Gull Lake

Town, pop 1,016, located 56 km SW of Swift Current at the junction of Hwys 1 and 37. It is believed the community’s name is derived from explorer and naturalist John Macoun’s translation of an Indian name for a small nearby lake (perhaps now dried up), which was frequented by gulls, and that surveyors for the railroad adopted this name for the area in 1883. The townsite of Gull Lake is situated on what was once part of the 76 Ranch, established in 1887. The 76 Ranch House, built in 1888, is one of southwestern Saskatchewan's oldest existing buildings. The 10,000-acre 76 Ranch at Gull Lake was one of several massive ranches established by Sir John Lister-Kaye’s Canadian Agricultural, Coal and Colonization Company. By the early 20th century, however, the company was suffering financial losses and land was becoming more profitable for grain farming. In 1905 the Gull Lake block was sold to American millionaire developers, Conrad and Price; they surveyed the townsite and put up the lots for sale. Settlers began to pour in, and between 1906 and 1912 Gull Lake was booming. By 1911, the population was over 600 and the community attained town status. In 1912, Gull Lake had a well-established school, many businesses and services, a doctor, a hospital, and a newspaper, The Gull Lake Advance . Established in 1909, the paper is still in business. After the initial rush of settlers and the building boom, development levelled off and, in the early 1950s, the population was somewhat over 700. With the discovery of oil and gas in the region during the decade, Gull Lake’s population jumped to over 1,000 and it has remained relatively stable since. Today, farming, ranching, and oil and gas form the basis of the economy; there are two massive grain handling facilities; and numerous oil pump jacks, gas wells, and battery sites dot the landscape. Wind power is another energy resource that is being developed in the Gull Lake area.

David McLennan