A 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.
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.
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 Opera House and Town Hall
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
A Day Trip to Moose Jaw
A Road Trip to Kimberley