Category Archives: SouthWest Saskatchewan

Our Oil History

By Craig Baird

The oil and gas industry in the Gull Lake region has a special place in my own family history. After all, it was nearly 50 years ago that my grandfather was killed working only a few kilometres south of Gull Lake on a pump jack.

Researching the history of the oil and gas industry in the region, it is interesting to note just how far back it goes and the impact it has had on our small town.

We have to go back about 70 million years to find the source of our oil wealth in this region. There are several geological eras under us but it is the Jurassic Layer where we find all the oil.

Going down roughly one kilometer (1,000 to 1,150 metres), the wells tap into this source of oil and natural gas. All of this was formed by an ancient sea 70 million years ago that helped to create the oil patch zones under us. Every bit of oil that comes out of the ground is eons of animal and plant life that lived and died in that sea.

For the first half of Gull Lake’s history, there was nearly no activity since most in the area were concerned with ranching and farming.

By the mid-1950s, oil activity increased in the area on a limited scale for about ten years. In the issues of the Gull Lake Advance from 1955, the boom of oil was evident in the masthead, which contained oil wells and, in large letters, OIL.

In the mid-1960s, drilling began to increase and by the 1980s there were 400 producing wells in the Gull Lake area. This naturally helped out both the RM of Gull Lake and the Town of Gull Lake. With a broadened tax base, by 1989, 61 per cent of the tax revenue of the area came from oil wells while 39 per cent came from agriculture.

Today, several oil and gas companies operate in the area and the landscape is dotted with pump jacks and drilling crews.

While it may have taken 70 million years for us to utilize the energy under the ground, it has helped Gull Lake progress from its early years into an important energy hub in southwest Saskatchewan today.

Article Compliments of The Gull Lake Advance

Pipeline Foods Invests in Canadian Expansion

Pipeline Foods LLC, the first U.S.-based supply chain solutions company focused exclusively on non-GMO and organic food and feed, announced today the acquisition of two grain elevator facilities in Wapella and Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.

Wapella, a 3,500 metric ton (MT) facility, and Gull Lake, a 4,000 MT facility, will each serve as a primary collection point for Canadian organic grain origination in their regions (southeast and southwest, respectively). Pipeline Foods will store, screen and blend grains including barley, corn, rye, flax, lentils, oats, peas, soybeans and wheat, and then ship via truck or rail. “These investments help Pipeline Foods move quickly toward our vision of building a more sustainable organic supply chain in agriculture,” said Eric Jackson, CEO of Pipeline Foods. “The Wapella and Gull Lake grain elevators place us right in the heart of Canadian organic grain production, provide a new channel for farmers to do business, and allow us to connect this grain supply with food companies and manufacturers across the U.S.”

Both facilities are certified organic through Pro-Cert, which is accredited in both the United States and Canada. They are each forecasted to move an estimated 25,000 MT in 2018, with increasing capacity expected after initial capital investments are made this year.

Wapella and Gull Lake are located along the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, providing inbound and outbound truck and rail convenience. Pipeline’s purchase of the Wapella facility includes installation of the main line rail switch, reconnecting the facility to the Canadian Pacific Railway after being out of service for over 15 years.

“We are very excited to have Pipeline Foods take over the elevator in Wapella, and about the return of trains rolling through town to pick up grain cars,” said Sandy Hintz, Mayor of Wapella. “Pipeline Foods has already been very supportive of community fundraisers and projects. The addition of staff at the elevator will create more support for our local businesses, and Pipeline Foods’ big investment in elevator infrastructure will create additional tax revenue for our town.”

“I recently had an opportunity to tour the Pipeline Foods Facility and was impressed with the current operations and planned upgrades,” said Gull Lake Mayor Blake Campbell. “Our local businesses keep our community strong, and we are very pleased to welcome Pipeline Foods to Gull Lake.”

Organic grain production has grown steadily in southern Saskatchewan, largely in response to consumer demand for organic grains, and supported by the diverse crop rotation in the region. Organic cropping benefits from weed and pest control without the use of synthetic inputs due to a more diverse, longer crop rotation.

“Our expansion through these two facilities will enable Pipeline Foods to cultivate closer relationships with producers, ensure a clean and transparent supply, and ultimately offer better value for our customers,” Jackson said.

Pipeline Foods is pursuing opportunities to invest $300-500MM over the next three to five years to build a better, more sustainable supply chain in agriculture. Pipeline Foods is actively buying all classes of organic wheat, pulses and oats.


Wong Guy and his Shoe Shop

Wong Guy and his Shoe Shop GULL LAKE SouthWest Saskatchewan  Wong Guy Shoe Shop

By Craig Baird

Walk down the street in Gull Lake and you will see a building that has murals of a shoe shop on it. In the mural is a man contently working on shoes. That man is Wong Guy and that building is his shoe shop, which closed in in the late-1970s and has remained in the same condition since then, complete with National Geographic’s from the 1970s. Inside the shop is a piece of history preserved in time, but what about the man who ran it?

Wong Guy arrived in Canada from China at the age of 13-years-old, working his way along the east coast and for the British Gentry in Windermere B.C. Around 1917-18, he moved to Gull Lake, a place he would call home for the rest of his life.

As a young man, he worked for Mah Jim, one of the first residents from China in Gull Lake. Jim operated a laundry and restaurant.

During that time, Wong is remembered for his bravery during the Spanish Flu epidemic that hit Gull Lake in 1918 and 1919. During this trying time, Guy worked night and day, providing food for the community and those who had lost loved ones to the disease. From this point on, he would be remembered as one of the best citizens Gull Lake ever had.

According to legend, several residents of town came to the café that Wong Guy was working at and stated they needed a cook and they told the café owner that he could either provide a cook or have his café closed down. Wong Guy stepped forward and said he was not afraid and he began cooking for those impacted with the Spanish Flu.

In 1922 (or around that time) Wong Guy bought his shoe shop that would operate until the late 1970s. The building itself had stood since about 1914 when it was operated as a restaurant. When Wong Guy took over, he turned it into a shoe shop but after a restaurant across the street burned down, he opened his place as a restaurant for the citizens of Gull Lake.

Wong Guy is remembered throughout the community for his strong personality and his interest in the people around him. His English was described as its own unique blend of Chinese and British.

For years he was a familiar person on the streets, walking and greeting everyone.

Guy’s wife stayed in China during the 1930s and 1940s until her mother-in-law passed. When she did, she journeyed to Canada at the age of 60 to join him. Their oldest son stayed in China, while their daughter went to Boston and their youngest son, Sam, came to Gull Lake in 1951.

When Wong Guy passed away in 1982, his son took ownership of the building that still stands and still houses all the shoe shop artifacts from over 30 years ago.

In 2005, Gull Lake painted several murals on the outside of the building, and fixed up the exterior, to show what many who walked down the street from 1922 to 1979 saw every day; Wong Guy working hard in his shop, always a friendly face and a smile for those he saw.

« Older Entries