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Wood Mountain

The last grain elevator in Wood Mountain. Unused, it dates to the late 1920s.
David McLennan

Village, pop 40, located SW of Assiniboia near the junction of Hwys 18 and 358. The Wood Mountain Plateau consists of flat-topped hills cut by treed coulees, rising some 400 metres above the surrounding plains. In the 1800s, Red River Métis established wintering camps in the area, calling it Montagne de Bois (Mountain of Wood) for the abundance of poplar trees in the otherwise barren region. After 1870 and the uprising at Red River, Métis families settled permanently in the area, and during the decade the Hudson’s Bay Company and later the NWMP established posts south of the present village. The International Boundary Commission used the area for a supply depot early in the decade. The police pursued whisky traders and horse thieves in the region, and from 1876 to 1881 they monitored the over 5,000 Sioux and their leader, Sitting Bull, who had sought refuge in Canada after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Large-scale ranching began in the district in the 1880s but by 1908 the unfenced rangeland was gradually being given over to homesteaders. In 1917, the Saskatchewan Provincial Police force was created and the contract with the RNWMP was terminated, resulting in the closing of the Mounties’ post at Wood Mountain in 1918. With the arrival of the CPR in 1928 the present Wood Mountain townsite developed, and on March 4, 1930, the village of Wood Mountain was incorporated. The community has never been particularly large; the population was 127 in 1931, and until the mid-1960s Wood Mountain averaged about 120 residents. Subsequently, however, the village began to decline, facing school closure, elevator closure, and rail line abandonment in the 1990s. Despite its small size, Wood Mountain remains an active community. A horticultural society maintains the regional park south of the community where an interpretive museum has been established. Near the park, the NWMP post has been partially restored and there is a hill-top monument dedicated to Sitting Bull. The site is also the location of Canada’s oldest continually running rodeo, which, as of the summer of 2005, will have been running for 115 years.

David McLennan

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