The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan


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Town, pop 887, located 25 km N of Moosomin and 15 km S of the Qu’Appelle Valley on Hwy 8. Above the Qu’Appelle River northeast of the town lies the Fort Esperance National Historic Site, the location of two North West Company fur trading posts dating to the late 18th century. The name Rocanville honours the first postmaster, A.H. Rocan Bastien; the community dates to 1884, when a post office was established within a few kilometres of the present townsite. The CPR station was built in 1904, and the community developed as a service and supply centre for the surrounding farming district, with grain and cattle production being the primary activities. In recent years, the area’s agricultural industry has grown to include dairy, elk, and fallow deer producers, as well as several beekeepers. In 1924 a local entrepreneur, Ernie Symons, began mass-production in Rocanville of an oil can that he designed for use on farm and industrial machinery. Symons Oilers proved to be the best of their kind, and a small shop turned into a factory. During World War II, the oil cans were greatly in demand for the maintenance of aircraft, tanks, and other military equipment; by the end of the war, over one million had been produced at the Rocanville plant. On July 1, 1973, the community honoured Ernie Symons for 50 continuous years in business: the day was proclaimed Symons Day, and a giant-scale model oiler was erected on a base at the east entrance to the town. After Symons’ death, the factory was purchased by another company, which changed the oil can’s design; however, it proved unsuccessful and the plant folded in the late 1980s. Recently, local residents have undertaken the restoration of the oil can factory, which was declared a heritage property in 1996. In the late 1960s, a potash mine was developed 16 km northeast of Rocanville; acquired by the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan in 1977, it continues to employ approximately 330 people. In recent years, the oil industry has been making considerable incursions into the area. The Rocanville and District Museum site has one of the province’s most impressive assemblies of vintage tractors, as well as a collection of historic buildings.

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.