Shaunavon, Saskatchewan

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Grain elevators by the railway track
Grain elevators by the railway track
Nickname(s): Bone Creek Basin, Boomtown,
Motto: Oasis of the Prairies
Shaunavon is located in Saskatchewan
Coordinates: 49°39′04″N 108°24′43″W / 49.651°N 108.412°W / 49.651; -108.412
Country Canada
Province Saskatchewan
Region Saskatchewan
Census division 4
Rural Municipality Grassy Creek
Post office established 1913
Incorporated (Village) 1913
Incorporated (Town) 1914
 • Mayor Sharon J. Dickie
 • Administrator Jay Meyer
 • Governing body Shaunavon Town Council
 • MP David L. Anderson
 • MLA Wayne Elhard
 • Total 5.10 km2 (1.97 sq mi)
Elevation 916 m (3,005 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 1,756
 • Density 344.2/km2 (891/sq mi)
Time zone CST
Postal code S0N 2M0
Area code(s) 306
Highways Redcoat Trail
Highway 37
Highway 722
Industries Agriculture

The town of Shaunavon is located in southwest Saskatchewan at the junction of Highways 37 and 13. It is 110 kilometres from Swift Current, 163 kilometres from the Alberta border and 74 kilometres from the Montana border. Shaunavon was established in 1913 along the Canadian Pacific Railway line.

The town has several nicknames including Bone Creek Basin, Boomtown, and Oasis of the Prairies. The latter name is derived from the park located in the centre of town.[6] The Shaunavon Formation, a stratigraphical unit of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin is named for the town.


Welcome sign

In 1913, settlers came to the area that would later be known as Shaunavon. Under a deal by the government at the time, land could be purchased throughout the province for as little as $10 a quarter section after building a homestead on the quarter. Within eight hours, 370 lots totaling $210,000 were purchased![6] While this brought settlers to the province, Shaunavon had an attraction that drew them to this region: water.

Water was essential for settlers and the water in the area was considered to be the purest and most plentiful. Within the course of one year, Shaunavon went from being a town of empty lots to a "Booming town" with a population of over 700 people. As a result, the town gained the nickname “Boomtown.” Shaunavon became the first community in Canada to grow from a village to a town in under one year.[6]

In 1914, the Canadian Pacific Railway brought the railroad through the community for the purpose of having access to the water supply for their locomotives. It was another positive sign for the community.

The royal visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom (and Canada) in 1939 brought fame to the community when the water that was used for the royal visit was supplied by the community. The town gained the title “The water capital of Canada.”[6]

The Skating Rink[edit]

Another important milestone in the community in the 1960s was the building of the public arena. With very little to do in the winter months, hockey was always a very important part of the community and an indoor facility was greatly needed. The centre included facilities for skating with artificial ice placed over the dirt ground. Later the extension for the curling rink was added to the existing facility and cement was added to the skating rink.

Rising insurance costs prompted the formation of Project 2002 – a plan to replace the rink with a more modern facility over the foundation of the old arena. With the new arena conforming to new building codes the price of insurance for the facility would be more affordable. Fundraisers such as the Canadian national women's hockey team visiting the Shaunavon Badgers and Hockey Day in Canada helped to raise funds for the new arena. Originally slated at $2 million, the price for the arena has grown to $6 million.[citation needed]

Great Western Railway[edit]

A trio of GWRS M420s idling outside of the Shaunavon shops.

The removal of the Crow Rate, which covered the cost of shipping grain, left farmers having to pay to ship their grains to world markets. It became more economical for grain producers to ship to large terminals along the main line. This brought about the closure and demolition of many wooden grain elevators along the line to Shaunavon. In the late 1990s, the CPR announced its intentions to sell the track leading to the southwest to WestCan Rail, a railway salvage operation. Action was swift. Grain Producers formed a coalition to lobby WestCan Rail. A deal was made that formed the Great Western Railway to run the line as a shortline with the eventual plans to purchase the railway back from WestCan Rail. Meanwhile producers purchased the remaining standing wooden grain elevators in Shaunavon, Admiral, Eastend, Ponteix and Neville.

Today the Great Western Railway is owned by the coalition and continues to operate the shortline to southwest Saskatchewan. The Great Western Railway headquarters are located in Shaunavon.

Name origin[edit]

The name Shaunavon is believed to be a combination of the names of Lord Shaughnessy and William Cornelius Van Horne, two of the four founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway, although there is inconclusive evidence that suggests otherwise. The most damaging of this evidence is from Mr. F.G. Horsey, the CPR townsite representative in 1913, who said "he was personally in the Calgary office when a wire came through from Lord Shaughnessy declining the honour of having the town named after him, but suggesting that they name it Shaunavon after an area about his home in the old country . . .".[7] However, Shaughnessy was of Irish descent, but was born to dirt poor parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thus, the existence of any kind of an old country estate is highly unlikely, and no such place shows up in Irish place name references. Since CP's files are silent on the subject, the derivation of the town name Shaunavon is likely to remain a mystery.[8]


Climate data for Shaunavon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
Average high °C (°F) −5.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −11
Average low °C (°F) −16.2
Record low °C (°F) −37.5
Precipitation mm (inches) 18.8
Source: Environment Canada[9]


Arts and culture[edit]

The Grand Coteau Heritage Centre is a museum and chapter library with a local art gallery and heritage exhibits on display. It was first formed in August 1931 by members of the Shaunavon Canadian Club. Derivation of the name of Shaunavon's Museum "Grand Coteau" comes from the title le grand coteau or grand slope, of the Missouri as applied by the explorer La Verendrye. [12]

The Plaza Theatre on main street runs both movies and theatrical shows.

The Darkhorse Theatre performs two major productions a year, and is well known for producing quality shows. The Darkhorse Theatre uses top of the line production equipment to compliment the set design, wardrobe, and makeup for the major productions. The spring production consists of three pub night performances and the fall production offers six nights of dinner theatre.[6]


The Pine Cree Regional Park is located approximately 30 km from Shaunavon. There are 29 campsites located along the creek. The park features amenities such as barbecues, playgrounds, ball diamonds, and bridges. The Pine Cree Regional Park is truly a rustic get-a-way, as the entire park is non-electrical.

Showarama occurs in the spring showcasing merchants in and around the community, I love Shaunavon Day and the Parade of Lights take place each winter, and Boomtown Days and the Pro-Rodeo occur during the summer. The Shaunavon Rodeo Grounds serve as the backdrop for the annual Shaunavon Pro Rodeo. The Shaunavon Rodeo Association has hosted events, both amateur and professional, for over 40 years. The Shaunavon Pro Rodeo is a CPRA sanctioned event and features many professional competitors that follow the rodeo circuit east from the Calgary Stampede. The Rodeo Grounds are located about 6 km west of Shaunavon on Highway #13.[6]

Regional Attractions[edit]

Great Sandhills Museum in Sceptre
  • The Great Sandhills, is a sand dune rising 50 feet (15 m) above the ground and covering 1,900 square kilometers.[15]
  • Robsart Art Works, opens July 1 to August 28, 2010 from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment and features Saskatchewan artists featuring photographers of old buildings and towns throughout Saskatchewan.[16]


Shaunavon baseball team in the 1930s

Shaunavon has many seasonal and year-round venues that help to boost tourism and entertain residents. It also has numerous organizations offering sport, culture, recreational and social opportunities including hockey, soccer, curling, figure skating, karate, fastball and baseball, volleyball, basketball, performing arts, and a variety of dance disciplines.

The service groups include: Shaunavon Kinsmen & Kinettes, Shaunavon Legion & Legion Auxiliary, Shaunavon Elks & Royal Purple, Shawnees, Knights of Columbus, Hometown Club, Senior Citizens and a number of church organizations.

Recreational facilities include: a bowling alley, walking trails, Recreation Complex, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, swimming pool, regional library, playgrounds, fitness gym, golf club, rinks, movie theatre, ball park, skating and curling.[6]

During the summer months, the skating rink serves as a community centre for various events and in the fall and winter is covered with ice again for both skating and curling.

In the summer months an outdoor recreation swimming pool is available and a 9-hole golf course is also open. Camping is available at the Shawnee Campground adjacent to Memorial Park in the heart of the town.

Shaunavon is home to the Shaunavon Badgers of the Southwest Saskatchewan Hockey League.

Shaunavon hosted CBC's Fifth Annual Hockey Day in Canada on February 21, 2004.



Saskatchewan Highways 13 and 37 connect to Shaunavon.

Shaunavon is served by the Shaunavon Airport. Shaunavon's airport has a regulation asphalt, lighted runway, 3,000 feet (910 m) in length. The airport has LWIS weather system as well as a global positioning system to assist pilots to their destinations.[6]

A Courtesy Car is operated by volunteers Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.


  • Shaunavon High School (grades 8 - 12)
  • Shaunavon Public School (grades K - 7)
  • Christ the King School (grades K - 7)
  • Cypress Hills College



  • Southwest Boomtown Bargain Finder
  • Shaunavon Standard


  • CJSN 1490 Radio - Shaunavon has a 1000 Watt station that simucasts CKSW radio, with local inserts and a half hour of local programming daily.

Famous residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". Statistics Canada. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  2. ^ National Archives, Archivia Net, Post Offices and Postmasters 
  3. ^ Government of Saskatchewan, MRD Home. "Municipal Directory System". Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  4. ^ Canadian Textiles Institute. (2005), CTI Determine your provincial constituency 
  5. ^ Commissioner of Canada Elections, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (2005), Elections Canada On-line 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h
  7. ^ E.T. Russell, ed. (1975). What's In a Name?. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books. ISBN 0-919306-39-X. 
  8. ^ Barry, Bill (1998) People Places: The Dictionary of Saskatchewan Place Names, p. 327, Regina, Sask: People Places Publishing Ltd., ISBN 1-894022-19-X
  9. ^ Environment Canada - Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000—Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, accessed 22 December 2010
  10. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  11. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Yanko, Dave. "The Badlands". Virtual Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  14. ^ Cypress Hills Vineyard & Winery
  15. ^ Great Sandhills
  16. ^ Robsart Art Works
  17. ^ T.rex Discovery Centre
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Gone but not forgotten - Tremere". Home arrow Obituaries - Medicine Hat arrow TREMERE. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°39′04″N 108°24′43″W / 49.651°N 108.412°W / 49.651; -108.412