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Businesses, Organizations
Service Groups

Business - Part Two

Excerpts from Timber Trails Book.

Crystal's Bakery

D & D Video Rentals, Arcade, Laundromat, Car Wash

D&D video rentals, 2004.
D&D video rentals, 2004.

Earthlight Computer Systems

Huxted Store

Tom Huxted and customer.
Tom Huxted and customer.

Johnson Meats.

Kangaroo Cottage.

Kangaroo Cottage.
Kangaroo Cottage.

Krienke's T-Shirt Shop

In February 1970, Eddie and Maisie Krienke purchased this business at 203-1st Avenue North from Russell and Alice Coates. At this time it became Krienke's Barber Shop and Beauty Salon where Eddie was the barber and the salon was leased to various hairdressers. Some of these hairdressers were Lois Nichols, Val Forbes, Liz Layer and Sherry Buckingham.

Eddie was also a full-time employee for Saskatchewan Forest Products at this time. In 1974 the beauty salon was converted to the Saskatchewan Liquor Vendor and a full-time employee was hired. Shaye Shakotko, Leah Scriven, Joanne Swanson, Marg Olenchuk and Pat Spreker were full-time employees during the next 25 years. These employees operated the retail store while Eddie did the business end of the shop while working for Timberlands, Weyerhaeuser. The shop was renamed Krienke's T-Shirt shop in 1976 when they purchased a press iron for T-Shirts and hats to create unique gifts and souvenir items. At this time the barber chair was relocated to the basement where Eddie continues to be a barber for his family and Len Zen exclusively. In 1984 video rentals were added for a few years. Gradually the shop expanded to custom embroidery and silk screening as well as a retail inventory of shirts, jackets, fleece and decorations. In 2000, Maisie added promotional products of every description and she continues to operate the custom clothing and promotions shop as well as the Saskatchewan Liquor Vendor. Ann Offer is the full-time employee and Grace Forbes is part-time staff.

Krienke's T-Shirt Shop.
Krienke's T-Shirt Shop.

Maple Lane Confectionery

Maple Lane Confectionery was built and opened in 1981 by Carolyn and Orville Leach. We came here from Spiritwood with a son Sheldon, and two daughters Dani and Raeleen. While we operated the business we had two more daughters Rochelle, Trina and Terrence, a second son.

The confectionery offered groceries, meats, gifts, movie rentals and lottery tickets. We did very well for ten years but by then, there was in decline in the business. We sold to Judy and Marlow Pister in 1991 and they added the carwash and Laundromat. They still have it today. We have no regrets, it was a pleasure, and we love living and working in Big River. We now own and operate a private care home and, and specialize in elder care.

Orville Leach and Caroline Wilson in front of store, 1983.
Orville Leach and Caroline Wilson in front of store, 1983.

McKnight's Bakery

George and Francis McKnight had the bakery in the now John Jezowski house from 1927-1929. They sold most of the equipment to Phillippe Beauleau but Mrs McKnight still baked for her customers, which included the people at the airbase at Ladder Lake, also the people who had cottages along Ladder Lake. They used to deliver the baking in a little wagon their father made for them. She also baked for her customers in town, for Sports day and made buns for wiener roasts and many other activities that were put on.

Mother made her yearly Christmas cake for James Forbes Sr., Mr Fred Buckley, Mr Fred Coates and Mr Ernie Overs until their passing. As we all left to find work, Bill was left to deliver until Mother got sick in the later part of 1941. She quit baking in 1941 and passed away May of 1942.

Tokens from McKnight's Bakery.
Tokens from McKnight's Bakery.

Meyer's Upholstery

I, Joan Meyers, started doing upholstery work from our home in Ladder Valley in 1985. Some of the jobs needed strong hands, so I soon had my husband Hugh helping me.

In 1993, it got very busy and we needed a larger place, so we worked in Big River at 107 1st Avenue North. This building had been an upholstery shop and second-hand store owned and operated by Richard and Betty Meyers in 1990.

We have done work for people in Big River, Buffalo Narrows, Holbein, Spiritwood, and Kindersley area, and have enjoyed the business.

In 1995, we moved our upholstery Business back to our home in the Ladder Valley area and have continued to work there since.

Nor - Sask Builders Supplies Ltd., 1978, 1999

Submitted by Merv Weiss

In 1978, Saskatchewan Forest Products Corp. (a Crown corporation) decided to sell its retail division in Big River known as Saskatchewan Timber Board. George Ritchie of Ritchie Construction Ltd. was first to consider the possibilities of purchasing this lumberyard located on First Street North. Eventually, Brian Blampin (co-owner with George in BR Concrete And Excavations Ltd.) and Mery Weiss joined with George to purchase the property, buildings and inventory and began their own retail business on July 1, 1978. Mery and George had previously taught together at Big River High School. The last Sask Forest Products employees working at the Timber Board were Hubert Michel and Richard Burt.

Merv Weiss became the full-time managing partner in the new business. The first few years were operated strictly with the labours of the partners and their wives. On occasion, an employee was borrowed from Ritchie Construction or BR Concrete for a specific job. Business slowly grew and as the debt load became more manageable, the first employee to be hired was Charlie Holmer. The next person hired was Eugene Michel in 1985, and Gene was still with Nor - Sask Builders Supplies when the business was sold fourteen years later.

Early on the partners realized the business would require better facilities. Because the property on First Street North was zoned as residential, they began to look for suitable relocation properties. About 1981, Nor - Sask purchased a triangular piece of property along Highway 55 on the south side of town for a new lumberyard. However, this property was eventually subdivided and sold to Timberland Motel and to Shell Canada. In 1983, Nor -Sask purchased a lot on the corner of Highway 55 and Main Street from the Shukin family. This property had been the site for many years of the well - known Young's Garage. This lot backed onto the old hockey - curling arena, another site that would eventually be available for development because a new arena was being built on First Street North.

NorSask Builders Supplies Ltd., 1990's
NorSask Builders Supplies Ltd., 1990's

In 1983, Nor - Sask Builders Supplies Ltd. redeemed the shares of George Ritchie and Brian Blampin, and Merv and Patti Weiss became the sole owners. In 1985, Nor-Sask constructed a new 6000 square foot hardware store on the Shukin property, the best retail location in town. The store affiliated with Allied Hardware until 1987 when it changed its main supplier to Pro Hardware. Up until this time the hardware business had been very fragmented around town. Nor - Sask always sold hardware of course but space was very limited at the old Timber Board site. Waite's grocery had a hardware department, as did OP Godin's Red and White Grocery store (owned then by the Lomsnes family). The Yurach family also operated a hardware business out of its old grocery store. Al's Jewellery and Furniture also sold hardware - related inventory. But now Big River had a large new store devoted strictly to hardware, with an emphasis on builders' hardware and home improvements.

The store shelves quickly filled up as the business catered to the expectations of the community. Patti took over full-time management of this business with the capable help of Bertha Smith and Eugene Michel. Bertha helped unload the first trailer load of inventory and stayed at the store until she retired in December 1997. Other employees over the years included Liane Dunn-Martel, Leanne Kennedy, and summer students Ellie Vaadeland and Erin and Melanie Weiss.

Staff at Christmas 1998.
Staff at Christmas 1998.

Back Row:
Robin Smith, Marc Belair, Sigurd Olson.

Front Row:
Eugene Michel, Leanne Kennedy, Liane Dunn - Martel,
Patti and Mery Weiss.

Meanwhile, the lumber and building-material side of the business was also growing. The support of Ritchie Construction was instrumental through these years and George used our supplies throughout the north country, giving me a chance to get into many new communities, Beauval, Ile a la Crosse, Buffalo Narrows, La Loche, Nemieben Lake, Flin Flon, Stony Rapids, Fond du Lac, Uranium City, Fort MacMurray. The fly - in trips into the far north were the best. But the Big River area was also growing rapidly through the eighties with many new homes, new acreage developments and new lake-lot developments. The town built a new arena and a new nursing home. Other new retail and service businesses developed. Weyerhaeuser purchased the sawmill-planer mill from Saskatchewan Forest Products Corporation. The local forestry industry grew rapidly in the eighties. The Debden agricultural community became a very loyal customer base, as did the Big River First Nation's community in the nineties. Debden and Morin Lake became another important business focus.

In 1991, Nor - Sask purchased from the town the old hockey-curling arena site, which was adjacent to its hardware store. Nor - Sask annexed another 6200 square foot building onto the existing store and moved its lumber and building materials business onto the same site in February of 1992. Two cold-storage warehouses were also constructed at the same time, providing the Big River area with a new and modern home-improvement centre. Employees on this side of the business over the years included Hank Delisle, Stanley Amundsen, Tien Martel, Marc Belair, Robin Smith and summer help in the form of Kelly Schneider, Celine Gould, Holly Bradley, Howard Forbes, Darryl Amundsen, Lyle Meyers. Sigurd Olson of Canwood installed our floor covering sales for many years. Sigurd and I made several trips into the far north replacing floor coverings in RCMP residences. Around 1996, Nor - Sask sold the old Saskatchewan Timber Board Site to the Town of Big River, which developed the property into residential lots.

In 1997, Prince Albert Co-Op purchased Len's Gas Bar in Big River. In the fall of 1998, discussions with Prince Albert Co-Op's General Manager, Wayne Pearson led to the sale of the Nor - Sask property, buildings and inventory. Merv and Patti handed over the keys on March 15, 1999, a few months short of twenty-one years in business. It had been a great ride in a very supportive community. I clearly remember leaving the store that afternoon around 4:00 p.m. and slowly walking up the hill to our home. While I was experiencing some regrets and some emotions that we were leaving a part of our lives behind, I was convinced the time was right for us to do something different. Nor - Sask Builders Supplies and Big River will always remain defining influences on our lives.

OP Godin & Company Ltd.

O.P. Godins. July 1980.
O.P. Godins. July 1980.

Sask Forest Products


Second-Hand Shop

Betty and Dick Meyers.
Betty and Dick Meyers in front of the Big River Second Hand Store.

Shirt's Shop

The Bargain Shop

Big River United Church Thrift Shop

Submitted by Janice Wood

In 1960, Reverend Dave Bould and his wife Gerry opened a small thrift store in the basement of the United Church Manse, exchanging recycled clothing for native handwork and braided rugs. The idea caught on very well and the little shop began handling more and more supplies.

In 1963, the Bould's asked the United Church Women's Group (UCW) to manage the Thrift Shop. When the new church was built in 1968, the Thrift Shop was allotted an unpacking room and a large area for bins and shelves for a new shop in its basement.

The Thrift Shop was open each Tuesday and Saturday afternoon and was run solely by volunteers. Donations of clothing and supplies came from the local people and several UCW groups across Saskatchewan. The UCW's at Westminster Church in Regina and Bethel Church in Saskatoon took a special interest in the Big River project. Bethel supplied a spring and fall shipment of used clothing every year and continues to do so. The Kindersley Ladies Group sent boxes for years and in particular, a Mrs Estelle Paul made it a goal to knit dozens of beautiful mittens each year for the shop. Beebe's trucking helped with many deliveries and hauling of the heavy boxes. Hubert Michel designed and donated a cart to transport the boxes from room to room in the basement. For many years, Mary Michel co-coordinated the work schedule handled the pick-up and returning of keys, set up the float and collected the cash box after every shift. The entire project relied on the donation of time and labour from some very dedicated people.

Barb Bradley and Clara Kennedy.
Barb Bradley and Clara Kennedy.

Sharon Bradley, Barb Bradley, Ethel Kennedy, Barb Warriner, Agnes Scriven.
Sharon Bradley, Barb Bradley, Ethel Kennedy,
Barb Warriner, Agnes Scriven.

Members of the Thrift Shop Committee in 1985 were:


Mary Michel and Barb Bradley


Grace Colby, Dot Hiltz, Rosella Teer, Barbara Warriner, Kathy Panter,
Mrs. Olenchuk, Dorothy McTaggert, Kathleen Teer, Evelyn Teer,
Agnes Scriven, Janice Wood, Sharon Bradley, Ethel Kennedy,
Clara Kennedy, Bertha Crashley, Betty Braidek and Linda Van Omme.

With few exceptions, this same group of volunteers was active on this committee for many years. It is interesting to note that several of the women have daughters and granddaughters serving the community in the same capacity. Many other community members have donated time managing the store and unpacking during fall and spring changeovers.

The Committee members for 2003 were:


Janice Wood (packing and sorting)

Kathy Panter (workers and changeover)

Treasurer: Betty Gendron (phoning and schedules)


Barb Dunn, Michelle Bechtel, Katherine Topping, Wendy Meyers, Amanda Crashley, Cathy Rowan, Maegen Panter, Alicia Panter, Becky Panter, Marie Wood.

The profits from the Thrift Shop were used in support of church-related activities and out-reach programs. In 2002, the profits were spent on a major clean up and painting of the basement and Thrift Shop.

Waite's Store

Waite's Store.
Waite's Store.

Waite's Store.
Waite's Light Plant and warehouse with J.K. Johnson's Mill in the upper left.

Yurach's Store

Fred Yurach bought the store from Mr Mathews in 1928. Mrs Yurach looked after it while Anne was in school. She didn't write English so she wrote in Ukrainian. Anne and Bill worked together managing the store. Anne worked until she married and moved away. Bill worked alongside his family and took odd jobs when the store wasn't busy.

Bill joined the service in 1942. Eva came home in 1943 to help with the store while Bill was away. Bill came home from the services in 1945 and took over the store. The general store was a place you could buy anything from a currycomb to stockings to food to nails and barbed wire.

Yurach's General Store.
Yurach's General Store.

They added on to the old store and then later built what is now the I.G.A. in 1965. In 1965, George began managing the I.G.A. and was joined by Neil a couple of years later. Marjorie ran the till for many years in both the general store and the I.G.A. until she retired. The old store was torn down in 1999. Both George and Neil continue to operate the I.G.A. along with their wives and George's oldest daughter Shelley.

Yurach's IGA, 2004.
Yurach's IGA, 2004.


Big River Nursery

Excerpts from Timber Trails

with additions from May Fabish.

Reforestation soon became necessary because of the logging industries and the drastic 1919 fire. The fire destroyed everything except the muskeg, which consisted of thirty-nine per cent of the land. During the 1920s "Forestry" was the responsibility of the Dominion Government. This was handed over to the provinces in 1930 and those working for the Department became Provincial rather than Federal employees.

In 1924, a small tree nursery was established southwest of the town.

Mr Cristy was in charge of the forestry at that time. When Mr Cristy moved away, Mr Potter became the manager. Mr Potter began reforestation when he planted three seedbeds for spruce and jack pine. Mr Reome and Mr L. Smith began work at the site during this time.

Cecil Potter is credited for starting one of the first Tree Nurseries in the province. Pinecones were collected from the existing trees in the area and spread to dry in the hayloft of the Forestry barn. After being extracted from the cones, the seeds were collected, planted, and allowed to grow to the seedling stage. At this time, they would be sent all over the province.

In the seedbeds, white spruce, jackpine, Scotch pine, lodge - pole pine, Siberian larch, and Manchurian elm were grown.

Greenhouse at the Big River Nursery, 1981.
Greenhouse at the Big River Nursery, 1981.

In 1947, Jim Cowie became the manager and in 1952, Mr Bengston became foreman of the nursery. He took over the management when Jim Cowie passed away in 1956.

There were approximately four hundred thousand seedlings at that time. The trees were transplanted and kept until they became four years old before they were shipped out.

Art Anderson was appointed foreman in 1956. At this time the number of trees being shipped out annually was seven hundred thousand. Thirty-two acres were under cultivation, eight acres in seedlings and twenty-four acres in transplanted trees.

When the Forestry first started, planting boards, were used. In 1957, a two-seater-transplanting machine was brought in. Later another two-seater machine was bought as a result of the expansion of the forestry.

Mr Bengston retired in 1973, at which time fifty acres of land were still in use. John McCutcheon took over, having Art Anderson doing the supervising. Tony Lueken was the main operator and he looked after the fertilization of the fields and was tractor operator number one.

In 1975, they purchased a twelve-seater transplanting machine that hitches to the back of a tractor. Thirty-eight men and women were employed at the Nursery. Their work includes planting seeds and later transplanting the seedlings. They also do the task of weeding all the land where trees are planted. Each year stock is taken, which means counting every tree. This job takes time and patience on the part of the workers.

Taking trees to the field.
Taking trees to the field.

The Big River Forest Nursery at that time owned approximately one hundred and eighty acres of land. Thirty-five acres in tree production and another forty-five are in summer fallow or green crops. An additional forty acres have been cleared for future expansion. The remaining land is unsuitable for tree production and remains in its natural state.

Production at the Nursery consists exclusively of coniferous species, namely white spruce and jackpine, with limited amounts of blue spruce, Scotch pine and lodge - pole pine.

The Big River Nursery, in conjunction with the Prince Albert Nursery, provided reforestation stock to replenish cutover and burned - over forestlands and understocked areas where natural regeneration is inadequate for potential timber production throughout Saskatchewan.

The decision was made that a new building was required to meet the demands of the reforestation industry. The sod - turning took place on February 4, 1986. The construction was completed in April 1987 with the grand opening on May 8, 1989.

The new building had a huge cold storage area, which provided space to keep the trees until needed for reforestation. The four 50 foot long conveyor belts provided improved efficiency for sorting and pruning the trees. A modern lunchroom, bathroom, and shower facilities were also included in the new structure.

During this period, the nursery consisted of 250 acres of which 170 acres were planted with spruce and pine. The remaining 80 acres was summer fallow.

A commercial - sized greenhouse was used for about four years where seedlings were planted and cared for. A new transplanter was purchased in 1993 to speed up the planting.

During the spring and fall season process about 100 additional casual employees were hired for the lifting process.

John McCutcheon managed the Nursery operations from 1973-1997. Tony Lueken supervised the tractor operators, Hugh Watson, Walter Beebe and Audrey Donald. Art Anderson and Bob Normandeau supervised the workers in the fields-Josephine Warriner, Ethel Sandry, Bernice Kilbreath, Florence Rekve, May Fabish, Darcy Neufeldt, Florence Archibald, Pat Price, Liz Johnson, Linda Anderson and Rose Grimard.

Nursery Workers.
Nursery Workers.

Shirley Sharp was the yard supervisor and secretary. Ann Offet replaced Shirley Sharp and Agnes Hyllestad maintained the yard.

John Sandry did the maintenance and upon his retirement, Monty Thompson was hired.

During 1996, government officials met and decided that the type of seedlings (bare-root) produced at the Big River Nursery was not suitable for reforestation purposes. There was a need for the "plug - type " of seedlings. As a final result, the Big River Nursery was officially closed on March 31, 1997.

Presently, 2004, the site is used primarily for a Fire Base. Pacific Regeneration Technology from Prince Albert utilizes the cold storage for trees waiting to be used for reforestation. Some of the space is also used for storage of extra fire equipment.

Clearwater Greenhouses Inc.

Clearwater Greenhouses grows tree seedlings for reforestation. The business began in 1989 when the government decided to privatize the production of seedlings. Patrice Porter, William Buckingham and Garry McLean saw an opportunity. They procured a contract from the government and built two greenhouses on SW 2-55-7 W3rd.

There were changes over the years: seedling contracts within the private sector, Pat Porter left the corporation in 1995, and construction on an almost ongoing basis. The greenhouse employs several local people at seeding and packing times. Throughout the growing season, about four people can manage it.

Today, Clearwater Greenhouses has 22 greenhouses and a cold storage facility.

Jackow Greenhouses

WE Greenhouses


Big River Hotel Cafe, Ed & Jean Williams

Big River Hotel Cafe, Laurel Holmes

Big River Hotel Cafe, Roland & Anne Barrie

Big River Hotel Cafe, Vicki Bogner

Big River Motor Hotel & Dining

Bill's Cabin Grill & Drive Inn

Chicken Koop

The Chicken Koop was owned and operated by Wendy Proulx (Buckingham). The Chicken Koop opened in 1982, or 1983 and they served chicken and fast food for a year or two. The whole family helped out in the kitchen and serving food. The Chicken Koop was located where Panter Agencies is now.

In 1982, Sherry Cowan (nee Buckingham), had the hair salon in the back (where Sandra's Beauty Salon is now) during the same time frame.

Chicken Koop, Meiklejohn

Chicken Koop, Mel & Laurel Ayerst

D & E Burger Bar

Lakeview Cafe, Dick & Phyll Gilbert

May's Grocery & Rex Cafe

Rex Cafe-2004.
Rex Cafe, 2004.

Third and Main
Thelma and Louise's Lounge

Submitted by Wanda Bogner

The corner of "Third and Main" has been a major centre of business in Big River since the early '30s. Louis Godin originally owned and operated a bakeshop there but he soon expanded to include a grocery and dry goods department.

Louis's son, Pete, assumed management from his father and added an ice cream parlour and drug store. It was known as "O.P.Godin Store".

In 1945, the Pete Godin family moved to Quebec and sold the business to a group of local men. Nels Edson, Verner Johnson, and Paul St. Arnaud were three of them.

This group later sold to Eikel and Lomsnes who sold again to Joe Freidman. When Joe left for the east to retire he sold the business to Anna, Reider and their son, Leonard Lomsnes. They continued to operate the store as the Red and White Store until it was destroyed by fire in October of 1981. Leonard and his wife Marlene and family narrowly escaped the fire in the night.

The corner of Third and Main was left vacant for a few years until Art Buckingham operated a car sales lot there for a time.

In the fall of 1988, Garnet and Susan Pederson purchased the property from Len Lomsnes. They built a small, twenty - eight seat licensed restaurant, "Susan's Place".

On April Fools Day 1989 I bought the restaurant from them. Susan's Place became "Third and Main". I jumped into my new role as a restauranteur with both feet. I didn't have the foggiest idea about what I was doing but I was determined to do my best and to change the concept of "Dining Out" in Big River.

Garnie and Susan were convinced that there was not enough morning business to open before 10:00 a.m. I was hoping they were wrong and decided to open at 7:00 a.m. My daughters, Jade and Amber, would come with me in the morning and help wait tables, do dishes and make pizzas and subs for delivery to the Canwood Shell Station. Each day, by 6:30 a.m. there would be people waiting outside for us to open. Soon we were opening at 6:00 a.m. Now we to open at 5:30 a.m. for our "early bird" crowd.

Business surpassed my expectations and with a lot of help from veteran staff, Sharon Bradley and Liane Dunn, the first year flew by!

At the end of two years, my biggest frustration was turning people away because we were full.

In 1991, I built on a thirty - five seat dining room. My husband, Paul, also began to work at the restaurant. We tried this for several years. Things didn't work out for us and we separated in 1999.

With the addition of the dining room, our Christmas catering increased a lot. We also cater to functions away from the restaurant. We make many trips to our Weyerhaeuser mill with luncheons. We have catered to as many as four hundred seventy - five people and are certainly looking forward to the opening of our new hall.

The years flew by with a few ups and downs as in any business.

Wanda and Ted.

Wanda and Ted.

In 1999, I was making plans to add a lounge onto the restaurant. I was also planning a white - water rafting trip with my friend, Clarice Hunter. I phoned my daughter, Jade, to tell her we had Clarice's convertible packed and we were hitting the highway! She said, "Oh God, Mom, you two will be just like Thelma and Louise!" Thus, the new Lounge became "Thelma and Louise's".

Third and Main, 2004.
Third and Main, 2004.

I hope the lounge has been a welcome addition to our town. April 1, 2005, will mark sixteen years for me on the corner of Third and Main. I love what I do and I enjoy the people I see each day. They are the reason I've been able to continue for this long.

I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to satisfy my customers. I am proud of the many recipes I have created. Some have been stolen, but I know they are mine.

The many compliments keep me going and the complaints keep me on my toes. Those whom I can never seem to please make me thankful that my life is not as perfect as theirs is; it must be boring to be so perfect.

Over the years many employees have come and gone. I thank each one of them for the contribution they have made in helping me.

My husband, Ted, is a big help to me today. His "Honey - to - do" list has something new added each day and he has experienced "dishpan - hands" too.

I feel privileged to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce and will continue to do my part to promote our town and its services. Big River is a great place to live!

Tourism, Recreation and Entertainment

Big River and District Recreation Center

The Rink that had serviced the community during the 1950s and 1960s was feeling it's age by the time the mid - 1970s came along. This rink was situated along the highway where the present - day lumberyard now sits. After public meetings in the fall of 1977, a committee was formed to build a new facility. After several meetings, the decision was made to construct a steel building, with a skating rink and three sheets of curling ice. The building was to be constructed across from the intermediate schools on the mill property, recently acquired by the town.

To raise the funds for the new rink, bricks were sold, local service organizations were brought onside and several major fundraisers were initiated. Many novel ideas were used to make money for the new rink such as the Wagon Wheel Saloon, 0 and S line paddling down Cowan Lake, the feats of riding a bike from Winnipeg and walking from Prince Albert. Government grants were also received from the Canada Community Development, Culture and Recreation, Culture and Youth and the Town of Big River.

The shell of the building arrived in Big River in July 1979. Numerous hours of donated work and equipment were utilized with Tony Cooper hired as the overseer. By January 1981 the rink was operational and in October of that year, the building was officially opened. In 1985 the artificial ice plants were installed.

Many individuals signed notes, others loaned funds interest - free. In April of 1992, all bank and personnel loans were paid off. Some of the people involved in the building committee over the years were Richard Burt, Eugene Swanson, George Yurach, Bud Swanson, Dwight Olson, Barb Philips, Grace Colby, Ron Heard, Mery Weiss, George Ritchie, Gordon Gunderson, Marcel Lamothe, Cecil O'Neil, Rob Warriner, Wayne Dunn, Carmen Olson, Arlene Gilbert, Gary Donald and Maisie Krienke.

Big River Museum

The Big River Museum was opened in 1980. It was a long time coming and very much needed. A museum committee was formed and the members were: Clarence Becker, Ruth Gibson, Grace Gould, Jalmer Johnson, Freda Felt, Flo and Cliff Kemp, Martha Waite, Vergie Greipl and Nels Edson. Jalmer Johnson donated the land. The seniors and committee members built the building.

Soon the items began to flow in from the people of Big River and area. Items of all sizes can be found. Display cabinets were built for smaller items. There are many handmade unique artefacts. Some of these include Pop Craddock paintings, Gaudoise Tremblay carvings and a miniature sawmill built by Jalmer Johnson to name a few.

Letters and photos are in abundance including a photo of the Ladder Lake Sunday Picnic where there are water and boats in the lake. There are photos of the mill days and the town as it grew and diminished and grew again. There are so many interesting items in this small little building tucked away on 3rd Avenue North. This summer when it is open go and have a look at our wonderful people and their past.

Paintings done by Pop Craddock.
Paintings done by Pop Craddock.

Carvings by Gaudoise Tremblay and Jalmer Johnson.
Carvings by Gaudoise Tremblay, miniature Steam Engine. Sawmill by Jalmer Johnson.

Rosella and Mitchell Teer opening the museum.
Rosella and Mitchell Teer opening the museum.

Artifacts in the Museum.
Artifacts in the Museum.

Artifacts in the Museum.
Calendar from Young's Garage, 1942. Number Please! Remember when?

Big River Museum.
Big River Museum.

Big River Regional Park

The Big River Regional Park Authority was first established in 1978 to help with funding for clubhouse, equipment and improvements for the Big River Golf Course. By becoming a Regional Park Authority, the funding would be realized from the Provincial Government (60%) and the town and RM of Big River sharing the remaining 40%. The project was completed in 1983. The original course consisted of 9 holes with many local golfers and visitors enjoying a round or two of golf.

The Authority members at this time were representatives from the Gordon Meadows, Carmen Weir, Garry Cooper, Hank Randall, E.B. (Bud) Juker and George Yurach. The Rural Municipality representatives were Ted Arsenault and Abe Bergen.

The Big River Golf Course lease was terminated in 2001 by the town and is no longer a part of the Regional Park Authority.

In 1984, a new Authority was formed with the members being Lloyd Corbett, Hank Randall, Ivy Johnson, Bruce Anderson, John Kuxhaus, Albert Moyer, Ross Lewis, Richard Burt, Norman Sandry, Jesse Klassen, Grant Gould and Agnes Hyllestad. At that time there were plans to develop a campground. With agreements in place once more, funding was received from the Provincial Government and the two councils. Work began on this project in 1986 and in August of 1991, Premier Grant Devine was here to officially participate in our grand opening.

The campgrounds are located adjacent to and east of the Big River arena on 1st Street North. At present, there are nine fully serviced sites, thirteen un - serviced sites and six tenting sites with water. Each site has a barbecue stand and picnic table. The main building has a coin-operated washer and dryer, pay telephone, washroom facilities with showers and is wheelchair accessible. There is also a dumping station and water filling station on the site. The campground development is an ongoing project with the un-serviced sites becoming fully serviced as required and funding being available.

In 1991, the Big River Regional Park Authority leased land for the "Bodmin Ski Development Association" so that a ski hill could be developed. This was a 21-year lease and will expire in 2012.

Plans were also going ahead in 1991, to develop a small campground/day camp at the bottom of Main Street adjacent to Cowan Lake. In 1995 these plans were realized with picnic tables, barbecue stands, washroom facilities and a fish filleting building. This area had always been a busy area with boat launching and fishing from the dock and the day camp has made it a little more comfortable for the community and visitors. With many people asking about camping overnight at the day camp, six electrical sites, as well as a sheltered picnic site, were added in 2001.

The Big River Regional Park Authority has been in place at this time for 25 years and besides the members on the Authority, there have been numerous volunteers who have given of their time, hard work and equipment, in the development and upkeep of both facilities.

Over the years it was found that a large number of Authority members were not needed and the number of members has been reduced to four, two representatives from the town and two representatives from the R.M. As of Aug. 2002, the members were Steve Raymond, Kyle Serada, Bruce Anderson and Ivy Johnson. With the passing of Ivy Johnson in August after 18 years as Secretary Treasurer, Shelley Johnson volunteered to become the acting secretary treasurer until someone could be appointed to replace Mrs. Johnson.

The currently appointed members of the Authority are Holly Reimer and Shelley Johnson from the RM, Steve Raymond as a representative at large, John Kuxhaus from the town with one more town representative to be named. Bruce Anderson will step down after 19 years on the Authority, once the second appointment is made.

In a small town we depend on volunteers and the goodwill and hard work of the community and it's people. The Big River Regional Park Authority is one of the many accomplishments we can all be proud of.

Big River Regional Park.
Big River Regional Park.

Big River Theatre

Clarke Lake Lodge

April 23, 1993, Richard, Ramona and John Farago became the proud owners of Clarke Lake Lodge. It was in need of some tender loving care and lots and lots of dollars. At the beginning the lodge was only five cabins and two campsites. Today there are twenty - five campsites, six cabins, and a remodeled lodge with addition what we've done. It's a good thing Richard is such a good carpenter and John is a good carpenter's helper.

Halvor Ausland was the spice of life around Clarke Lake for many years. He was full of stories and jokes and a person never tired of hearing his stories. Richard acquired the commercial fishing rights on Clarke Lake from Halvor Ausland, in 1994.

Henry Meyers is also a local colorful character. He is a wise and knowledgeable bushman, fisherman, trapper and fireman. Many a story he has yet to tell. Richard bought Henry Meyer's trap line, which is on the Clarke Lakes and John bought Halvor's, which is side by side. So between the fishing camp in the summer and the outfitting for bear and whitetail deer in the spring and fall, the commercial fishing and trapping in the winter, it doesn't leave you with a lot of free time.

I almost forgot to mention that during the month of September and October we are a depot for wild rice for Lynn Riese out of La Ronge.

It's a beautiful place to live with lots of work. At present our hours of operation for fishing is May 15 to September 15. Just watch for the big "H" boatload of flowers, that's where we are.

Clarke Lake Lodge.
Clarke Lake Lodge.

Classic View Resort

Curling Rink

The first curling rink was built in 1949 where the town maintenance shop is now. The rink was built with volunteer labor, and had two sheets of ice. Very few people here knew much about curling, so most people learned to curl in that rink.

Funds were short so some members bought sets of rocks to be left at the rink for all to use, some sets were heavier than others.

The skips all had their own ribbons or tassels that were tied onto the rock handles. The rocks were not numbered as they are now. That way they knew their own rocks.

Many bonspiels were held in that rink. Ladies bonspiels were played late in the spring when the weather was getting warm, so they were at the rink at 6 a.m. There was 2 inches of water on the ice so it was decided to flip a coin, winner taking first prize. It had to be decided as the banquet was the next day when all the curling prizes were given out.

Mrs J.K. Johnson ran the canteen in the rink for many years.

The curling rink was added to the First Memorial Rink in 1961. It was in use that fall, and had two sheets of ice and shared the canteen with the skating rink. It was where the Co-op Store is now.

In 1982, a new Memorial rink was built, with a curling rink. It has three sheets of ice, we now have artificial ice.

Delaronde Resort

E & E Camping

E & E Camping is owned and operated by Ed and Eleanor Bahnuick from Canwood. They currently operate the campsites at Hackett Lake, Zig Zag Bay and Ness Lake.

At Hackett Lake, you can camp along the lake or in an individual site. There is also a small beach and excellent fishing of Northern Pike and Pickerel. Ness Lake offers camping on the water's edge and fishing including northern pike, pickerel, and perch. To phone these places in the summer; phone - 469-7462.

Zig Zag Bay is located on Delaronde Lake and Lynn Sten hosts it. It boasts beautiful, well-treed sites. To phone Zig Zag Bay; phone - 747-7222 in the summer.

Gould's Campground

Harry's Boating'

Harry and Barbara Phillips purchased three boats and motors from Sam Miller in 1968; or thereabout!

They rented boats to the public during the summer months on Cowan Lake, usually from May 24 to the Labor Day Weekend. They rented boats to people from all over Saskatchewan and as far south as Florida, United States. A man named Jim Miller was one of their favourite customers who came regularly from Florida. They soon purchased three new Lund boats with nine horse, seven horse, and five horse Mercury motors. They supplied tubs for the fish and life jackets for the tourists. Harry always said, "Wear them and don't sit on them"

Barb and Harry Phillips operating Harry's Boating.
Barb and Harry Phillips operating Harry's Boating.

Barb and Harry Phillips operating Harry's Boating.
Barbara and Barbara Ann Phillips filleting fish for tourists.

Besides their daughters, Audrey, Joan and Barbara Ann working for them, were Ronald Johnston (Jean's son), Wayne "Twinks" Watson, Jonathan Toone, Norman Warriner, Lester Miller, and David Cadrin. These kids would fillet fish. When the tourists never returned at sundown, Harry would have to go look for them and bring them in. One tourist had upset a boat, he was wearing a snowsuit and managed to get himself and the boat to shore at Swanson's place and walked all the way around, back to the dock.

In approximately in 1972, Harry and Barbara sold the boats to Gary Magrath.

Michel's Outfitter's Tourists

Mill Ridge Golf Course

Submitted by Debbie Hodgson

In May 2002, Ron and Debbie Hodgson entered into an agreement with members of Big River Golf Club and the Town of Big River. In the agreement, we had two years to fill our obligations consisting of upgrading from sand green to nine holes of grass greens with an irrigation system to water greens and new tee - off boxes. Also in the agreement to build new washrooms in the clubhouse.

In May 2004, Big River Golf Club was turned over to Ron and Debbie Hodgson. Presently we operate the Golf Club under the name Mill Ridge Golf Course. We have six employees that work on a seasonal basis from May 1st to the end of September.

Mill Ridge Golf Course.
Mill Ridge Golf Course.

Ness Creek Studio

Pickerel Point Resort

Pickerel Point Resort, is a fully serviced campground designed for long - term and overnight camping. They are situated 19 kilometres north of Big River on the southeast side of scenic Delaronde Lake. They have a well -treed facility with a swimming pool, cabins, marina, convenience store, restaurant, laundry, and clean bathrooms with flush toilets and showers. Delaronde Lake is a very large lake that has excellent fishing but is not always assessable because of high winds, however, with numerous small lakes in the area, you can take your pick on where to fish. There is also a wide range of quad and ski-doo trails in the area as well as a National Park just seven kilometres north of Pickerel Point Resort.

Pool Hall

Poplar Point Resort

Submitted by Keith Wilson

Keith bought Poplar Point Resort from Peter and Kathy Lomax in 1985. Keith, along with his family ran Poplar Point Resort during the summer months. They lived at the resort for two years but due to no power they moved to a house in the Rural Municipality, but still managed to run the resort. Keith fixed up three more cabins that had been started, to complete his business of eight cabins in total, ten campsites and thirteen boats and motors for the tourists to enjoy their summer fishing in Cowan Lake. With the help of his family, they ran the resort for seven years after which time they sold out to Dennis Johnson.

Poplar Point Resort

Submitted by Peter and Kathy Lomax

When we first came to Canada 24 years ago as newlyweds, we first settled in Ontario operating, in turn, a restaurant, sewing centre, and finally establishing a printing company. It was in the Muskoka district of Northern Ontario that we first recognized our love of Canada's northern forests and lakes.

I became involved in Tourism when we went to the Bahamas for two years to manage the printing and publishing of a tourist publication. Returning to Canada (Winnipeg) I continued my interest in Tourism as an active member of the Tourism Committee of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce while Editor of a weekly newspaper.

It was the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool who brought me to Saskatoon as Sales Manager of the printing division, and as Chairman of the Saskatoon Board of Trade Tourist Committee. I became involved in Phantom Tourist awards, tourist information booths, Pioneer Days, etc.

Our vacation always consisted of two or three weeks in Northern Saskatchewan to La Loche on the West Side, Otter rapids in the centre, and Pelican narrows and Flin Flon in the east. When the opportunity and challenge arose to become Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Tourist Association I relinquished my safe pensionable position with the Wheat Pool to take up the challenge and for two years travelled the province promoting tourism and representing the private sector to Government on many important issues. During this time I came to know many of the Dept. of Tourism Administrative personnel. Perhaps the most important event as a turning point in our lives was my attendance at several N.S.O.A. conventions as guest and speaker, and I began to realize that becoming an outfitter would be consistent with my love of the north and my interest in Tourism.

I had preached to outfitters that they were overlooking a large potential market-the Saskatchewan market. Now was the time to put my preaching to practice and we purchased a small existing camp on Cowan Lake, 21 miles north-west of Big River. Although the camp had no electricity, no running water, no docks or toilets, and only a few old wooden boats with four - six hp motors. The potential existed for it was located within easy driving distance of all Southern Saskatchewan. While pickerel was scarce in the lake, and trout non - existent there is an abundance of Northern Pike. Our marketing strategy was clear. Introduce "amateur" fisherman to the beauties of the North.

Understanding Saskatchewan people are not generally prepared to spend a lot of money fishing in the north, as it is so readily accessible to them. Our prices had to be tailored to the market and various economies effected to accomplish this (such as 71/2 and 10 hp motors instead of 20 hp, no bedding supplied, etc.).

In the seven years we have been operating Poplar Point we have plowed back the entire profits into the business (to the point where I have found it necessary to work elsewhere in the winter to exist) but we have seen our camp improved year to year with such things as electricity in all cabins, central showers and flush toilets, concrete launching ramp, a fleet of 15 aluminium boats with new motors, and this year doubled the size of our store and built two new cabins with flush toilets and running water. Although relatively close to "civilization" we do not yet enjoy some of the amenities of other camps as far as 90 to 100 miles North of us, such as Sask. Power (we generate our own electricity) paved roads (gravel), and regular telephone (we have a VHF radiotelephone). We are also in a particular geographic position being a few miles South of that imaginary NAD line thus discriminated against (we can't use purple gas in our boats for example unlike most of our colleagues) and sometimes adhering to slightly different rules and regulations.

As I mentioned previously, I have found it necessary to work in the winter (as an Income Tax Accountant, specializing in Farms and small business) and we have a small home in Warman, fifteen miles from Saskatoon. Last year, however, we commenced building a house in camp and hope to live here most of the winter working on the interior.

We are coming to the end of another season and this last week has been quiet with few guests.

We have taken the opportunity to catch up on several "fixing" jobs, and lots of painting (cabins, filleting house, etc.). As we have been working away at these tasks I have been reflecting on our rather unusual occupation. Despite its many frustrations, Outfitting has a lot to offer. First the opportunity to live in our beautiful North, second the gratitude of those we are privileged to supply services to (and the many friends made), and third, the pride of accomplishment when you realize that you have finally become an established outfitter.

Ski Timber Ridge

Ski Timber Ridge.
Ski Timber Ridge.

Ski Timber Ridge Chalet.
Ski Timber Ridge Chalet.


Nicole Klassen Bookkeeping

I, Nicole Klassen, work as a bookkeeper out of my home. I learned how to keep proper records of businesses books by helping my mom. My grandmother was also a bookkeeper, along with my Aunty Joan. My great grandfather was an accountant, so I guess you could say I come by it naturally! I attended SIAST in Prince Albert in the fall of 2002 and received my Bookkeeping for Small Businesses Certificate. I have worked as a bookkeeper for approximately five years now. I do a range of work including payrolls, general ledger, general journals, accounts payable and receivable, income tax preparation, personal and small business for numerous people and businesses in the Big River area.

Pam Sharp

Susan Lamothe

Electrical - Plumbing

Cooper Electric

A.H. (Tony) Cooper: After working for Saskatchewan Forest Products from 1948 - 1963 as head millwright and electrician he decided to go into business for himself.

Tony had done some electrical work during his time in the RCAF and worked as an electrician's helper with Sargent Electric during the construction of the big mill in the late 1940s. Although he had only a grade eight education he began taking upgrading at home and in 1963 he went to school for one winter in Moose Jaw S.I.T. It was not easy for him because at age 45 he was the oldest student in the whole school. After taking one year of a three-year course, he wrote his electrical exam and was able to obtain his Journeyman license.

In 1964, after acquiring a contract with many houses in the far north (Buffalo Narrows, Ile- a-la Crosse, and Beauval) Tony convinced his two boys Garry and Mervin to work with him. At this time he also expanded his business to include the installation of oil-fired heating systems and thereby became Cooper Electric and Heating.

In the year that followed both boys trained under their father and worked through the apprenticeship program to obtain their journeyman's tickets.

For many years the Coopers worked together as a team in the surrounding area and the north. During this time they also did electrical maintenance for Saskatchewan Timber Board at the mill and Planer and also did the construction and maintenance of lines and equipment for the Big River Telephone Company.

The mill burnt down in 1969 and in 1970 a new mill was built uptown where 6th Avenue is now located. After wiring the new mill the boys stayed with Sask. Forest Products, one on each shift as electricians and millwrights. This ended the family business and Tony carried on, doing his business on his own. Business had dropped off, so he was able to handle things on his own.

During the early years of Cooper Electric and Heating, there were many part - time employees including Blair Mysko, Robert Tardiff, Walter Becker, Mervin Swanson, and many young people from the northern communities.

In 1978, Tony sold out his business to Sy Minovitch and it became S & M Electric.

In 1991, the eldest son Garry decided to once again go back into the electrical construction business and once again resurrected the Cooper Electric name. He remained in business until 2001 when he sold out to Liane and Joe Martel who now own and operate Martel Electric.

There are not many buildings in Big River and area that were not worked on by someone from Cooper Electric at one time or another.

H and J Plumbing and Heating Ltd.

Jack and Hazel began their business in 1964. At that time they were known as McLean's Plumbing and Heating. Over the years the business grew and they worked all over Northern Saskatchewan.

They also employed many people. Some went on to different jobs but many stayed in the Plumbing field.

Stuart and Russell worked for their parents for many years. Stuart received his Journeyman's in Plumbing and Tinsmith, and Russell received his Journeyman's in Plumbing. Stuart, along with his family moved to Edmonton to seek new opportunities. Russell and I remained and in 1993 we took over the business. Stuart moved back that same year to help us when Russell was unable to work.

Our business has changed over the years, but we still work all over Northern Saskatchewan. This year 2003, we moved the business to our home. We built a shop and things are still very busy. We employ three people and our nephew Keith is apprenticing with us.

Martel Electric.

Joe started his business in March 2000. He purchased the business and equipment from Cooper Electric and his shop from Scott and Don Porter. He currently has two apprentices, Clay Gear and Ryan McKay working for him and serves Big River and surrounding area.

Martel Electric.
Martel Electric.

Morin Plumbing, Heating & Gas

Murray's Electric

S & M Electric

Funeral Homes

Beaulac Funeral Home

Daley's Funeral Home

Daley's Funeral Home.
Daley's Funeral Home.

In 1965, Mike and Aileen purchased Henry Pederson's house next door to their home. This became Daley's Funeral Home. Before this, Mike was using his station wagon for a hearse. Later, the station wagon was used as an ambulance. They were also agents for Elizabeth Florals of Prince Albert. Aileen also created many of her own flower arrangements.

Daley's Funeral Home hearse.
Daley's Funeral Home hearse.

Mike and Aileen continued to run the Funeral Home until 1995 when a prospective buyer showed an interest in the business. Upon Mikes passing, the business was sold to Beau Lac Funeral Home. Delores Beaulac and her son Edward, from Spiritwood, Saskatchewan continue to operate the business today.

Forbes's Funeral Home

Financial Institutions


The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce opened in Big River on October 26, 1949. A new building on Main Street was built in January 1967. Several upgrades have been made to the building including an addition in 1980 and the instant teller machine in the late 1990s. Five staff members are ranging in years of service from three years to twenty - eight years.

In 1867, the year that Canada became a country, CIBC's predecessor, The Canadian Bank of Commerce was opened for business in Toronto. Back then, they were a modest, regional bank confined to lending and deposit - taking, who at the end of the first fiscal year had $3 million in assets.

In 1961, The Canadian Bank of Commerce merged with the Imperial Bank of Canada and was renamed the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, with total assets of $4.6 billion.

In 1992, the CIBC celebrated its 125th anniversary and had achieved total assets of 132.2 billion by the year - end. Today CIBC's assets exceed $240 billion.

CIBC, 2004.
CIBC, 2004.

Debden Credit Union Limited

Debden Credit Union Limited originated in 1939 and was first incorporated as the Debden Parish Savings and Credit Union Limited. In 1947, the name was changed to its present name of Debden Credit Union Limited. In 1973, a new building was constructed and the credit union was relocated to its present site. The credit union presently employs a General manager, Manager of Lending, Loans Officer, Officer Supervisor, two full-time member service representatives, three part - time member service representatives and a student position.

Debden Credit Union, 1996 - 2004.
Debden Credit Union, 1996, 2004.

In 1996, the Debden Credit Union Limited decided to open a branch office in the town of Big River. The Branch is presently located in the old theatre building. The credit union has purchased the old Pharmacy building and will be relocating by the middle of 2004. The Branch presently employs a Branch Manager, one full-time employee, one permanent part-time and one casual position.

Debden Credit Union Limited offers full service at both branches.

After 25 years of operation, the credit union had total assets of $452,663.00 and equity of $12,867.00. In 1989 after 50 years of service to the members, total assets were $10,102,070.00 and equity of $939,381.00. At the end of 2002, the Debden Credit Union had total assets of $25,058,476.00 and equity totalling $2,163,098.00.

Our Vision is to be a progressive community cooperative that provides full financial services to you.

Our Mission is to be a credit union that is open - minded to the views of our members and responsive to their needs.

Debden Credit Union Limited, Big River Branch.
Debden Credit Union Limited, Big River Branch.

Barbers & Hair Dressers

Barb Thiessen

Coates Clip & Curl

Colleen Christiansen

Elizabeth Layer Beauty Salon

Hair Cafe

J and S Hair Care

Mind, Body and Spirit

Sandra's Beauty Salon

Sandra's Beauty Salon is located in downtown Big River on 1st Avenue North. The salon offers a full range of services and retail products.

Owner Sandra Gilbert has just celebrated her 25th year of service. Sandra and her staff work hard at keeping the customers happy and the prices reasonable. Although appointments are recommended, you can always pop in for a visit and maybe a haircut.

Sandra's offers haircuts, sets, perms, colours, facials, manicures and pedicures. There is something for everyone, so stop in for a visit and bring the whole family.

Sherry Cowan Salon



Big River Welding

Chalifour & Granberg Welding

Chamberland Welding

Chamberland's Blacksmith Shop in Big River.
Chamberland's Blacksmith Shop in Big River.

e-mail me.

Author: Webmaster -
"Date Modified: March 22, 2024."

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200 Year History.

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Ed Theriau

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By Art Karas

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| The Death of Albert Johnson |

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| Gold and Other Stories |
Berry Richards