Fairly Lake and the Swinging Bridge
In 1902, the Canadian Pacific Railway dammed Adair Creek to create a water supply for its operations (i.e. steam locomotives), and the area became ideal for settlers. The dam soon became known as Fairly Lake and in 1905, the first swinging bridge was built across it at a cost of $300. The bridge was blown down in 1954, but it was rebuilt in 1964. That bridge was blown down again in 1991, and in 2004 the 100 metre bridge was rebuilt at a cost of $250,000. It is still standing today and is crossed over 50,000 times each year.
Wolseley Town Hall/Opera House
Nestled in the heart of downtown on the corner of Richmond and Varennes, the Town Hall/Opera House is one of Wolseley’s most famous attractions. Built at a turn of the century as a Town Hall, Fire Brigade, and Opera House, this attraction was restored in the early 1990’s. It serves as an illustrious gathering place for weddings, socials, and numerous other community events.
The Wolseley Town Hall/Opera House is one of Saskatchewan’s last remaining turn of the century designed, small town, multi-purpose public buildings. The original Town Hall plans provided room for a council chamber, the Mechanics Institute (the library), a fire hall, a jail cell, and above all, an auditorium. The auditorium was usually called the “Opera House.”
The building was in continuous use from 1907 until structural problems forced closure to the public in 1989. Some aspects of its use never changed during that time frame; for instance, it was always home to the fire brigade and the library.
The east side double doors take you to what once served as the home of the fire brigade. Horse drawn equipment included a pump, chemical engine, ladder wagon and hose reel. In those days the Fire Hall had doors at the east and west end as horses did not back up that well. This section of the building stored a modern fire truck right up to 1989 . At that time, the purchase of another new truck meant the brigade simply outgrew its home after eighty years. In recognition of fire brigade history, the Fire Hall sign above the east door was left in place.
Wolseley Courthouse Rehabilitation Project
Built in 1894, the Wolseley Courthouse has served many purposes. Though originally conceived as a Courthouse – the oldest territorial one in Western Canada – it has also been a North West Mounted Police jail, a boy’s detention home, and part of Lakeside Nursing Home. The Courthouse has not been used for legal court duties since its closure in 1909.
In 2013-14, the Wolseley Heritage Foundation had prepared The Wolseley Courthouse Civic Re-Use Project. This project was approved by Council at the March 5, 2014 Regular Council Meeting in motion 73/14 stating the following:
“HILL/HILDERMAN Council moves that the Wolseley Courthouse Civic Re-Use Project be adopted as presented in the Wolseley Heritage Foundation’s proposal; contingent upon the acceptance of the same document by the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan. CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.”
On March 13, 2014, the Ministry of Central Services invited the community to a formal program to celebrate the official sale and restoration plans for the Wolseley Courthouse.
For more information, please click the following links:
Wolseley Courthouse and Heritage Foundation by Dennis Fjestad
Cabinet Minister Transfers Courthouse to Town by Stephen Scriver
Restoration Planned for the Wolseley Courthouse by Megan Wolfinger, Government of Saskatchewan
Government of Saskatchewan Website
Downtown Wolseley and the Perley Block
Wolseley’s downtown is the heart of the town. Home to many of Wolseley’s major businesses, and only seconds away from the historic swinging bridge, Town Hall/Opera House, and Courthouse, this is the place for both visitors and locals to see. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of shopping, it is worth the time to see the Perley Block and Leland Hotel on Sherbrooke Street, and the Front Street block between Richmond and Sherbrooke.
While the facades of these buildings have changed over the years, they still echo Wolseley’s past. The Leland Hotel is still in operation at its current location, and has been since 1923. The Perley Block was erected in 1906 after a fire destroyed the entire block in 1905. While none of the original businesses are still in operation in the Perley Block today, it still serves as an invaluable building to the community. The upper floor has been converted into modern apartments, while the main floor consists of Western Financial Group, Philippe Antique, Tilli-Beans Coffee Shop & Bakery and other commercial spaces.
Across the street, and on Front Street, a similar story can be told. Head First Beauty Salon and the Canada Cafe on Sherbrooke, Weber Insurance & Investment, TD Canada Trust, and Horizon Credit Union on Front Street, are present within renovated versions of the original buildings.