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Town, pop 465, located approximately 90 km NW of North Battleford at the junction of Hwys 3, 26, and 303. The first settlers began entering the district in 1907–08. The community is situated in proximity to what was once a ford of the Turtlelake River and the name Turtleford was coined by the community’s first postmaster, John Bloom. The post office opened in 1913 and train service into Turtleford began in 1914. By the spring of 1915, dozens of places of business had been established including four general stores, a drug store, two livery and feed stables, and two lumber yards. The railroad brought an increasing number of settlers to the district and, over the following decades, the once heavily forested area was cleared and the agricultural production of the region steadily increased. Turtleford became the main supply and service centre for the surrounding farming population. The agricultural output of the district largely consists of cattle and grain. Somewhat ironically, as the land was cleared of the forest, the Turtleford town council of 1931 saw the need to beautify the community and handed out to residents maple, Russian poplar, and elm trees to plant, many of which are still standing today. Some logging activity continues in the region to the north of Turtleford. In the 1960s, resort communities began developing at the nearby Brightsand and Turtle Lakes and the town continues to benefit from a growing seasonal tourist industry. Today, the summer population in the area is estimated to reach between 4,000 and 5,000. In 1983, Turtleford attained town status and, to commemorate the event, an enormous turtle sculpture was constructed at the town’s tourist information centre, and now “Ernie” is billed as Canada’s largest turtle. Over the past 20 years, the development of the Oil and Gas Industry has come to be significantly important to the Turtleford economy. Several businesses providing oilfield services have developed and the industry provides much off-farm employment. The Turtleford town office is situated in the former 1920 Bank of Commerce building, now a heritage property. The community’s premier annual event is the Turtleford Agricultural Fair held at the beginning of August. The event is considered one of the best country fairs in Canada, and in 2005 the 89th annual fair was held.

David McLennan

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