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Town, pop 292, located approximately 110 km S of Regina, midway between Weyburn and Assiniboia on Hwy 13. The district began to be settled between 1906 and 1908. Settlers to the area came from eastern Canada, some regions of Europe, and the United States. The Ogema post office was opened in 1910, and in 1911 the railway came through. In January 1915, a fire destroyed the east side of Ogema’s Main Street, and although firewalls were an uncommon and costly proposition at the time, town councillors decided that to ensure against future disasters they would construct across the west side of the street a wall that was 70 feet long, 28 feet high, and sunk 8 feet into the ground. On the east side, a fire hall was built with one of its walls constructed to act as the opposite firewall. This unique pair of structures remain features of Ogema’s Main Street to this day; interestingly, the contractor who built them was Robert John Lecky, who had been the construction superintendent during the erection of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. Ogema prospered through the 1920s, witnessed an exodus during the 1930s, and saw a return to prosperity and growth during the post-World War II period. It was a typical Saskatchewan community with an economy based on mixed farming and ranching. By the 1980s, however, rationalization and consolidation led to a massive loss of infrastructure, and Ogema, which had developed as a hub for the surrounding communities in terms of providing basic services, was rapidly overshadowed by the larger centres of Weyburn, Assiniboia, and Regina. In response, community leaders in Ogema and other area communities sought initiatives and partnerships, and advanced the concept of a regional economy. In 1999, members of various communities completed negotiations to purchase the CPR branch line that ran from Pangman to Assiniboia, and Red Coat Road and Rail became the first community-owned short line in the province. Community leaders also enticed Big Sky Farms to establish a 5,000 sow farrow-to-finish hog operation in the Ogema area, the first of that size in Canada. The result has been a significant degree of success in building a sustainable future. In recent years, the Saskatchewan Government’s Action Committee on the Rural Economy (ACRE) named Ogema a model community in terms of contemporary economic development strategies for rural Saskatchewan. The Deep South Pioneer Museum, situated on a 12-acre site, is one of the largest in the province and contains a complete townsite comprised of over 50 historic buildings; the site has been used for the production of films. Ogema also has a well-preserved British American service station, which is thought to date to the World War I era, and a 1911 CPR train station situated at the end of Main Street.

David McLennan

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