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Where the echo of distant wild winds and raging fires still remain

LovernaThe old post office

As with most Saskatchewan pioneer communities, Loverna was born a railway town. In fact, the community, which lies a stone's throw away from the Alberta border in southwestern Saskatchewan, was named after Loverna McFarland, daughter of a local railway official.

When the railway reached that remote area of the province in 1913, settlers had already begun to lay out a townsite the year before on the homestead of Norman Moe. Although the landscape was futile for wheat farming, with rolling rock-filled hills, there was abundant opportunities for homesteading and ranching.

With trains soon arriving daily, Loverna was to become an important stopping point for early 20th century pioneers seeking prosperity in the Canadian west.

By the early 1920s, the town was already a bustling community, eventually reaching a population of 500 citizens. Loverna's business area included a hotel, two Chinese restaurants, two doctors, four lumberyards, two barber shops, three implement businesses, four garages, two banks, a feed mill, two grain elevators, four grain companies, a hardware store, two poolrooms, three grocery stores, two real estate offices, three liver stables, a newspaper, and even a small five-bed hospital.

"For me, it was an ideal place to grow up because it was a small town," said Sonja Cooper, who moved to Loverna with her family from Alberta in 1947 when she was an infant. That same year, her father purchased the Monarch Garage, which still stands today. "If you were going to raise kids, a small town or a farm is an ideal place."

Soon after the first wave of settlers, Loverna quickly developed a longstanding and compassionate sense of community, where pioneer folks worked together - and helped each other in times of crisis - to build and cement a lasting bond. Sports Day - held on July 1 - was an important part of that process almost from the very start. Baseball, horse racing , golfing and rodeo were popular past-times, with a rink first built in 1915. As Sports Day grew in popularity over the years, so too did the participation of neighboring communities with baseball teams from Major, Marengo, Hoosier, Sounding Creek and Compeer making the long trek down dusty rural roads to play the best from Loverna, and to enjoy an after-game barbecue supper , followed by a hell-raising dance. Beer flowed freely, and good times lasted well into the early morning hours.

Loverna's remoteness eventually caught up with its early vitality. Following the droughts and the Depression years, citizens began to leave for larger and more accessible locales in the province, and in neighboring Alberta. By the early 1960s, with the town already in decline, a devastating fire destroyed Loverna's prime social locale - the three-story Vernon Hotel.