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La Ronge

Northern town, pop 2,727, located near the geographical centre of the province, 237 km N of Prince Albert on Hwy 2 at the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. La Ronge is located on the west shore of scenic Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan’s fourth largest lake, which encompasses over 1,300 islands. La Ronge is the largest community in northern Saskatchewan, and along with the neighbouring northern village of Air Ronge and the First Nations communities of the Lac la Ronge Indian Band, the total area population numbers several thousand. La Ronge is a major service and transportation centre for the northern part of the province. Originally inhabited by Cree, the area began to see the incursions of fur traders in the latter 1700s. Numerous competing posts were operated intermittently on the lake throughout the 1800s. In the 1850s some activity began to be centred at what is now known as Stanley Mission as Reverend Robert Hunt oversaw the construction of Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the Hudson’s Bay Company established a post at the site. The church at Stanley Mission is now Saskatchewan's oldest standing building. In the early 1900s, trading posts, an Anglican church and an associated residential school were built where the community of La Ronge now sits. Parents usually spent the winters working traplines and returned to the settlement in summer where they grew gardens and fished. In 1911, postal service was established. In the 1930s, La Ronge began to develop as a fly-in fishing resort and after the road was built from Prince Albert in 1947-48 tourism expanded. About the same time the provincial government introduced resource management and Conservation officers to the area. Local government came to the community in 1955 when La Ronge gained village status with a population of around 400. Over the following decades the community grew rapidly, reaching a population of 933 by 1966 and almost doubling that a decade later, in 1976, with a population of 1,714. In 1983, La Ronge was proclaimed a northern town. La Ronge today is a base of governmental, institutional, industrial, and commercial activity and its business sector provides a wide range of goods and services. The economy is based on tourism, forestry, Mining, commercial fishing, trapping, fur trading, dried meat products, mushroom and berry picking, and the Wild Rice Industry. Lac La Ronge Provincial Park has an international reputation as a wilderness paradise; the park encompasses the lake, Precambrian Shield, boreal forest, and muskeg, and there are more than 30 documented canoe routes in the area.

David McLennan

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