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St. Walburg

Town, pop 672, located in NW Saskatchewan, approximately 90 km NE of Lloydminster and 130 km NW of North Battleford on Hwy 26 just NE of the crossroads of Hwys 3 and 21. To the north lies the Bronson Provincial Forest and to the east lie the popular resort and vacation destinations of Brightsand and Turtle Lakes. Settlement of the area began in the early 1900s. The community is named for the wife of the first postmaster, but also to honour St. Walburga, an 8th century English nun educated by the Benedictines, who was canonized for a life dedicated to evangelical work among the German people. In 1921, the rail line to St. Walburg was completed and in 1922 the community was incorporated as a village. By this time, St. Walburg had a substantial population of people of German origin among English, Scottish, Irish, French, and Scandinavian homesteaders. In 1939 a number of Sudeten Germans who had been vocally opposed to Adolph Hitler came to the area, having fled Czechoslovakia. St. Walburg’s early economy was fairly diverse. While farming and ranching were developing to become the main industries, fish, fur, and railroad ties were exported from the area in addition to agricultural products. For two decades district sawmills supplied ties for the province’s expanding railways. Additionally, local history illuminates that a significant underground industry in the manufacture of home brew augmented many a farmer’s income. On February 1, 1953, St. Walburg attained town status and, in the early 1980s, the community had a peak population of just over 800. Today, the area economy is based upon cattle and grain production, as well as an oil and gas sector that has been continually expanding over the past couple of decades. Tourism continues to be a factor as regional resort areas develop. St. Walburg is the main centre in the region and has in excess of 65 businesses providing a range of goods and services. A key area attraction is the former studio and home of Count Berthold Von Imhoff, located a short distance from the town. In 1998, the town honoured this famous artist with the installation of a life-sized bronze statue created by another renowned local artist, Susan Velder. Other works by Velder include a bust of T.C. Douglas at Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building and a statue of Queen Elizabeth II riding her favourite horse, Burmese, which was commissioned in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

David McLennan

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