|Town of Yellow Grass|
|Post office Founded||N/A|
|• Mayor||David Byrns|
|• MLA||Weyburn-Big Muddy, Dustin Duncan|
|• MP||Souris—Moose Mountain, Ed Komarnicki|
|• Total||2.68 km2 (1.03 sq mi)|
|• Land||2.68 km2 (1.03 sq mi)|
|• Water||0.0 km2 (0.0 sq mi)|
|• Density||157.4/km2 (408/sq mi)|
|Median age:||45.9 (42.8 male, 46.9 female)|
|Total private dwellings:
Median household income
Yellow Grass is a town in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. It is located 30 km northwest of Weyburn, at the junction of provincial highways 39 and 621. The town is located on the Canadian Pacific Railway Soo Line, at an elevation of 572 metres (1,877 feet) above sea level.
The town was founded as an unincorporated village and named after the yellow prairie grass that surrounds the area. The town was built shortly after the railway line was completed in 1893. The town site itself was surveyed in 1882. The town applied to the Northwest Territories government July 22, 1903 and became an incorporated village. On February 15, 1906 Yellow Grass was incorporated as a town.
The town itself has a primarily agricultural based economy. Like other Saskatchewan rural communities the town has seen a large portion of young residents leave to find work in other parts of Canada. Yellow Grass has grown little since the boom years in the early twentieth century; many resident families are descendants of the original pioneers.
Yellow Grass has a primary agrarian economy, with most of the residents working as farmers, or providing services to farmers. Primary crops grown around Yellow Grass are wheat, durum wheat, barley, lentils, peas, canola, and flax; some producers also raise beef cattle. There are also several game ranches that raise bison, elk and wild boar. A tertiary service industry provides general services for town residents and travellers along Highway 39. A substantial number of residents also work in factories, the health sector and retail sales in the nearby small city of Weyburn. Some also work in the oilfields.
Yellow Grass has gone through a couple of boom cycles in the early years of the town. The first boom started in 1899, when most of the original town infrastructure was founded. This boom attracted lots of new businesses to the town, as other towns were not yet as organized. This boom would level off at the start of World War I.
The second and by far the biggest boom started in the post war years and continued until the late 1920s as the trading area of the region. The building of Highway 39 and access to larger centres marked the beginning of decline of Yellow Grass as a commercial centre. The onset of the Great Depression and substantial crop failures would take its toll on the town.
The agricultural industry made a recovery in the post-World War II years with record setting crops, and the community recovered its municipal services. In the last few decades the economy has been relatively stagnant, with most of the town's youth leaving to find employment in larger communities. Pressures on farming due to weather and high fuel and equipment costs have been keeping the growth of agriculture in check.
Climate and geography
Yellow Grass is in a region of Canada known as the Great Plains, and situated well into the Canadian Prairies. The area is generally flat, but provides excellent land for large-scale farming. A few small, intermittent lakes populate the surrounding area. These lakes form as a result of the spring runoff when the snow melts, and vary in size depending on annual rainfall. In hot, dry years, the lakes can completely disappear, as no streams or rivers drain into the lakes.
The climate is usually very dry. Yellow Grass however receives enough precipitation in the warmer half of the year to be a humid continental climate. The winter usually results in bitterly cold temperatures that easily reach into the −20s to −30's degrees Celsius, while the summer produces hot dry temperatures. It is not uncommon to have temperatures into the high 30's and even the low 40's Celsius. The highest recorded temperature in Canadian history was set at Yellow Grass on July 5, 1937: 113 °F (45 °C). Yellow Grass shares this record with Midale. The mean temperature for July is 19 °C and January is −16 °C. Temperatures in Yellow Grass can reach 45 °C and -45 °C.
In the summer there is usually very little precipitation, aside from fast moving and violent prairie thunderstorms. The thunderstorms bring large hail and damaging winds. These storms have sometimes knocked over buildings, such as the Yellow Grass Hockey Rink in 1940. The hail from these thunderstorms can also damage crops. In the winter the area usually receives snow in violent and windy blizzards. Occasionally winter storms will bring with them huge snow falls, compounded by strong winds. Snow tends to collect in drifts that can reach the roofs of buildings.
|Climate data for Yellow Grass, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1911–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||13.3
|Average high °C (°F)||−8.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−14.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−19.8
|Record low °C (°F)||−45.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||21.8
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||0.4
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||21.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||7.3||6.3||6.0||6.5||10.3||12.2||10.0||8.4||7.4||6.1||5.8||6.6||92.9|
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||0.04||0.19||1.3||4.4||9.9||12.2||10.0||8.4||7.1||4.3||1.0||0.17||59.1|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||7.3||6.2||5.0||2.4||0.67||0.04||0.0||0.0||0.32||2.0||4.8||6.2||34.9|
|Source: Environment Canada|
Yellow Grass has a town council that has been in operation since 1906. The community has been electing members since August 5, 1903 for the position of "Overseer". The overseer position is similar to that of a mayor except that there is no town council, and the primary duty is to file the annual financial statements.
When the town was incorporated in 1906, the overseer position was abolished. The town held its first election to elect a mayor and six at large councillors. Elections were held every year up until the 1970s; now the town holds elections every two years. J.H. Allen became the first mayor in a hotly contested race. The first meeting of the council occurred on March 13, 1906.
Residents of the town have been actively involved in both the Federal and Provincial level of politics. Currently the town is in the provincial riding of Weyburn-Big Muddy and federally in the Souris—Moose Mountain. Election times have always stirred debate and rivalry among the local residents.
Federally, Yellow Grass has sent one home town resident to the Canadian House of Commons. John Morrison, a Yellow Grass area farmer, ran for the Progressive Party of Canada was first elected in 1921 and defeated in 1925.
A number of residents have run for provincial legislature as well, most recently including Barry Chase in Alberta. No one from Yellow Grass has successfully been elected to a provincial legislature.
Yellow Grass has had three contributions to the National Hockey League. Peter Schaefer, a famous Boston Bruins player . Nolan Schaefer, Peter's brother plays goal for the San Jose Sharks. Mike Rooney, who still resides in Yellow Grass, currently scouts for the Buffalo Sabres. Mike got his start in the NHL, scouting for the Nashville Predators.
Yellow Grass had an organized team "Wheat Kings" that played on the Soo Line Hockey League, that went defunct in 2000. The hockey rink in Yellow Grass is called Communiplex. The government of Canada donated $11,440 to upgrade the facility as a centennial project.
Curling is also a popular pastime. Yellow Grass had a team that represented Western Canada in the very first Brier. They finished in a three-way tie for third place. The town named the local curling rink The Barkwell Rink in honour of the skip O.S. Barkwell. The rink was demolished in 1946, and a new rink named the Memorial Rink was completed in 1948.
In the summertime baseball is the preferred sport, with the "Wheat Kings" teams going back to the early 1900s. All styles of organized baseball have been played including Fast Ball, Hard Ball and Slow Pitch.
The impact of war on Yellow Grass
During World War I and World War II the prairie provinces sent a significant portion of residents to fight for the Canadian Forces overseas. Yellow Grass was no exception, sending over 32% of the town population to fight in the Second World War.
Yellow Grass would send two men to fight in the Second Boer War; both returned from combat safely. During the First World War 42 men went overseas to fight, unfortunately 14 would perish in combat, marking the most significant loss for the town during wartime.
Yellow Grass sent a significant number of men to fight in the Second World War. There was a noticeable drain on the town as 167 of the 512 residents went overseas. Ten men from the town would pass away from combat. During the both world wars, most of the organized clubs and sports teams halted operations, and the remaining residents focused on farming. Many of the men who fought were descendants of the first Yellow Grass soldiers in the First World War.
In 1971 the Royal Canadian Legion dedicated a special section of the Yellow Grass Cemetery known as the Field of Vanquished to the Yellow Grass war dead.
A full list of the Yellow Grass soldiers can be found in Our Prairie Community: Pages 162 - 176.
From 1910 to the early 1930s Yellow Grass had a newspaper called the Yellow Grass Herald. The newspaper changed owners over the years, and names as well. It has also been titled the Yellow Grass Rag, and the Yellow Grass Journal. Very few copies of the newspapers have survived over the years.
From the 1930s to present the primary news source for Yellow Grass has been the Weyburn Review. The news paper has a resident correspondent in Yellow Grass to send in news to publish on a weekly basis. For special events a photographer will come down from Weyburn.
No radio and television media sources exist in the town.
Yellow Grass was a pioneer in bringing telephone services to southern Saskatchewan. On April 21, 1908 the town founded the Yellow Grass Rural Telephone Company Limited, that provided telephone service to the town and surrounding areas. The company provided service to parts of southern Saskatchewan until March 1957 when the Saskatchewan provincial government purchased the company.
In 1912 Yellow Grass town council passed a bylaw to appropriate $10,000 to build the first power plant in the town. The plant was an oil-burning 25 horsepower (19 kilowatt) direct current electrical generator. The town quickly outgrew the plant, and by 1920 a more economical coal-fired plant was built. In 1928 the plant was sold to the Montreal Engineering Company, and the town was hooked into the Soo Line power grid. The electric company went through a number of changes over the next couple decades before becoming part of the Saskatchewan Power Commission.
The Yellow Grass town cemetery was established on March 8, 1905. In 1971 The Royal Canadian Legion established a memorial plot and named it the Field of Vanquished, to honour the Yellow Grass citizens who perished in war. The original cemetery site is still in operation today.
The Southeast Regional Library - Yellow Grass Branch, opened on January 31, 1967 after years of lobbying efforts, including letters and petitions. The Library was in the old Yellow Grass Herald publishing building. Before the library could open the town started renovating the building in 1966. Today it is located in the old Stone school.
The town of Yellow Grass first started thinking about sanitation in the early 1900s when cesspools were designated for controlled removal of sewage. In 1916 Yellow Grass purchased galvanized sanitary pails to be used in a sewage collection service. Sewer lines were installed in 1958. The system has remained largely unchanged since then.
The Yellow Grass School District no. 539 was established on March 24, 1900. The first school was built later that year known as the "Old Old School". In late 1902 a larger school was constructed known as "The Stone School". The town continued to grow, and in March 1913 a larger school was constructed known as "The Brick School".
On June 1, 1952. The Yellow Grass School District no. 539 was annexed by Milestone School Unit No. 12 when the provincial government moved to centralize school administration. Yellow Grass High School was completed on March 6, 1964. The High School has since become the only school and was renamed Yellow Grass School. In the years following Yellow Grass seen the school district boundaries change many times. The school is currently part of the Southeast Cornerstone School Division #205.
The town set up a volunteer fire brigade in June 1906 and ordered two fire engines at a cost of $972.18 each. In 1913 a by-law was passed to pay firemen $1.00 per hour during a fire, and $0.50 per hour during practise. With a bonus of $3.00 to the team that arrived first at the fire. In 1960 the first fire station was built, along with the purchase of a new pumper truck. Standby equipment was purchased in 1977. Prior to 1960 the fire teams were in charge of finding storage for the fire equipment.
Yellow Grass long had a small police presence since the towns formation. When the North-West Mounted Police closed down their detachment, a holding cell was constructed in the power plant. Today there are no police officers stationed in the town. Police duties are handled by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers stationed in Milestone or Weyburn. Prisoners are taken to Weyburn.
In the case of medical emergencies patients are taken by ambulance, or by air ambulance in significant emergencies, to Weyburn.
The railroad was the lifeblood of the town in the early years. Canadian Pacific Railway used to provide passenger train service to the town until the early 1960s. Since then travel to and from town is done almost exclusively by automobile. Today Provincial Highway 39 travels through town making a quick and convenient drive to Weyburn or Moose Jaw. Twice daily passenger bus service is also provided by STC, the provincially owned bus line.
The railroad is still used to collect grain and other agriculture products. In recent decades the number of grain elevators in Yellow Grass has been in decline, following the same trend that is occurring all over the prairies.
The first plane landed in Yellow Grass on May 27, 1920, but no official airstrips have been established. The nearest municipal airport is in Weyburn. A few farmers in the area do have planes.
- Yellow Grass: Our Prairie Community. Published by Yellow Grass Heritage Committee, 1981, is the primary reference for this article. The book contains the entire history of the town, as well as histories and stories of town residents. An updated version was published in 2005 as a project for the province's Centennial
- ^ Demographics for Yellow Grass
- ^ In the beginning there was a vacuum
- ^ The Arid Years, the great depressions effect of Saskatchewan
- ^ Peter Schaefer NHL player page
- ^ History of the Chase family Our Prairie Community Pages 318 - 320
- ^ Nolan Schaefer profile
- ^ The Barkwell Rink
- ^ Highway Hockey League history mentions the defunct Soo Line League
- ^ Government of Canada Centennial Projects List
- ^ Yellow Grass School information
- ^ History of Yellow Grass Education Our Prairie Community Pages 223 - 264
- ^ Weather Network ask the experts
|Books about Yellow Grass |
|Yellow Grass: 50 Years in the wheat||King Community||1955|
|Yellow Grass: Our Prairie Community||Yellow Grass Heritage Society||1981|