First Permanent Settlers
The community of Buffalo Narrows began to exist when Martial Kiezie, along with his wife Charlotte and brother Pat, became it's first permanent settlers in 1895.
The settlement grew very slowly at first. Transient trappers and fishermen came to the area to ply their trades, but resided here for only a short period of time. The first influx of permanent settlers, after the Kiezies, occurred in the 1920's. In 1923, Celestin Mckay, Harry McCallum, Jeremy Caisse, Joe Petit, and a fellow named Duncan McFullen built several cabins on Mckay Island for fishing and trapping purposes. Later Tom Pederson also had a cabin located on McKay Island. Eventually, some of these people moved to the mainland and constructed homes while others drifted away.
Once the school was established in the 1930's, people who were located in some of the small nearby communities (such as Sam Seright at Bull's House and Eugene Chartier at Deep River) moved to Buffalo Narrows so their children could get an education. In 1935 (see accompanying map below) there were less than one hundred people in the immediate vicinity of Buffalo Narrows. There were a few scattered houses surrounded by bush and connected by rough trails.
In 1942, the population of Buffalo Narrows had risen to two hundred and fourteen people. This slow but steady growth continued, so that by 1952 the population had risen to three hundred and seventy five people. By 1959 the mink ranching "boom" had increased the towns population to seven hundred and twenty eight people. Between 1959 and 1973 the town continued to grow, eventually reaching a peak population of one thousand, one hundred and twenty eight people in 1971. After 1973, the population decreased slightly due to the decline of the mink ranching industry. By the late 1970's, however the population began to increase once again in response to the new employment programs of the Department of Northern Saskatchewan. In the spring of 1980, the population of Buffalo Narrows reached an all time high of one thousand, one hundred and thirty six people.
Information about many of the early settlers of Buffalo Narrows is rather sketchy and sometimes contradictory. However, no history of a community such as Buffalo Narrows, would be complete without at least attempting to report the biographical data which is available.
Sketch of Buffalo Narrows in 1939. It appears to have been hand drawn by W.G (Bill) Tunstead, Conservation Officer in the area at the time (I believe his headquarters was in Ile-a-la-Crosse). Unfortunately, reproduction is somewhat blurred, but some names can be made out and it gives an idea of the layout of the community.