Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Sunnynook District

Train snowed in near Hanna, 1948 Train snowed in near Hanna, 1948

 

Shortly after Dick Ringdahl arrived at his homestead in 1910, there was a settler on practically every half section of land. They consisted of lawyers, teachers, doctors, dentists and ministers who came with the idea of proving up on their homesteads at a profitable gain - only a few farmers were scattered among them.

The first post office and store was Flowerdale, which was owned and operated by A.R. Stewart, mail being brought from Bassano by coach and store supplies also from Bassano came by team and wagon one trip a week.

Toward the end of May a public meeting was called to solicit members for a United Grain Growers Co. with Harry Lennox as president. Shortly after this another meeting was called to organize a school district which was named Laurier No. 2321. A small school house was built as there were seven children of school age and in a short time a school was operating with Dr. W.J. Lanergan as teacher in 1910. School board members were Ed. Oliver, E. Boggess and A.T. Hyde.

This same year a municipality was organized named Flowerdale M.D. 244 with six Councilors who were John Cope, George Stevens, Mr. McKinney, Austin Mercer (reeve), A.C. Campbell, Joe Knutson, Bill Thompson being secretary-treasure. Meetings were held in Laurier school and operated until the Berry Creek area was formed.

Church services and Sunday School were ably taken care of by the late Rev. Cruikshank who visited the area bi-monthly, rain or shine.

The first wheat from this district was marketed in Youngstown in the spring of 1913. Later the grain was hauled to Richdale and Stanmore until the "Peavine" of the C.N.R. was built. The Sunnynook elevators were ready for business in 1918, later bridges were being built across the Berry Creek.

It was a big problem to find water for human consumption as well as for animals. Many of the shallow wells contained such bitter water it was impossible to use it. Often water was hauled six miles in barrels and occasionally one would find a supply of drinking water to which everyone in the district would come. In the fall of 1910 the Provincial Government sent a drilling machine to drill one well in each township. The majority of these were most satisfactory, the average depth being 240 feet to the water line.

Every small community organized a baseball team, and these games became the best form of entertainment every Sunday afternoon. Some of the early baseball boosters were A.C. Campbell, John Jones, Lou Hyler and George Hanson.

For a time prior to the dry years of the thirties Sunnynook enjoyed a rapid growth as new settlers came in and more land was broken. The community enjoyed such facilities as two or three stores, a railway station, bank, post office, etc. In the dry years of the thirties hundreds of families moved out of the area, and the hamlet declined considerably, as the once broken prairie was allowed to regrass where today some of the original settlers, if not their descendants are engaged mainly in cattle ranching over a vast area, which once knew the ring of the homesteader's hammer, as he built his small shack, the barb wire fence, new roads, bridges, etc. that signified the typical opening up of the west.

Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald