Founded just over a century ago, the tiny community of Robsart Saskatchewan is today a shadow of its former self, home to many, many more ghosts than people. It’s one of the more picturesque such towns ever visited by BIGDoer.com (that’s a big statement) and our group has seen its fair share over the years.
Sadly, our time was rather limited and so our visit here was brief. We could easily spend an entire day, if not two, exploring, photographing and soaking it all up. The place is that good and there is so much to see and document. We hope to return again. We want more than a slice.
Robsart is located in the southwest corner of the province. This area is and was always lightly populated. It was the coming of the railway in 1914, that the town hit stride. At least things were off to a good start, but that would end soon enough.
The town stared to decline with the coming of great depression of the 1930s. The exodus took some time, it was not immediate but rather slow and steady, a trickle of people gone, more and more with each passing year. By the 1980s, Robsart had seen better times. By the 2000s, it was near dead. It lost village status some dozen years ago. At the peak, in the 1920s, the town had a population of three hundred and fifty. Today some fifteen or so hardy souls call it home sweet home.
The railway line past the town still exists, almost a rarity today in Saskatchewan given how many such lines have been abandoned over the years. The track belongs to the Great Western Railway, who mostly hauls grain. The original owner of the track was the CPR who sold it off in the late 1990s. There used to be several grain elevators here, the last torn down over a dozen years ago.
Wandering about Robsart, we’re immediately taken aback. It just feels so lonely, spooky, lost, forgotten. I could go on. Peering into some buildings, one can see lots of stuff left behind. It’s almost as though people just up and left one day, taking little with them.
The community is several blocks square, with a small commercial district (I mean former commercial district) roughly at the centre. The railways line passes the south end of town. There are many old houses, most of them rather small and humble in size (no McMansions here), a couple lived in, most not.
In the downtown “core” are a number of buildings that were clearly stores or businesses. The ghost sign of one can still be seen. It was once a Beaver Lumber outlet, which was a chain that operated across the country for many, many decades.
The Robsart community hall, I understand, is used every now and then. A 1867-1967 Canada Centennial sign still adorns the entryway.
A larger building at the north end of town is the old Robsart Hospital, built in the 1910s and closed a couple decades later. I understand it was used for other purposes after. Today, it sits in a horse field.
There were lots of old cars and trucks scattered about town, which of course we find particularly interesting. There is a link below where you can see some of them, and others we found in the area. One group, a good sized one, is located between two structures, one of which is almost as large as the hospital mentioned earlier. I understand this building and the other, not seen and off frame, were moved in here from somewhere else (where though?) in the 80s.
A nearby fenced in field has an old 4H Club sign. This youth group was and still is active across the prairies and promotes life skills among its members.
The day of our visit we had wonderful blue skies. I love when nature cooperates. The town was one of many stops on our spring 2014 grain elevators and ghosts tour of southwest Saskatchewan. Some stops, like this, were sort of scouting missions, to size up the potential of a place, with plans to return to do it better if it was good. That was the case here. Indeed, I need to documents it better, both in photos and words. This report is sort of a warm up, an introduction to the town, and nothing more. The next visit, we’ll really get to know Robsart and maybe we’ll even chat with some of its residents and if they are game, share a beer or two.
We didn’t have much time here, but liked every second of it. If you visit Robsart Saskacthewan, be sure to enjoy it too. Take lots of photos.
Read more about the cars and trucks seen in town…
Saskatchewan: old vehicles and equipment part 3
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2014.
Location: Robsart, SK.
Article sources: Book: Our Side of The Hills (Robsart and area history guide).
Much of Robsart is private property and you should be respectful of that.