We’ve been given an old photo, one from the late 1910s or perhaps the early 1920s, or thereabouts (does it really matter), showing a street scene Brock Saskatchewan. We return to the same spot where it was captured oh so long ago, to see what we can see and we’re blown away by just how much the landscape has changed. Save for one building tying things together we’d be hard pressed to know this is the same community.
What was formerly a bustling downtown, a place full of promise, excitement and hope, is today a pastoral street in a mostly forgotten village. A row of buildings, various businesses and retail outlets, is now just empty lots. The saying is a bit cliched, but what a difference a century makes.
Brock was founded in the early 1910s, around the same time the railway came through and is located roughly halfway between Kindersley and Rosetown, the two biggest communities in the general area. Like many towns founded at the time, it boomed, for a decade or two then settled into a slow state of decline, Today it has a population of a hundred and some people. In the past, there were many more here.
The location seen in both photos is Main and 1st St, looking east. The only thing that connects the two eras is that modest sized brick building seen in back on the right. While we could not find any information on its lineage, it was no doubt a bank, which required a very secure structure, or some other prominent business that wanted to make a statement. You can tell just by looking at it, the building belonged to some firm of importance. It appears taller in the old image which I guess would be optical illusion or something.
The large building seen on the left was the town’s hotel, I guess simply called the “Brock Hotel, which stood until recently. It’s now an empty lot. Photos from the mid to late 2000s show it in business. Ones from around 2010 show it closed. Ones from just after show it gone. Nothing is known about the other businesses seen in the old photo. History on this town is hard to come by.
If you know anything about Brock Saskatchewan, especially in regards to what’s seen in the old photo, please message us! We tried to find a local “old-timer”, but to no avail – we wandered about the streets hoping to bump into somebody, but no one was around. The place was like a ghost town although it’s clear some people live there.
Notice the street, the then unpaved dirt street, was much wider in the old days. A good number cars from the era can be seen (but not well enough to ID them) along with a lot of horse drawn vehicles.
If one where to turn right (in the old days) at the brick building, more of downtown would be seen, along with the train station at the end of the block. Today a few buildings are located on Main Street, most looking as though unused. The trains still pass as they did back then, just not as often. The track belongs to the CNR (built 1912/13-ish by predecessor Canadian Northern) who moves grain along the line and some oil related products.
Lining up this photo required nothing special in terms of technique. In fact it was one of the easier then and nows we’ve ever dome. Even so, we should remind everyone, we always line up in camera only using a special technique we’ve developed over the years. That’s it, no post production trickery is ever done when shooting a trademark BIGDoer.com then and now.
This “then” photo was sent to us by our friends at the Calgary Public Library. They’ve done this before. If you have something similar, a photo or scan of a photo (your copyright) showing a vintage street or town scene in Western Canada and want us to use it for fodder as a then and now, simply drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.
More then and now fun…
Alsask Saskatchewan then and now (not far away).
Calgary then and now – those 70s condos (funky themed).
Calgary then and now – #7 South Calgary run (transit themed).
Superman 1978 cemetery scenes – then and now (movie themed).
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: June, 2015.
Location: Brock, SK.
Article sources: Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, CNR archives.
Our shooting location was on public property.