Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Goose Lake Line

Merchants Bank Merchants Bank


The Goose Lake Line was the name given the Canadian Northern Railway line connecting Calgary with Saskatoon. The survey was done in 1911 and most of the steel was laid by the end of 1912.

The line would run through an area which had not been serviced by rail and would bring transportation for settlers with supplies and equipment to an area which was being rapidly settled by homesteaders. Previously the land had been used by cattlemen who had grazed their herds of great tracts of open range.

Suitable sites for community development were decided on by the railway company. The land buyers made arrangements for land purchases from the homesteaders for town sites. Canadian Northern Railway surveyors surveyed the sites into lots and streets.

The townsite of Hanna was purchased from James and Ed Parker, George Burkell and Conrad Lawlor. The lots were sold at public auction in Saskatoon on August 7, 1912.

When the rumor of the proposed townsite became widespread, there were inquiries from all over Canada and the United States, and people from the surrounding areas began to move in before the townsite was set up. Shacks and tents went up on the squatters rites on the southwest corner of the townsite. From the time the first settler arrived with his family on June 6, 1912 until Christmas of that year, almost 800 people had converged to form the nucleus of the new town.

Before the arrival of the railway, the only methods of travel were by ox or horse team or on horseback. George Burkell was believed to be the only person in the area with an automobile.

Until 1912, the closest railway service to Hanna was by CPR from Calgary to Castor and then cross country for fifty miles by stage. Prior to that, the trip by stage was 80 miles from Stettler. For years before the arrival of the railway, supplies for the homesteaders were freighted in by team and wagon from Stettler or Castor.

Originally stage service into Hanna was twice weekly, but on May 15, 1913, it was increased to three times a week until the final run of the stage on April 29th, 1914. Rail passenger service to Calgary and Saskatoon was not introduced until that time. Steel was laid into Hanna by November 1912, but ballasting was not completed so service was originally restricted to freight.

Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald