New Osgoode Vanished But Not Forgotten

FTLComm - New Osgoode - June 24, 1998

Situated North of Crooked River and South of Zenon Park this little community got its start the second year of this province's life. The extensive history of the community is spelled out on a plague in the church yard seen below right and outlines the development and ultimate demise of the village, its school and its businesses. The presence of the plague, the guest book in the church and the beautiful cemetery proclaim the pride and spirit this place once had.

Villages spring up for a reason and often disappear almost spontaneously, social geographers and demographers have puzzled over this phenomena in North America for a long time and though for some places a pattern is apparent for others the birth or death of the place is a mystery. The village this writer grew up in was situated only four miles from another just like it, each on different rail lines and in different municipal jurisdictions yet both are larger today then they were fifty years ago. While communities like that around the Shand nursing station North East of Porcupine Plain never developed as a settlement yet still holds a summer fair each year for the people who identify with that spot of ground.

Most of Saskatchewan was built along its network of railroads. The nature of railway maintenance prescribed that a crew be stationed about every seven miles. This plan worked fine because land was parceled out in most of the province in quarter section farms and in many areas there was a farm on every single quarter section. Villages like Butler, Vandura, Inchkeith, Dumas, Duneside, Verwood, Bender, all vanished, there are actually hundreds of such former places in the province made obsolete by enlarging farms and changing economic conditions. But New Osgoode was not like these, it had developed as a community centre much as Pleasantdale yet little remains of this place.

When New Osgoode was in its hay day, about 1934, the World War veterans who settled the Shand area were dying from their gas wounds in the great war, while in the area some sixty miles South of Regina the folks were walking or riding away from their abandoned farms leaving them to the blowing dust storms and banks.
The showering sky above seemed exactly the right sort of situation to visit New Osgoode as the picture of the church above was taken in the rain at about 9:30PM. Below the breath taking beauty of the little stream that lies between the cemetery and the former town site gives a hint at why the place was established in the first place. It was surprising to discover that unlike so many other abandoned villages on the prairies this one still had a few old buildings left behind as seen with the one, below right.
In the scale of time New Osgoode's life was a short one but a testament to the settlers who made their way to it, cleared the land and made things grow.

The present is not of itself but is built upon the steps and set backs of those who came before and the accomplishments they had. Without the pavement in the the scene at right the sky could have looked just the same to the folks in New Osgoode as they appreciated the rain, braved the winters and cherished the friends and family who shared in their lives.

Timothy W. Shire