Village of Pelly


(unknown author and date)

We are proud to stress the fact that our village may trace its origin to old Ft. Pelly which was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1824. When it finally closed its doors in 1912 most of those associated with it, especially its well-known competitor and free-trader E.A.W.R. McKenzie, as well as Linklaters, McDonalds, McDermotts, Fields, Clarkes and others, moved to Pelly to carry on their business enterprises. 

Pelly's first council consisted of M. Campbell, E.A.W.R. McKenzie and C.F. Heming. The first school was opened in 1910 with Susan Allen and Mitchell Strahan as teachers. During the same year the Anglican Church was also established in Pelly and by 1915 there were no fewer than 125 adults in the congregation of St. Albans. The first part of the Pelly brick School, for many years a landmark along the new railway line, was built in 1912 with Hugh Wylie as principal and Dorothy Terry as teacher. In 1913 a new Fire Hall was built and a Pelly Agricultural society was formed with J. Robson, J.F. Machin, W.J. Leadbeater, J. Auld. J. Schaw, D. Olson, J. Sepach, and J.M. Madison as officers. During the same year the first Annual Stock and Produce Fair was held with the Slogan "Our First Fair, Everybody Exhibit Something, Give Us A Good Start.“ There were trotting matches, horse races and prizes for the best teams of horses and oxen.

The outbreak of the First World War curtailed further expansion until peace was restored in 1918, but on June 15, 1915 lands formerly held by the Doukhobors, a religious sect of Russian origin, were thrown open for homesteading as a result of friction between the sect and the Canadian government. Long lines of land-seekers formed during the night in time to make early application. With the restoration of peace more elevators were built and the village also bought a 25 horse-power semi-diesel with a 12 1/2 kilowatt 115 volt direct current generator at a price of $5,807.00 for the unit. Rates at that time were not cheap and ranged from a low of 20 cents per kilowatt to as high as 60 cents.

The Pelly Board of Trade issued an interesting booklet in 1919 entitled "Pelly, Saskatchewan, in the famous Swan River Valley" which extolled the benefits prospective settlers might find in the district. It also listed 30 business places in the village as well as ambitious plans for the future, but unfortunately the depression of the 1939's retarded growth and prosperity for 16 long years. It may be said that it also took many years to recover, but we do have at this time our Chamber of Commerce, good elementary and high schools, good housing for the elderly, the railway and a daily bus service, and there are five elevators, six churches, two stores, two cafes, a good hotel, two garages, a Recreation Centre for Senior Citizens plus Tourist Information. 

Besides a good hotel we also offer our visitors free parking, good water and a comfortable resting place at our village park with good facilities. A visit to our Fort Pelly-Livingstone Museum is also recommended, as well as a visit to historical spots such as Fort Pelly, Fort Livingstone, St. Andrew‘s, the Doukhobors Village of Gromovia where one prayer home is still standing and also to Thunderhill. It is credited, in Indian lore, with being the home of the Thunderbird whose flapping wings create the thunder and who was able to carry buffalo to its very peak as food for its young. 

One may admire the bluish haze which often covers Thunderhill, particularly when one remembers than it was an often noted Landmark for the weary traveller returning home on the old Hudson’s Bay Trail many years ago. The traveler's home may have been in any one of the more than twenty fur-trading posts along the Swan or Assiniboine River where canoe travel may still be duplicated as in the days of old. As well, one may enjoy beautiful surroundings at one of the many lakes or rivers within easy driving distance of Pelly which are teeming with Jackfish, Pickerel, Whitefish or Trout and, once the season opens in the fall, our district is also famous as a hunter's paradise for moose and deer.

(reproduced from a document stored in the Village of Pelly vault)

© Rick Kurtz 2011