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The Town of Preeceville, situated near the north bank of the Assiniboine River, was first surveyed in 1911 and officially became a village in 1912. The Town of Preeceville derived its name from the Preece family. Mrs. Louise E. Preece fed the railroad crews as the track was being set in place and her home was always a welcome refuge to early pioneers who were in need of food and shelter upon their arrival to the district. In 1905, she came to Canada and settled on a homestead where Preeceville now stands. Her son, Fred, homesteaded the land. Although the pioneers came from varied cultural backgrounds, from the beginnings they have worked together to create a thriving community.

The needs of the settlers in the surrounding district governed the development of the village. The grade for the Canadian Northern Railway was constructed in 1910. The steel followed in 1911. The “Y Switch” was built in 1914, and in 1921 the steel continued westward. The first train came to Preeceville on November 11, 1911 and the station was also built in 1911.

Before 1910, the first store was built and operated by Albin and Axel Anderson. It was situated south east of Preeceville at the Cunningham River Crossing; also known as the Nesbitt-Iverson Crossing. When the bridge over the Assiniboine was built in 1910, this store moved to the southwest corner of Main Street and First Avenue West.. The General Store supplied the usual goods necessary to pioneer life, namely groceries, dry goods, comprised of clothing and dress goods, shoes, work boots, gifts, crockery, cookware, coal-oil lamps and nails. Milk pails and barn lanterns hung from the ceiling. Peter Osberg then became a partner with Albin Anderson. A south side addition provided storage, also an early Cafe and early schoolroom.

Berg Shoe Repair, Andrew Bert and daughter Hannah Year: Built in 1913

Berg Shoe Repair, Andrew Bert and daughter Hannah
Year: Built in 1913

In 1910, Alex Clark built a barbershop and poolroom. It was moved from a side street to Main Street in 1911. In August, 1911, Sam Bricker opened his store on First Avenue. They operated a machine agency. Bricker’s early store was known as the Preeceville Farmer’s Supply Co. The upstairs served as a boarding house, where Mrs. Scott Rattray served meals to railroad and construction crews. In the early years, J. White and George Robinson were associated with the Bricker Store. A Mr. Axelrod was a partner for a time selling out to Mrs. Lesiuk. The bank, the Bricker Store and the City Cafe were destroyed by fire in 1932.

Brenda Wick opened Preeceville’s first butcher shop in 1911 on the west side of Main Street. That same year, Peter Fraser built his general store, just south of the butcher shop. Colonel Kelly had built a hardware store in the vicinity of the future site of the C.N.R station. When the steel was laid in 1911, this store was moved uphill.

In 1911, the Bank of Toronto operated from a small office on the west side of Main Street, on the corner opposite the Kelly Hardware. Mr. Darragh was the first accountant when the bank opened, September 12th, 1911. In the spring of 1912, J.D. Paton became manager. In 1913, the new Bank of Toronto was erected on the bank’s present side, on the east side of Main Street.

In 1911 the T.A. Burroughs Lumber Co. erected a yard located on First Avenue East. W.A. Long was the first manager. Later, this was known as the Northern Lumber Co.

The Swan Carlson family, who had homesteaded in North Prairie district, built the Temperance Hotel in 1911, providing rooms, meals and a soda fountain. It sold patent medicines as there was no drugstore. Next to this hotel J. Gillespie erected an ice-cream parlor and bakery. A public hall occupied the second story. It was used for dances and concerts, also church services and Sunday school. Later, this building was sold to J. Klump. The ground floor became a pool hall.

Korbin & Gelmon Merchants (note colt having his dinner)

Korbin & Gelmon Merchants (note colt having his dinner)

The first postal service was provided by the Whitehawk P.O. located on the Peel farm south of Preeceville. Mr. Brodbrook became the first postmaster in 1911, followed by Mrs. Susan Mitchell. They operated the postal services from their homes. The mail came in once a week by team.

Harold Mitchell, Oliver Peterson, Ernie Lowe and Fred Nakonesky provided livery and draying services. Ernie Lowe sold to Billie Briggs in 1919. Very early tying grounds were provided for the teams of horses and oxen. Tying rails were located on Main Street, in front of the stores.

Built by Scott Rattray in 1912, the Golden West Hotel was sold to Rudy Ramsland, followed by Jack Lynch. The Swan Carlson’s operated the hotel from 1915-1917, when it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. McMurphy. The original Golden West Hotel is still in operation today.

In 1912, Mrs. Hulda Erickson opened a confectionary and Millinery Shop on the east side of Main Street. This building provided living quarters upstairs. She also became postmistress. About this time a Chinese laundry was opened by Lee Bing on First Avenue W. Shirts were laundered for 10 cents. George and Nellie Brown, who printed the Preeceville Enterprise, later purchased the laundry building.

In 1912, another general store was opened across from the hotel. The proprietor J. Feinstein, in 1913, sold to Wolfe Korbin and Tom Gelmon. Later this partnership was dissolved and Tom and Jake Gelmon operated the business.

Kelly's Hardware. Col. Kelly, Leo & Hulda Christopherson Year: Built in 1911

Kelly’s Hardware. Col. Kelly, Leo & Hulda Christopherson
Year: Built in 1911

When the Gelmon general store moved to the north corner of the same block in 1957, the building was sold to Macleods, managed by Frank Giles. In 1958 John Stadnick became manager and made some renovations.

After the railway came to Preeceville in 1911, two elevator companies began constructing elevators. The Saskatchewan Farmers Elevator Co., with grain buyer George Soules, purchased the first load of grain from Fred Preece. In 1914, there were four elevators, Searle, Home, Consolidated and Dominion. Axel Hermanson was an early agent.

In 1913, Arnold and Clarence Smedstad opened a Men’s Clothing and fine China store on Main Street. The same year Andrew Berg and Pete Elleraas built a harness retail store, including harness and shoe repair. Later A. Berg became sole owner.

In 1914, Steve Rivney built a livery barn on the south side of 2nd Avenue West. This business was sold to Steve Daschuk in 1916. The first movie house occupied the second floor. A traveling company showed the movies.

The North West Mounted Police were stationed in Preeceville in 1914. The detachment occupied a home built by Percival Greggs on Railway Avenue west of Main Street. In the very early days, the Mounties were paid two cents a mile for patrolling and owned their own horses. The Saskatchewan Provincial Police were organized in 1917, and the barracks moved to east of Main Street. In the early 1920’s a barracks, also courtroom and a residence were built on Main Street. In 1928 the forces were named the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The detachment was moved to Sturgis in the 1930’s.

Matt Berg built a blacksmith shop in 1914. This business was sold to N. Homstol and M. Mattison in 1919. Nels Homstol became sole owner in the 1920’s. Other early blacksmiths were Mike Holowachuk and Andy Gydoz.

In 1914, a Chinese Cafe, named the City Cafe was built next to the Bricker Store. An early proprietor, Louis Hauscleay, is fondly remembered for his kindness to children.

In 1914, the community experienced its first serious fire. On December 6, the fire destroyed the J. Klump building, the Carlsons Temperance Hotel and Clarks’ poolroom. Due to the determined efforts of the bucket brigade, the Golden West Hotel was saved.

Dray man Billie Briggs hauling lumber with mules Duke & Duit

Dray man Billie Briggs hauling lumber with mules Duke & Duit

Alex Clark rebuilt the poolroom and barbershop the next spring. In 1917 the Carlson’s new store, combined with an ice-cream parlor and cylinder record shop was opened for business. In 1938, Vic Sorenson bought the Carlson store, and affiliated with Red and White. After 25 years the store was sold to John and Marlene Chopty.

A drugstore was added on the north side of the Carlson building. The first pharmacist was Clarence Nightingale in 1917. In 1919 George Baal bought the drugstore. He left Preeceville in 1925, renting the store to Tom Carson, followed by Hilding Carlson. Ed Paul arrived in Preeceville in 1938. He operated the drugstore in this building until 1940, when the store was moved into the next building on the north side.

The town records show that in 1915, Dr. O’Brien was the first medical officer. In 1918 Dr. Robert W. Neill became Preeceville’s Medical Health Officer.

In 1915, on the east side of the fire hall a new business with Ford and McCormick-Deering agencies and garage facilities came into being. It was known as Long and Olsen. Nathan Stitz and Mr. Mogalensky opened a second hand store and bought furs from the trappers. Oscar Mattison and Albert Skrukrud bought out Albin Anderson’s and became partners with Pete Osberg. This store was sold to the Grain Growers. Mattison and Skrukrud built a garage on the west side of the fire hall and ventured into the automobile business, bringing in Chevrolet 490’s. Albin Anderson owned the first car in Preeceville.

About 1916, a Cream Receiving Station was opened on the west side of Main Street. It was operated by Ulysses Currie (1916-1919). This building ended up a cottage at Nelson Lake. In 1918 construction was started on a creamery on the north side of the bridge spanning the Assiniboine.

George Downs Sr. purchased the James Fraser property on Main Street. He was Justice of the Peace, an agent for Massey-Harris and Insurance Co. He also operated a livery service. Both Mrs. James Fraser and Mrs. Downs Sr. served the community in the early years as nurses and midwives.

October 1918, brought an epidemic of Spanish Influenza, with fatal results for so many. Dr. Neill spent many days and nights with little rest.

Bill Long in lumber yard office in 1913 Year: 1913

Bill Long in lumber yard office in 1913
Year: 1913

The new post office was located on First Avenue East, the present site of the Co-op Garage. It was a small building with living quarters at the back. When George Hawkins returned from overseas he became postmaster. So that it was centrally located, the Post Office was moved to the east side of Main Street. In 1958 Preeceville’s present Post Office was built.

For the early settlers, the requirements were different from the demands of today. Livery and feed stables have been replaced by garages and filling stations. The blacksmiths have given way to machine shops. The general store, as the pioneers knew it, has been replaced by the shopping cart, the self-serve, the frozen food and plastic wrap era. The oxen and horses, the railway passenger and freight services, have been superseded by cars, buses and transport trucks.

Although there were several privately owned “Delco” plants in Preeceville prior to 1928, the village with a population of 414, had no electricity. The contract to supply light and power was awarded to J.F. Dalton. In 1948, the Preeceville Electric Light works was sold to the Saskatchewan Power Corporation.

In 1935, a small private hospital was established by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Allen. In 1938 the local Board of Trade was organized. They proceeded to raise funds earmarked for a larger hospital. Construction was started in 1939 and the Community hospital was opened on October 1, 1941. As the needs of the community and surrounding area kept growing, a new 30-bed hospital was officially opened in 1970, with Mrs. Esther Paul as Matron.

Coming through the depression and the Second World War years, the town continued to grow. In 1945 with a population of 500, Preeceville was incorporated as a town, with Alex Clark as the first Mayor.

In 1960 with a population of 900, Preeceville was one of the first towns or villages to install sewer and water, followed the next year by natural gas. The storm sewers were installed in 1964 and paving of the streets commenced.

In 1946, a memorial fund was started in the community to build a memorial rink in Preeceville, to honor the men who lost their lives in the Second World War. The rink was completed in 1948 and served until 1976, when the new one was built in the northwest corner of town. A curling rink started in the 1930’s and has expanded to contain three sheets of artificial ice.

The first school the Preeceville residents attended was Beaver Bluff, two miles southwest. In 1913 a school was built in Preeceville, and a room added in 1915. It was destroyed by fire in 1921. The brick school was built in 1922, and later torn down. The new elementary school was built in 1963, north wing in 1966 and the west wing in 1975. The school gymnasium was built in 1971.

The St. John Lutheran Church was built in 1913 and the United Church in 1915-1916. The first Pentecostal Church was built in the 1930’s. The new Evangel Tabernacle on Highway 49 was dedicated in September of 1982. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was built in 1940 and dismantled in 1979. A new church was built the same year. Many of the country churches still hold services.

Preeceville has progressed and is progressing. The progress, past and present has been dependent on the people, both the citizens of the town, and the rural areas. Our thanks go to the brave hardy souls who started it all. Their courage and perseverance made all this possible.

Kathy Ritchie
P.O. Box 560
Preeceville SK S0A 3B0