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Town, pop 914, located 30 km E of the Saskatchewan-Alberta border at the junction of Hwys 21 and 32. Only a few ranchers were in the area when it was opened up to homesteaders, who began arriving in large numbers in 1907. Most were Germans from southern Russia. The German population was so significant that at least until the mid-1930s one of the qualifications for working in the local RM office was the ability to speak the language. In 1913 the railway arrived, and in September that year the village of Prussia (Leader’s original name) was incorporated, another in the string of communities that grew up along the “Empress Line” as it progressed northwestward toward Alberta from west of Swift Current. World War I prompted some in the community to suggest that such a strong German name for the town was inappropriate. Deliberations took place, and on November 1, 1917, the name Prussia was changed to Leader. At the same time, the town’s original German street and avenue names were changed to numbers. After World War II Leader’s population skyrocketed, reaching a high of 1,236 in 1966. Today, Leader’s several dozen business establishments provide a wide range of goods and services for a trading area which includes at least three rural municipalities. Many of the town’s businesses operate in support of the region’s grain and cattle industries; the Great Sandhills Terminal just east of town is a major grain handling facility. The Leader region is dotted with numerous points of interest. Leader has Saskatchewan’s first and only reptile zoo. The nearby Estuary Hutterite Colony offers tours of varied local ecosystems, ranging from the riparian woodlands of the South Saskatchewan River Valley to the Great Sand Hills. The region supports an abundance of wildlife, including mule and white-tailed deer, Pronghorn antelope, and over 200 species of birds during spring and fall migrations. As a tribute to the regions’ fauna, the community has erected a number of larger-than-life wildlife sculptures throughout the town.

David McLennan

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provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
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