Once a year C&C and a group of close and very dear friends get together for a “ghost town tour”. We pick an area and explore. It’s hectic and is more about the fun and comradery than anything else, even if the cameras still get a good work out. Often we’ll use these as exploratory trips, making notes of places of interest in hopes what we can return at a later date to get up close and personal with zero time constraints.
Such is the case here which has us exploring, very briefly, the near forgotten community of Loverna Saskatchewan. We came, we liked, we really liked, we made notes, gathered intel and expect to be back come spring or summer. This report will be brief. The next one will be more detailed however and we’ll give it the full BIGDoer treatment. Unless we die or the world ends, we’ll be back.
The little town is a shadow of its former self…a large number of empty streets are witness to that. It was founded just over a century ago with the coming of the railway (as we always say). The place held great promise and quickly grew to have a population of close to five hundred,. There was a vibrant downtown, near the tracks, and a good number of residential side streets. The flame burned bright. It was going to be fun and everyone was going to be in the money.
However, the boom was short lived and by the start of the great depression Loverna was on the decline. Lovernites (?) left in droves, businesses closed, the rail line was pulled up. By the 1960s it was in serious trouble, by the 1980s near empty. Today a handful of people, said to be some where around five, call it home sweet home. We show up and the population explodes! If the local rag was still on the scene, the “Loverna Borderline Budget”, as it was called, our arrival would make the headlines. For sure.
Among the occasional lived in houses are empty lots, some the site of homes and others down in the core area, those of businesses, and a few disused buildings scattered here and there between them all. Still standing, there’s an old Legion Hall, the Curling Rink, a couple nice churches, and others. Lampposts light up near empty streets. There’s nothing but silence. Someones erected signs showing what used to be located at each lot. That took some work – it’s actually a fair sized town plot.
Seen about the community are a number of old vehicles (almost a guarantee when exploring ghost towns). A post World War Two Ford Pickup is found. Nice! Nearby a vintage Winnebago Brave Motorhome, (1970s era), in retirement and I’d venture to guess never run again, soaks up the sun. While it didn’t start the motorhome revolution, it was a big contributor to its early popularity and ongoing success. It was made in huge numbers and we still see some on the road today. Winnebago even makes a modern version of it. Retro styled vehicles are quite the rage right now.
Within sight is a 1970s era ex-Calgary Transit “Fishbowl” Bus. It’s still in CTS colours. This should get a good looking at when we come back. Big fan of old transit buses.
Loverna is only about half a click from the Alberta border. Standing on the roof of your car (not recommended) would allow you to see into that “other” province.
A branch line once ran through Loverna. Built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway it dates back to 1913-ish. As came the the railway so came the town – recall Loverna was founded almost concurrent with it. The track was pulled up in the 1980s. So dies the railway, so dies the town. This stretch of rust once ran west deep into Alberta. From 1920-ish on, it was owned by Canadian National Railways. It was a grain branch, lightly built and engineered, often sparse on traffic and for most of its history a money loser. There were once several grain elevators in town which the line served.
Our few minutes here are over and we have to run. Off to the next town. Just a quick little look this time which we hoped you enjoyed. When we return we’ll take more time, as long as is needed and will make it a big production. We know you like having it “all” and we like bringing it to you. Stay tuned.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: July, 2016.
Location: Loverna, SK.
Article references (and thanks): Canadian National Railway archives, Geoffrey Lester, ClassicWinnebagos.com, University of Saskatchewan, Jason Sailer.
Please show the town your full respect if you visit.