The century old community of Shaunavon is located in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan. Home to perhaps eighteen hundred people, give or take, it has a quaint downtown full of lots of nice old buildings, some of which will be the focus of this then and now report. Our then photo, which is from a postcard scan sent to us by a reader of this blog, is set sometimes in the 1940s. The now shot is from us, of course, and shows the same scene today.
Let’s take a look the things to see what’s changed and what hasn’t.
In the old image, starting from the right and working left, there is first Kilburn’s Groecteria. This building, according to town records dates from 1914, the year after the community was founded, and at times has been occupied a furniture store, billiard hall and later by a number of grocery outlets. Today, it’s the home to the Shaunavon Standard newspaper. Note the old cigarette ad on the building’s side in the one photo.
Next door there used to be an Imperial service station, now gone and then an empty lot, now built upon. The latter is currently home to Hardin’s Groceteria. The term groceteria is an older one and means a self serve grocery. In the 1940s that was somewhat of a novelty and in many stores the clerks would gather all your goods for you, instead of you doing it yourself (as is the norm today). For the most part that word has fallen from use.
Next up is a nice building. Constructed of brick in 1927, it served initially as a dance hall, but a few years later was converted to a theatre, a function it continues to serve to this day. It’s called the Plaza.
Moving on is a low building that today is a hair salon. At least I THINK it’s the same structure seen in the 1940s image, only reclad, but I’m really not 100% certain. It does have similar window placement, though. Next up, in the old photo, is a two story wood structure which has since been replaced with a modern building housing a bank. Structures beyond it will not be discussed here as they are too far away to be seen clearly.
I’m going to take a stab at identifying the cars shown in the old photo. By no means am I an expert and the blurry nature of the original image when blown up and that we only see the car’s back ends, further complicates the process. If one of our readers is savvy at such things and spots a mistake, and I am sure they’ll be one or two, by all means you are welcome to correct us.
Starting from the right again, I believe we have a late 1920s Ford soft top pickup. You’d see a lot of these on the road back then especially in agricultural regions like this. Next up is a tough one – we know it’s a late 1920s or perhaps early 1930s era auto, but what make it is we’re not completely sure. The closest match we’ve found, among the huge number of makes and models from that era, all of which by the way seem share similar styling features, is a Chevrolet. That makes senses, that brand was back then, as it is today, quite popular.
Looking left is a mid to late 1930s era pickup. Outside that I can’t ID it properly. Beside it and also across the street are what looks to be two early 1940s-ish Chrysler products (maybe). Again, there is not much to work with here.
The car seen in our now photo is a early to mid-2000s era Pontiac. Will we look at it with fondness in the future as we do now with all those “oldies but goodies” that are seen in the old photo?
The vintage image is a scan of an old postcard submitted by one of our readers, Sarah of Shaunavon. Thanks Sarah! She mentions it’s from the 1940s and that seems about right based on the cars seen. If you have an old postcard, one in the public domain (and most are), showing a street scene like this, by all means send it our way and we’ll do our best to document how the location shown appears today. Contact us for instructions.
All our “now” photos used in these series are not cropped or shopped to help them line up. What you see is, outside some minor keystone adjustments and scaling added in post, is pretty much as it came from the camera. We line up our shots using a grid system we’ve developed, which typically gives us good results.
We visited Shaunavon in the spring of 2014 while on a grain elevator and ghost town tour of that corner of the province. The area is amazing, lot of abandoned stuff, and we’d love to return. For other reports from this trip search using the term Saskatchewan.
Thanks to the town office who provided some building history data for this article.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2014.
Location: Shaunavon, SK.