Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator
|Rural Municipality||Old Post|
|• Governing body||Wood Mountain Village Council|
|• Mayor||Edward McIvor|
|• Clerk||Sherry Mielke|
|• MP||David L. Anderson|
|• MLA||Yogi Huyghebaert|
|• Total||0.61 km2 (0.24 sq mi)|
|• Density||32.6/km2 (84/sq mi)|
|Postal code||S0H 4L0|
Highway 18 |
|Railways||Canadian Pacific Railway (Defunct)|
|Website||Village of Wood Mountain|
Wood Mountain is a village in Old Post Rural Municipality 43, Saskatchewan, Canada. The town's name is derived from the Red River Métis words "Montagne de Bois" (meaning mountain of wood in French), due to the abundance of poplar trees in the otherwise barren region. Highway 18 and Highway 358 intersect south of the community.
Wood Mountain is known for its annual Stampede that has been held every year for more than 120 years. It is also known for its Sprinkle Fresh Spring Water taken from the Flowing Springs Ranch.
History taken from: Wood Mountain, SK: Our History
Wood Mountain's first European settlers came in the 1870s, when about 35 Métis families moved here after the failure of the Red River Rebellion. Boundary Commission survey teams came through shortly after to mark the 49th parallel. They built the cabins that in 1874 became the first Wood Mountain North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) post. Chasing out the whiskey traders didn't take long, and the post was closed the next year.
Today Wood Mountain is a peaceful area, but during the days of Sitting Bull and James Walsh this was one of the most politically volatile spots in North America. The famous Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull and as many as 5000 of his Sioux (Lakota) followers took refuge here from the U.S. Army after the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. General George Custer and his 7th Cavalry were virtually wiped out when they foolishly attacked the Sioux, and the Canadian government was concerned that Sitting Bull might attack Canadians.
NWMP Superintendent James Walsh, commanding officer of Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, was sent to lay down the law to the Sioux. Walsh earned Sitting Bull's respect when he rode into the intimidating camp, with only a handful of constables. Sitting Bull agreed to respect Canadian laws and within months of that agreement, a new Wood Mountain detachment was constructed for 22 NWMP officers. Walsh had a home for himself built nearby and spent most of his time in the Wood Mountain region until he was transferred to Fort Qu'Appelle in 1880. The Sioux kept their promise to abide by Canadian law, but the Canadian government never granted them permanent status. By 1879 the Sioux were beginning to starve because of fires set in the U.S. that kept the buffalo south of the border. The U.S. government offered amnesty and food to the Sioux, so many of them left while only a few hundred remained in Canada with Sitting Bull. Jean-Louis Légaré, a trader from the Willow Bunch area, spent a great deal of effort and supplies to feed the starving Sioux.
After Legare's effort was exhausted, Sitting Bull realized he had been defeated and returned to the U.S. with a few more of his people. Not all of the Sioux left though, and their descendants still live in the area to this day. After returning to the States, Sitting Bull appeared in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Although Sitting Bull was guaranteed by the U.S. government that he would not be harmed, in 1890 he was arrested on a trumped-up charge. His followers tried to rescue him and shooting ensued. Sitting Bull was wounded twice before he was fatally clubbed by soldiers and police. A monument to Sitting Bull has been placed at the top of a hill in Wood Mountain Regional Park.
Saskatchewan may not be well known for its hills, but it does have them. In fact the Wood Mountain Hills 20 km south of the village, known locally as the "Bench", are the second highest area in Western Canada east of the Rockies (First are the Cypress Hills). The Badlands, which are south-east of Wood Mountain and near the town of Rockglen, were a hideout for many famous horse and cattle thieves and rum-runners, before the NWMP started patrolling and securing the Canada / U.S.A. border along the 49th parallel. Comedian Tom Green toured the Badlands around Big Beaver for a TV show in 2007.
As more people moved onto the prairies at the turn of the 20th century, farming and ranching changed the landscape. Where there once were buffalo, cattle became the dominant grazing animal, and cereal grains were grown where once short grass prairie was all the eye could see. Farming and ranching play a big role in the lives of the residents of the Prairies, and across the world as well because Saskatchewan agriculture feeds a large portion of the world.
The town was moved 8 km north from the site of the two police posts, as the branch line railway spread through the province. Several grain elevators were built to store the crops being grown; Federal, Reliance (Pioneer), and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. There is only one elevator left in Wood Mountain today; the elevator is not in operation. The brown Pioneer elevator, which was built by the Saskatchewan Pool in 1928, is one of Saskatchewan's oldest wooden elevators standing today. The Village of Wood Mountain hopes to eventually purchase the elevator, and turn the elevator into a working museum. The operation of the elevator is preserved on film by the National Film Board's "Grain Elevator" (1981) and again on "Death of a Skyline".
On July 31, 1997, the last orange Pioneer elevator in town was struck twice by lightning. Fire fighting crews could not get their equipment up the narrow opening to the top of the elevator, so the fire spread. The elevator was scheduled to close permanently on the day it burned down. Fire fighting crews were called in from neighboring towns by the Wood Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They helped save a house that had burning debris dropping onto it. The fire burned for hours, and the grain smoldered for days which gave the town an aroma of burnt bread for a while. Strangely, on the same day as the fire in Wood Mountain a brand new elevator in Brooks, Alberta met the same fiery fate.
More recently, Wood Mountain has hosted several successful Country and Rock music events, continued its annual Stampede, and have made improvements to the Regional and Provincial Historic Parks. The Wood Mountain Farmer's Market started by Judy Mergel, has been held in August since 2004.
In July 2005, the Village celebrated its 75th year. A monument to local organizations was erected beside the Hotel building, and the MLA and Mayor were on hand to present local citizens with awards. Among them was Robert Shields, Wood Mountain's centenarian (seen in the old photo to the left). Bob spent the last 6 years of his life in Rockglen, Saskatchewan, turning 105 in October 2009, and died not long after.
In 2006, Wood Mountain had a population of 20 living in 13 dwellings, a 50.0% decrease from 2001. The village had a land area of 0.61 km2 (0.24 sq mi) and a population density of 32.6/km2 (84/sq mi).
Economy and tourism
Historically, Wood Mountain's economy has relied mainly on agriculture as a main industry. The community still has strong roots to farming and ranching, but with its location and rich history, tourism has become a main industry. The community has a variety of businesses, recreation sites, and many accommodations such as bed and breakfasts, a cafe restaurant, a pool, a library, a community hall, and a wide variety of churches, museums, campgrounds, and regional parks.
Business and services
Below is a list of local business and organizations within the Wood Mountain village and area.
- Alliance church
- Roman Catholic Church
- Romanian Orthodox Church
- Klein Electronics
- Straza Trucking
- Whitemud kaolin mining (closed as of late 2010)
- Hog Barn
- Mergel Ranch
- Flowing Springs Ranch
- Sprinkle Fresh Spring Water
- Val, the book gal!! (www.usborneonline.ca/ValFafard)
- Wood Mountain Community Pool
- Wood Mountain Regional Park
- Wood Mountain Rodeo & Ranching Museum
- Wood Mountain Post Historic Park
- Wood Mountain Stampede, oldest continuous annual Rodeo in Canada. It has run since 1890.
- Wood Mountain Farmers Market
- Redneck Rumble
- Grasslands National Park
- Crossing Resort
- Glentworth Bar and Hotel
- Limerick Bar and Hotel
- St. Victor's Petroglyphs Provincial Historic Park
- Thomson Lake Regional Park
- Village of Wood Mountain
- National Archives, Archivia Net. "Post Offices and Postmasters".
- Government of Saskatchewan, MRD Home. "Municipal Directory System". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008.
- Canadian Textiles Institute. (2005). "CTI Determine your provincial constituency".
- Commissioner of Canada Elections, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (2005). "Elections Canada On-line".
- Flowing Springs Ranch
- Wood Mountain, SK: Our History
- National Film Board - Death of A Skyline
- Statistics Canada. "Canada 2006 Census: Wood Mountain - Community Profile". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Wood Mountain Business Directory
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