovated buildings housing businesses in those early years remain in Ituna today. A flour mill, located behind the present Parkland Distributors was dismantled and rebuilt. It housed a brick factory and later F&W Service as well as a beauty shop on the upper floor. Today it is Parkland Distributors.
The Royal Bank now occupies the lot where the Carlton Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1926, once stood. The Carlton Hotel was a beautiful 40 room accommodation.
Sametz Pharmacy now occupies the building once known as the Bank of Commerce. It was at one time also the office and living quarters of Dr. Collins.
A building that was first a General Store later became a café in 1919. It had numerous owners as a café and has been the Ituna Social Club for many years.
Carson, Morrison & Watson Implement Shop and later Dan Gallant International Harvester and Chevrolet Dealership once occupied the lot where Leontowich Sales and Service has stood since 1953. The original building was lost to fire and after being rebuilt was again destroyed by fire.
The Ituna Town Office was originally Mrs. McCullough’s Drug Store. It also housed the offices of Drs. Furrel and Riddell. Later it was John Lesuik’s Drugstore, then a Red &White Store until it became a Royal Bank from 1946 to 1968 and then finally, the Ituna Town Office.
The lot now occupied by Sears and Ituna Accounting as well as Ituna News was once the site of the Post Office, a bowling alley, a Marshall Wells Store, Parkland Distributors, a flower shop and home of Ken’s Radio & TV and then private living quarters before becoming the home of its present occupants.
Parno Meats was first a Bank of British North America, then a Bank of Montreal whereupon it became a meat shop and living quarters, operating under the name of Parno Meats but with a few different owners.
The present Bailey’s Funeral Home was built as a café in 1910. It was also a tailor and shoe repair service, a butcher shop, jewelry shop and a Red & White store.
A building now owned by Ladimer Kowlachuk and until recently used for the manufacturing of flat deck trailers, was originally a store, bank, RCMP office, jail, Bill Kuz’s ShoeShop, a café, Bazuik’s Department Store and later Kowlachuk’s Clothing. Today it is the manufacturing location of Safety Bath, a walk-in bathtub.
Religion played a very important part in the lives of the early settlers. Their faith in God brought them to a new way of life and sustained them through great hardships. It is no surprise that it was of utmost importance to them to build places of worship within the community. Through the area, there were many small parishes of various faiths, places where people came to marry, baptize and bury their loved ones and to give thanks to God for guiding them through life in a new land.
The history of the Roman Catholic Church dates back to the days of the Riel rebellion, long before the community of Ituna came into being. The very first settlers who came to the area arrived in 1880 and were mostly French speaking and Catholic. A small log church was built 6 miles west of Ituna. Named St. Dolphins, approximately 35 Catholic families attended services at this church. Later, when settlers arrived from Poland and western Ukraine, they also attended this little church. In time, another church was built, three miles east of Ituna. The church was completed in 1909 and a rectory built, however, a resident pastor only lived in it for one year. Then, until 1919, the parish was served by priests from larger areas. In 1924, the St. Dolphins church was moved into Ituna and an addition was built on to it. It was renamed St. Stanislaus. In 1958, the present St. Stanislaus Church and Rectory were built, largely through volunteer labor and under the direction of Walter Mazden.
The St. Georges’s Anglican Church, built originally by Métis families and situated 4 miles south west of the village site, was moved into the village of Ituna. This is thought to be the first church built in the community of Ituna, around the year 1910. A two room vicarage was built just southeast of the Church. St. George’s Anglican Church was last used in the 1970’s. Sadly, in 2003, the church was disassembled and moved to Copper Basin, Arizona, where it was reassembled and stands today.
The original Sacred Heart Church was built in 1919 – it had earlier utilized the Ituna Hotel, after it was idled by “prohibition” in 1915. Due to financial difficulties, the church and its property was assigned to the Ukrainian Redemptorist Fathers in 1921, who have served the Church since that time. Construction of the existing monastery began in 1949. In 1952, substantial renovations were done to the interior of the church. In 1963 construction began on the existing church has a seating capacity of 600 people. The new church was officially opened April 19, 1964. More information can be found at http://www.sasktelwebsite.net/redemfa/ituna.htm
A renovated store, formerly the Ituna Trading Store at the south end of the town became the home of St. Ann’s orphanage in 1922. The orphanage was operated by the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate and was built to serve the physical and educational needs of orphans left parentless following the great flu epidemic of 1918. It was demolished and a new orphanage was built in 1938 on the north end of town. In 1974, St. Ann’s became the home of retired Sisters. It has since been renovated and now operates a St. Ann’s Private Care Home. In 1926, A Parish Hall was built in 1926 and it was later destroyed by fire in 1935. The Hall was rebuilt the following year and served the community until 1972 when it was enlarged. It was damaged by fire in 1985 and the present Sacred Heart Parish Centre was built in 1986. Today, the Sacred Heart Parish Centre serves as a local centre for concerts, weddings, banquets and public meetings.
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church was built in 1924 and stands on a knoll in the southeast end of Ituna. Prior to the building of this church, services were held in homes and in the Anglican Church, which was rented for $25 a year. The present rectory was built in 1951. The bell tower was erected following World War II and in the early 1980’s the Church was renovated and made larger. The artist talents of New York artist Boris Makarenko in 1984 and again in 1986, have added much to make this a beautiful church.
Parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in need of a facility to hold meetings, purchased a building west of the present Post Office for this purpose. Later a house was used which is on the site of the present rectory. In 1962, the present Rose Garden Hall was purchased from Mr. Orest Turevych. It became a meeting place for activities of the parish as well as a facility for weddings, concerts and anniversaries. More information can be found at http://www.ituna-wadena.org/
The United Church held services in the Ituna Town Hall beginning in1910. Prior to 1925 when the United Church of Canada was formed, the roots of the Lakeside United Church could be found in the Presbyterian Church in Hubbard, the Methodist Church of Bon Accord and the Wyber “school” meeting. In 1938 a building was purchased and remodeled for use a church. The Lakeside United Church as it stands today was built in 1959.
As the community grew the need for a school became apparent. In March, 1909, $800.00 was borrowed for the purpose a building a schoolhouse, “FruitVale School”, which was completed in December of that year. A picture of the class of 1910 shows 32 eager students and their teacher, Miss McGee.
In 1920, due to the growing enrolment, a new school was built. This school still remains today though not in use for over 20 years. Made of brick and stone and containing 4 classrooms and a basement where classes were also held, the school was impressive in its time. The old school was moved just south of the red school and became known as the “Cottage School”.
Enrolments remained stable until after the Second War when the population again increased. By the early 1950’s it became evident that more classrooms were essential, however, it was not until 1957 that a four room high school was approved.
Further growth demanded more room and an eight room addition and an auditorium became a reality in 1959. Unfortunately, in 1959 a fire destroyed the original four room school built only 2 years previously. Classrooms were badly damaged and many records destroyed. Classes were held in locations through the community until the school was rebuilt the following spring. As rural schools closed and students from a large area were bussed into Ituna to school, more changes and additions became necessary. Additions and renovations took place in 1965 and again in 1971, when the school enrolment was over 600 students.
In 2012, while the school enrolment is 185 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, a staff of near 15 teach and 6 support staff continue to minister to the educational needs through a full program of core subjects and electives. Ituna School remains a modern, newly upgraded K-12 facility. Through the amalgamation of school divisions, Ituna School now belongs to Horizon School Division. The school offers two networked computer labs, industrial arts, home economics and science labs, library and gymnasium facilities. A wide number of extracurricular activities are also provided.
In 2001, the old gymnasium floor was replaced with a hardwood floor. More information regarding Ituna School can be found at http://itunaschool.hzsd.ca/
Following the incorporation of Ituna as a village in 1910, a town council of three persons was established. One of the three persons was the overseer and was elected by the other two. All revenue depended entirely on taxation with no government grants being available. The Council was responsible for social aid as well as local improvements. Four public wells were provided by the town. The village also owned its own power plant until October 31, 1951 when Saskatchewan Power Commission began to supply power.
The village was responsible for fire protection which was provided by a two wheeled vehicle until 1937 when it purchased its first two man fire engine and established its own voluntary fire department. In 1953 the first fire hall was built along with a cistern for water storage. In 1962 a rural fire protection association was formed between the R.M. of Ituna Bon Accord #246, R.M. of Tullymet #216 and the Town of Ituna. A fire truck was purchased in 1974 and housed in the Town Fire Hall on Main Street, formerly a garage purchased from Matt Stecyk.
In 1911, a Town Hall was built and served the village until 1950. At that time it was demolished and the Post Office was built on the same property. The town hall then occupied the building formerly occupied by the Royal Bank. It opened at this location in October, 1951 and remains in this building to the present.
In 1962 the population of the village had grown to 860 and steps were taken to establish recognition of the community as a town. In October 1961 the village of Ituna officially became a town and the council which had until this time consisted of three councilors was increased to six councilors and a mayor. Water and sewer systems were completed in 1962 and in that same year the first paving program began. Today, Ituna can boast that almost all streets within the town are paved.
The first town park was located in the southwest corner of the village. The fifteen acres along the lake provided swimming, boating and areas for picnicking for a growing community. Beginning in 1948, this land was sold in various parcels for the purpose building a hospital, then a school and then the skating and curling rinks. In 1966, a new area was established for the Ituna and District Regional Park in the southeast corner of Ituna. The park facilities consist of a ball diamonds and bleachers, full service campground facilities, a Junior Olympic size swimming pool, 9 hole sand green golf course and club house.
A Kiddies Park established by the Ituna & District Lions Club in 1968, provides a playground and play equipment for the children of the community and is located adjacent to the Ituna and District Health care Centre.
The Ituna Millennium Park was constructed in the year 2000, largely by volunteer labour, as a joint project of the Town of Ituna, Rural Municipality of Bon Accord and the Rural Municipality of Tullymet. The park is situated on Main Street and features walkways, flowers, shrubs as well as park benches and tables where one can relax and have lunch or visit with friends. The central point of the park is a huge rock upon which the inscription reads: “This rock symbolizes the hard work and vision of the people who built this multicultural community and laid a solid foundation for future generations as we embark on the third millennium of the Christian era.”
In 1944 the community of Ituna began to raise funds for a curling rink. The building consisted of two sheets of ice and was located one block east of Main Street. A new rink followed in 1967. It housed 4 sheets of ice and was built in the northwest corner of the town. In 1980 an artificial ice plant was added. Both rinks were built largely with volunteer labor and the present rink continues to operate with this same community spirit.
Construction of the Ituna Skating Rink began in 1961. It too was funded largely by donations of money and volunteer labour and continues to operate today largely in the same way. It fueled the dreams of many a young hockey player and figure skater and was the home of the National Leafs Hockey team, a Junior “B” team that had its home in Ituna in the 1960’s.
The community has flourished due to the co-operative spirit of its residents. Among those service clubs and community organizations that have played a significant role in the development of the community are:
Sacred Heart UCWL, St. Stanislaus CWL, St. Ohla’s Ukrainian Women’s Association, Knights of Columbus, Ituna & District Recreation BoardBeaver Hills Wildlife Club, Ituna Lions, Ituna Lioness, Ituna Chamber of Commerce, Ituna Minor Sports, Ituna 4-H Club, Ituna Scouts, St. Joseph’s Homemakers Club, Ituna & District Health Care Auxiliary, Ituna Curling Club, Ituna Social Club, Klenovee Lysky Ukrainian Dance Club, Ituna Figure Skating Club, Sunshine Friendship Club,
The Town of Ituna and surrounding municipalities, the Rural Municipality of Bon Accord and the Rural Municipality of Tullymet have been largely sustained by agriculture, in the form of grain and cereal crops, livestock and hog operations.
The black soil and good moisture have lent themselves to a variety of crops. Red spring wheat, barley, oats, rye, oil seeds (canola and flax) and more recently, specialty crops such as lentils, peas and canary seed have been among those produced in the area. Beef cattle are the predominant livestock and hay production is also valuable.
A photo taken in 1926 reveals four elevators along the CNR train tracks: Union Grain Company, Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company, Victoria Elevator Company and Security Elevator Company. The original Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator was built in 1911. It held 35,000 bushels and was operated by the Co-op Elevator Company until 1926 when it was purchased by Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. The original Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Elevator was dismantled in 1952 and a new 75,000 bushel facility was built and an equal sized annex was added in 1975. In 1993, a slip form concrete elevator with a capacity of 330,000 bushels of storage in 25 bins was constructed by J-Sons Inc., 2 miles east of Ituna.
The National Grain Company began operating in Ituna in 1923. In 1974 the company was acquired by Cargill Ltd. Due to the need for more storage a 75,000 bushel elevator was built in 1976 with an additional 10,000 bushel annex being added in 1980. In 1984, Ituna Cargill handled over one million bushels of grain.
In 2004, Ituna continues to be served by these two grain companies, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Cargill Ltd. As well, numerous trucking services are available to take products to market.
The first hospital was located in the southwest part of the village was opened in 1949. The building was originally an “H” hut that belonged to the Canadian Air Force base in Yorkton. It was moved, renovated and made ready by Dr. Fayerman and Miss Christine Jamieson, R.N. Volunteer labour and a newly organized Hospital Ladies Aide did much to establish the hospital. This building later became the home of the library, museum, club rooms for the Knights of Columbus, Lions Clubs and Beaverhills Wildlife Club as well as public health and community college offices.
In 1969, a new hospital was built in the northeast section of the town. It closed in 1997. The 36 bed Ituna and District Pioneer Lodge was built in 1974 and operated as such until 1997 when the Ituna Hospital became a part of the Ituna and District Pioneer Lodge and became known as the Ituna and District Health Care Centre, now a part of the Sunrise Health Region.
As Ituna approaches its 102nd birthday, it can look back with pride and ahead with anticipation of the years to come. Though the population has decreased in past, the population in the last few years is constantly increasing. The Town of Ituna remains a viable community. Neat, well cared for yards and paved streets are testimony that we care about our community. Businesses found within the town in 2012 include two financial institutions, two well supplied grocery stores, a convenience store, a movie theatre, 4 beauty salons, an auto body repair, several dealers of agricultural supplies and equipment, automotive suppliers, construction services and contractors and building suppliers, a greenhouse, grain handlers, funeral services, a motel and hotel, two insurance agencies,, a drugstore, manufacturer of a walk-in bathtub, an antique dealer, liquor store, trucking companies, website designer, craft dealers, a car wash, 4 restaurants, and a newspaper. A list of current businesses can be found on our website at [url]http://www.ituna.ca/Business%20Listings.html[/url]
Services include a private care home for seniors, a playschool, an agency operating three homes and a day program for handicapped persons, a health care centre and home for senior citizens, ambulance, a public library, RCMP detachment, low rental housing, a museum, swimming pool, golf course, skateboard area, parks, churches, a centre for senior citizens, banquet and catering facilities, recycling depot, Kinsmen Handicap Van, and volunteer fire department, skating and curling arenas.
The spirit of community and co-operation that built Ituna from its early days, remains today. It is a place where you may find volunteers involved in a variety of activities, working for the betterment of the community…working in arena and curling rink kitchens, beautifying parks, and repairing and up keeping recreational buildings and facilities. On a winter’s day you may often find a perogy bee where ladies, young and old have come together to make perogies.
Ituna also remains a community where religion and culture continue to play an important role. It is a community that acknowledges the value of Christian ethics and while encompassing and respecting all cultures present within the community, Ituna has maintained its connections to Ukrainian culture and traditions.