The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan


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Town, pop 4,275, located NE of Melfort on Hwys 35 and 55. The Saskatchewan River passes to the west of the community. The first settlers began making incursions into the area around 1906, and by 1910 Nipawin’s original townsite was developing about 6 km south of the present community. In 1924, the CPR announced its intention to establish a village at the community’s present location. Within weeks, everything from the old townsite was relocated to the rail line. In 1928, a bridge to facilitate rail and road traffic west across the river was begun, which would bring an end to the ferry service and the cable car operation that was used to cross the river. A diverse economy based on forestry, trapping, agriculture, and business allowed the community to develop rapidly. In 1936 the population was 892, and in 1937 Nipawin acquired town status. By 1951, the population was over 3,000. In the early 1960s, the Squaw Rapids (now E.B. Campbell) Dam was completed, forming the large body of water now known as Tobin Lake northeast of the community. In 1986, the François-Finlay Dam was completed, creating Codette Lake to the town’s southwest. Tourism—especially sports fishing—has become an important part of Nipawin’s economy. On January 4, 2005, a world record was set when Father Mariusz Zajac of Carrot River landed, at 8.3 kgs or 18.3 lbs, the largest walleye ever caught ice fishing. Agricultural-based industries are significant employers, and Nipawin is one of the country’s leading producers of honey. A 200-acre nursery produces trees and shrubs which are sold across western Canada, and innovative businesses such as fish farming and manufacturing fishing tackle have developed in recent years. Forestry remains an important component of the area economy. Nipawin is the birthplace of author Sharon Butala and painter Arthur (Art) Fortescue McKay, of Regina Five fame.

David McLennan

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This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.