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St. Boswells

Only the sidewalks speak

BatemanAbandoned road

When Ethel (Baslar) Holderbein was asked to write her story in 1988 about her feelings and recollections of St. Boswells for a commemorative book, the total abandonment of the former townsite touched her soul with loneliness and sadness.

"And I gaze at the emptiness around me; it seems as if the sidewalks have something to say. They have heard it all and they know it well. Everything that had happened here is concealed in these eternal sidewalks. Although they are only inanimate objects, they are all that is left of the past. That is all that is left to remind of what once stood here. They are lonely and forgotten since everything is gone, and they seem to know that I care."

At one time, many people did care about St. Boswells and the sidewalks once filled with the sounds and sights of prairie living. As with most pioneer southwestern Saskatchewan settlements, St. Boswells' humble beginnings were filled with great promise and hope.

The area was first settled by homesteaders shortly after the turn of the 20th century. St. Boswells' name came from the former home of Alex Dow, St. Boswells in Roxburghshire, Scotland. It was the name chosen for the community's first post office. Dow set up a general store in the new community, on the north side of Main Street to the east. His store became one of the largest buildings in town. It was also a popular meeting place, where many people loved to sit and talk about the latest gossip or about a much anticipated local event, such as a community dance.

St. Boswells was born a railroad town in 1918, a Canadian National Railway point along the line from Moose Jaw to Neidpath. It's location was about 10 kilometres northwest of Bateman.

As with most Saskatchewan prairie towns, the centre of the community was the junction of Main Street and Railway Avenue. St. Boswells swelled to include First and Second Avenues, and First Street East and First Street West. Main Street was only one block in length and was the heart of the pioneer community's business section. West of the railway tracks, were five grain elevators, St. Boswells' early symbol of prosperity. On the east side of the tracks, facing Railway Avenue and looking down Main Street, was the train station, which also provided a telegraph system for locals and visitors.

On the east side of Railway Avenue, from south to north, was the curling and skating rink, the lumberyard, town hall, a machinery and car dealership, a blacksmith's shop, Tommy Bellamy's service station, George Sherman's livery stable, a well drilling equipment business and a bunkhouse.