Just another Friday in rural Sask, a set on Flickr.
Last Friday, my friend Wanda kindly toured me around the grid roads east of Livelong. We were looking for the Speedwell cemetery, along with the site of the Speedwell school.
What the heck is Speedwell, you ask? Well, it was a Mennonite community north of Fairholme, Sask. Author Rudy Wiebe grew up in Speedwell, which I believe sprang up during the Depression.
Speedwell had a short existence. It’s what Wiebe calls a “tombstone community.” Here’s an excerpt from his book River of Stone:
Scattered here and there across Western Canada are communities which stand as tombstones to the “homestead method” of rural settlement. A number of them were established during the depression years of the 1930s when, desperate for an honest livelihood, thousands of impoverished families felt that if only they had land to live on, they could avoid both hunger and the dole. And there lay such an immensity of Canada beyond the strip of southern settlement and below the rock of the Canadian Shield; surely it could be settled in the tried and proven way: 160 acres and five years with minimum improvements and the land was theirs. Get enough famies to settle in one area and presto! – a stable community had begun.