A Day Trip to Wolseley and Ellisboro

day-trip-wolseley-ellisboroA Day Trip to Wolseley and Ellisboro Saskatchewan

On a beautiful Saturday, my family decided to go for a drive. We first headed to Wolseley. Located right on the Number 1 Highway, about an hour east of Regina, it is historic and grand looking. Beautifully maintained historic homes nestle between newer houses, all on large, well-treed lots. There are even still inhabited stone houses, likely from Wolseley’s earliest settlers.

My family settled just south of Wolseley (there’s even a Garden Street – that’s my maiden name). My grandpa’s family farmed on the other side of the Qu’Appelle Valley, near Ellisboro, for many years, so I am familiar with the little town of Wolseley and the hamlet of Ellisboro.

Wolseley

Our first stop was the famous swinging bridge. The original bridge was erected in 1906, and rebuilt 98 years later in 2004. And apparently it came down in the 1960’s as well. Hopefully it is up to stay for a while now! The bridge is super swingy (just go on it with my family if you aren’t sure). We parked on the north side of the bridge and walked over to the side with the nursing home. You can see the Opera House/Town Hall from the bridge along with Adair and Wolf Creeks and many residences.

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Wolseley Swinging Bridge

Our next stop was the Opera House, which was built in 1906. It’s maintained by the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation and Wolseley Heritage Foundation and it is a provincially designated heritage building. We couldn’t see the inside, but the outside is gorgeous, with the original yellow bricks. We also had to check out Banbury House, which was built in 1905 by Edwin Banbury, the founder of the Beaver Lumber Company. It is now a bed and breakfast Inn, and likely should be your first choice if you are planning an overnight stay in Wolseley.

wolseley-town-hall-saskatchewanWolseley Opera House and Town Hall

Ellisboro

After leaving Wolseley, we headed north to the tiny hamlet of Ellisboro. Ellisboro is basically a few homes, a couple of old churches, an old hall and a cemetery. Our first stop was the cemetery, as that’s where my grandparents are buried. It might be the prettiest cemetery that I’ve ever seen. Nestled upon the hill and surrounded by mature evergreen trees, it’s a beautiful final resting place.

Our next stop was the Anglican Church and the Hall. To our surprise, we could get into both buildings. The church has pews, a piano, pulpit  and other religious items. There are also photos on the wall and a list of the people of the area who fought in the wars. We easily found my grandpa’s name – as you can imagine, there weren’t a lot of names on  the list, being such a tiny place. It’s amazing the artifacts that have been collected. Tons of photos and other sentimental items line the walls, and visitors seem so respectful of these unmanned places. You can sign a guestbook and leave a bit of change to help pay for the maintenance.

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Ellisboro Anglican Church

Ellisboro Hall is full of framed photos on the wall. I can remember going there as a child to celebrate my grandparent’s 40th anniversary and my grandpa’s 80th birthday. I can’t even imagine the amount of dances and parties those walls have seen! It was built in 1899, so just the fact that it is still standing tall is astounding.

We happened upon an abandoned house in Ellisboro behind the United Church. It was creepy. So creepy. We peeked inside through an open door and broken window and I definitely got the heeby jeebies. It was full of furniture, pieces of wood and even old books. It was like the owners just abandoned it. It got me thinking – what would cause someone to just walk away from their home. A terrible tragedy? A huge lottery win? I’ve seen abandoned homes before, but I haven’t ever noticed them full of stuff. I mean, why would you leave and not take your radio? Or your books? It really got me thinking and if anyone knows the answer, I would appreciate a message letting me know what the scoop is!

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Ellisboro Abandoned House

It is actually sad. People lived there, they played there, they read there and now nobody does anything there – although we did see a black cat that likely found some dinner there. There was another windowless house across the road that we also checked out – but it wasn’t full of stuff. It was still creepy, though. It’s so strange to see a place that has no windows or doors with peeling wallpaper and dust coating every surface.

ellisboro-abandoned-housesEllisboro Abandoned Houses

We finished our trip by heading towards Katepwa. Just a warning, if you want to do the Ellisboro to Katepwa road through the Qu’Appelle Valley, it’s a good weather road, so don’t try it after a huge rain or when there’s a lot of snow on the ground. We crossed the beautiful bridge that was erected in the 1930’s as a make work project for unemployed men. I remember my grandpa telling me that he worked on several of those bridges, so I always think of him when I go across them.

EDIT: Some people have asked me who my grandparents were so I thought you might want the deets – they were Norman and Velma Garden. Grandpa was raised in Wolseley and they moved away for a while but they retired in a little house on Gordon Street in Wolseley. My Grandma lived in the nursing home there before she passed away.

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Qu’Appelle Valley Bridge, erected in 1931

We finished with a visit to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation Lottery cottage. Nicer than my home, I wouldn’t mind winning that one. I think it’s only open for a few more weeks, so check it out soon if you want to see it. You can get tickets here if you are interested.

I hope this got you thinking about checking out the amazing places you can see right here in Saskatchewan!

Patti

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21 comments on “A Day Trip to Wolseley and Ellisboro

  1. OH! So many memories! I know all about that swingy swinging bridge, I can still feel it! AND… I performed highschool plays in that opera house! Ellisboro has a special spot in my heart, I loved Grandma and Grandpa Garden, and will never forget Grandpa’s 80th!
    The Ellisboro to Katepwa road has been done with hockey gear on the back of the truck and snow all around.. I’d rather not talk about it, but let’s just say my favourite saying to the driver was “I TOLD you not to take this road!” 😉

  2. Dear Patti, Hoping all is well. I came upon your trip. Just to inform you of the bridge story. The second bridge was actually built in 1964. Spring. The original turned over during a storm in 1954 or 55. My husband Murray Chatterson was the last person on that bridge. A storm came up during a show in the Wolseley Town Hall. Everybody had to run. Jim Bell got over the bridge first and turned back to pull Murray off of the bridge. In 1964 Art Malo headed up the rebuild of the bridge. Murray went to Regina with Terry Fay and came back with the cables for underneath the bridge. The planks that they used for the flooring of the bridge came from the old Wolseley High School which was torn down after the new Wolseley School was built on the West side of Town. Also, I was in the first grade 12 that graduated from the new Wolseley School in 1962. The bridge was built in 1964 and lasted until someone tried to tighten up the cables on the bridge and the cable gave way. One of huge turnbuckles or bolts broke off. Someone was hurt. Shortly after Kevin Smith was the pusher or instigator to rebuild the present bridge. PS. I have to admit I do not like it where it is. It was much nicer going straight across the dam. But because the new Lakeside Home had a huge deck and it would have had to be taken apart , the father of the town decieded to build it on the angle.

    • Thanks for adding to the story Robyn! I couldn’t find anything on the bridge other than what was up near the bridge and what I remember (which wasn’t a lot!).

  3. Patti. Just a small correction. It is Adair creek that flows under the swinging bridge and into the spillway. Wolf creek is on the west side of town that runs through the campground. Adair and Wolf creek meet up later on down the line and form one creek that empties into the Qu’Appelle river. Thank you for sharing this story.

  4. Hi Patti
    The house behind the church I believe was built as a manse, but then was converted to be used as a high school. It was one of, or the only rural high school in Saskatchewan. I was chair of the Ellisboro Community Association for many years and we (the people of the area) with help from donations from ex residents have done a lot of work over the years to keep the buildings in decent condition. We are very happy when visitors stop and enjoy them.
    Rod Edgar (son of Ruth McCormick from the north hill also, but way east of the Gardens)

  5. Patti–Norman (nicknamed Nornie) and Velma lived down Water Street west of our home, and I can remember my folks wandering down there after we were in bed. They’d play rummy and drink coffee. Velma was my first teacher as the regular Grade One teacher, Mrs. Ballantyne, was unavailable at the beginning of our first year in 1953. Did you know there was a “footbridge” across the creek in the 1890s, but it didn’t swing? And ALL the maps of Wolseley from the early 1900s name the creek “Wolf Creek”. Kay Parley, the well-known Saskatchewan writer, was raised in the Moffat district, and they called it “Wolf Creek” all through her youth. HOWEVER, some provincial geographers (geologists?) made the point that this creek starts in the Adair district, so should be named Adair Creek. The argument continues. Thanks for coming to our beautiful town.

    • HI Stephen.
      Thanks for the story about my grandparents. They always talked about how much fun they had in Wolseley.
      I had no idea about the foot bridge – Wolseley has so much history but it’s hard to find much of it.

  6. Patti,

    Great article! As you know, my Grandfather Jock Garden was your Grandfather’s brother, Uncle Nornie to me. My Grandmother, Isa (Graham)Taylor , was a step-child of Peter Ferguson’s and a believe a step-cousin of your Grandmother, Aunt Velma to me. What’s more the house on Gorden street was Nana Taylor’s before your Grandparents lived there. Lot’s of connections I’d say.

    • Hi Robert. There are so many connections in Wolseley! We were driving around and I remembered where a few relatives used to live, but there’s no way that I could remember all of them. I had forgotten that your grandma lived in my grandparent’s house but now it’s coming back to me 😉
      It was so fun going to Wolseley and Ellisboro! Even my kids enjoyed it – I guess we will have to do it more frequently!

  7. I’ve been working on an archive for about two years now. Some answers, but also many more questions. Slowly going through the Wolseley News files and finding little clues here and there. If you’re ever down this way, let me know. Also, if you have any historical Wolseley photos, I’d love to see them. Not own them! I can use the jpegs in the archive with permission.

  8. Hi there Patti
    I love your pictures… all of them… just keep them coming… OH and I was never brave enough to walk on the swing bridge in Wolseley.

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