Tiny little middle-of-nowhere Hoosier is hanging on for dear life. A handful of people still live here, give or take, with more on farms in the immediate area. And while the CO-OP and Post Office slash Coffee Shop are open, it’s hardly thriving. There are just as many empty or forgotten dwellings and buildings in town as used or lived in. Sadly, this very same story plays out across the province of Saskatchewan, time and again, and many towns like this within its borders are sadly near the bottom of their long downslide.
We only made a brief stop here. A good ten or fifteen minutes, then like the wind we were gone. This was a scouting mission of sorts, plain and simple, a quick look to see what there is to see, with plans to return at some point. In order to truly honour or respect a place, we feel one must spend time with it. And this place deserves the time. It’s pretty special. This post will only be a taste. Later, we’ll make it a meal.
Hoosier dates from the early 1910s and sprang to life with the coming of the railway – Grand Trunk Pacific, later folded into Canadian National Railways. The line existed for one reason, the transport of grain (Hoosier had some elevators). It was a typical prairie branch, sleepy, meandering, not so well maintained and at best a break-even affair. Still, the line managed to hang on till the 1980s.
At the peak many dozens lived in town. But that was long ago. Today, it’s not so many. If you and the kids show up there, well, the population triples. On our visit there was a home coming at the community centre. Lots of people about, the most the town has seen, no doubt, since the very early days.
There’s a few buildings left over from the past that are worth a look. One is the old Hoosier United Church. From 1916, it was used regularly into the 1960s, and then intermittently, often doubling as a community hall, into the 1990s. Mostly intact, the foundation is buckling, which is of great concern. Some beams have been put in to mitigate the problem, but that at best is a stop-gap measure. The issue might be terminal if something more is not done.
A bit newer, from 1930, is the old school. A fine brick structure, it’s seems oddly large given the always modest population of the area. Of course, the town and surrounding area was busier back then and people often had really big families in the old days. The building replaced an earlier school, a stunning structure also of brick, that burned down. The current building remained in use until the 1960s when it was closed. Today, it’s showing the ravages of time, and is rough shape. Some sections have or are collapsing. Sad to see it in such a state and I fully expect at some point it’ll have to come down for safety reasons.
Outside town is the Hoosier Golf and Country Club. Opened in the early 1960s, there’s a small “clubhouse” and nine holes. At one time, I guess it was a busy place, old photos proving that. We’re not sure when closed. No one we called was sure but the history book used as reference, published in the 1980s, mentions it still being open then. So we figure it lasted into the 1990s, if not perhaps a bit longer. It’s not in all that bad shape although the “links” are looking more like a farmer’s field than a course. Looking out across it however, one can picture happy people golfing away an afternoon. If we come back, we’re bringing some clubs. Lots of rough, so expect the wedges will come in handy.
That’s it for now, the accelerated tour’s over. There’s more to see in town and the buildings chronicled here need a more attention that we gave them. Unless the world comes to an end, I’m certain we’ll be back to give the place its proper dues.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: July, 2016.
Location: Hoosier, SK.
Article references (and thanks): Book: Prairie Sod to Golden Acres – History of Hoosier District, Canada’s Historic Places (HistoricPlaces.ca), Jason Sailer.
Please show the town respect if visiting.