November 30, 2017
I majored in history at the University of Winnipeg and I have always enjoyed reading local histories especially the ones in which the authors poured over dusty documents to glean the beginnings of a town or community.
In the 1980s, it seemed there was a fair bit of government money earmarked for grants to individuals and committees that wanted to embark on gathering information to put in a history book focusing on how their town or municipality developed from pioneer days to more recent years.
Have you ever heard of Hodgeville, Saskatchewan. No? Well, now you have. Read on:
November 5, 1982
by Tanya Lester
In 1910, one Charles Lewis set up a post office on his farm located four miles northeast of the present town of Hodgeville. Two years later, Mr. Lewis decided to move the post office closer to the road which is now #19 highway to more conveniently receive the mail which was hauled from Morse.
From these beginnings, the town of Hodgeville eventually sprang up. But Mr. lewis was not quick enough to the draw or the town might have been named after him.
“The village itself, probably would have, or should have, been named either Lewistown, Louisville or Louisbourg, after the first Post-Master, Charles Lewis, “wrote Maurice Jago, author of the book entitled “Hodgeville: Prairie, Pioneers, Progress.
“However, at the time a certain Ernie Hodges, who homesteaded alongside Ross’ hay meadow, to the North West of Kelstern, was working at the Post Office in Morse,” Mr. Jago continued. “In much the same way as early settlers were allowed to preempt a neighbouring block of land, so it was that when names were allocated to communities, the first person to put in a claim had the new settlement named after him.”
Mr. Jago, who is a history teacher at Hodgeville High School, spent about a year of researching and writing the town’s history. The book was published in 1980 after Mr. Jago, with the help of some of his high school students and Donny Gross, had combed through numerous records made available to him by the RM of Lawtonia #135 and the Village of Hodgeville. He also dug through documents at the Saskatchewan Archives in Saskatoon.
He said the students helped go through the minutes from past council meetings, typed up the family histories, and proof read.
The actual village site began as one farm, Mr. Jago said. It was homesteaded by a George Fehrenbach. Then a store went up. Later, a grain elevator was built by the Lake of the Woods elevator company.
According to Mr. Jago, the village sprang up where it did because the land was low and undesireable for farming. For this reason, the village has been plagued by spring flooding over the years. As recently as 1975, the town’s people were called out of the New Year’s Eve dance to lay sandbags at the dyke which holds back the creek’s swollen waters.
But, while doing his research, Mr. Jago was especially interested in the petition taken to incorporate the village on June 21, 1921. He noted that the petition, listed the signatures of persons representing almost every occupation needed in a village. There was a lawyer, elevator agent, Imperial Oil dealer, and many others to make a total of 28.
According to the regulations, a settlement had to have 50 people and produce a petition singed by at least 15 of the adult residents in order to become a village.
Mr. Jago said other events of note were the establishment of a Hodgeville school in 1917 and the day the first train came through the village in January 1920.
“The arrival of the steel from Bateman was the main topic of conversation in 1920,” Mr. Jago wrote. “It had been uppermost in many people’s minds for a long time, as it made everything just that bit more accessible.”
“Having the Canadian National Railway finally extend their branchline from Gravelbourg to Hodgeville, had been a dream that the Council, and others, had worked very hard to realize,” Mr. Jago continued. “In particular, Mr. Grainger (the first secretary of RM of Lawtonia), had travelled many miles and attended many meetings in pursuit of the rail link for Hodgeville. Its benefits to the whole community was tremendous, as for many, it meant the end of long, ardous t rips hauling grain to either Vanguard or Morse.”
“Hodgeville: Prairie, Pioneers, Progress” is one of the many Saskatchewan town histories which been compiled in recent years. This book is well written and contains many interesting document reproductions as well as photographs. It includes information on the community, profiles on some of the town’s people and families, and lists of the many people who have contributed…..