The community of Leask shone the weekend of June 29 to July 1 as it hosted its centennial celebrations with over 1,100 guests registered and another estimated 400 non-registered in attendance for the weekend.
Motor homes, campers and trailers converged on the small community to partake in the reunion and activities that were strategically planned and located throughout the community. Registrants came from Australia, Switzerland, several American states and many points across Canada and Saskatchewan to be re-united with family and friends.
Visitors were greeted to a series of yellow ribbons tied around tree trunks, pillars and posts. The concept was similar to the song lyrics of “tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” to welcome visitors returning for the weekend. The proceeds from the ribbon sales went to offset some of the event costs.
Festivities scheduled to kick off the weekend included the unveiling of murals and musical entertainment by Saskia and Darrel.
The unveiling of the murals created by Doreen Kalmakoff occurred Friday evening. The three four by eight murals depict the wooden grain elevators that once stood marking the landscape identifying the community. The third mural was of the CN station honouring the pioneers’ mode of transportation for both people and supplies.
The project was initiated by Judy Boyer who attended one of the first centennial committee meetings to share her vision of a pioneer park. This initiated the formation of the Leask Historical Committee and soon local artist Kalmakoff was commissioned to paint the outdoor murals.
“It was a unique project to undertake,” commented Kalmakoff who takes artistic challenges with ease.
Years ago these towering landmarks were taken for granted and unfortunately not many were photographed so the experienced artist found herself working from aerial shots.
Unfortunately, Boyer passed away in March 2012 and as a tribute to her vision, the Leask Historical Committee agreed to continue with the legacy. Future plans will include the installation of benches and eight more murals, four on each side. This full spread mural scene will accurately resemble Main Street Leask within the 100-year span.
“The fact that the committee continued with the project is a clear indication of the commitment and community spirit that lives in a small community,” commented Kalmakoff. Elmer Boyer, Judy’s husband, assisted with the unveiling of the murals, which were mounted onto four by four inch steel poles that were installed four feet into the ground. The depth will prevent the heaving due to frost in the winter.
During Friday and Saturday, memorabilia, pictures and souvenirs were available for viewing at the Legion Hall. Other activities available included astro jumps and face painting for children, car show and artisan displays, flea market, ball hockey and lawn games. Author John Christensen was in attendance promoting his novel, The 13th Rope, a moving and compelling story of a fight for survival.
A Leask centennial committee created a time capsule currently taking the form of a deacon’s bench. Individuals have until Dec. 31, 2012 to contribute an envelope to the time capsule before it is sealed. The time capsule will be opened on July 1, 2025.
Saturday’s parade consisted of over 80 entries ranging from decorated bicycles and vintage vehicles and tractors to marching bands and floats of local businesses and organizations. Leading the parade on horseback were Boyd Donohue carrying the Saskatchewan flag, Alex Budan carrying the Leask centennial flag and Allan Kohlman carrying the Canada flag. The parade was a pictorial display of how agricultural practices have changed over the century. From horse to tractors on steel up to the massive combines, trax tractors and semi-trailer units of today.
The remainder of the day included a car show, musical entertainment, horseshoe and bocce games, astro jump and face painting for the children, with the day concluding with a banquet and dance. The banquet supper saw 512 guests served over a course of two seatings.
Sunday began with a pancake breakfast followed by an ecumenical service. A dedication ceremony was held at the corner of third avenue and second street north declaring the official name change of second street north to Dr. Duncan Drive.
The project was the brainchild of Doreen Wudrick who inspired council in the need to honour the first doctor who served Leask and area.
“It was a means of reflecting on the past and honouring the people who influenced our village and area,” commented Wudrick explaining how her enthusiasm was shared with village council once she presented the history. Mayor Maurice Stieb recommended purchasing two signs, one for each end of the street.
Dr. James Duncan came to Leask 101 years ago. He was the oldest of 10 children. He moved onto Mistawasis First Nation in 1911 as a young doctor as the Indian Affairs physician. In 1913, he was appointed as medical health officer and moved into the community of Leask where he operated a drugstore and office on Main Street. His area extended to Green Lake and during the First World War his boundaries extended into Prince Albert and North Battleford. His means of transportation included horse and buggy, dog team, canoe and eventually vehicle.
“In his 42 years as doctor serving the area, Dr. Duncan delivered 1,000 babies,” read Wudrick sharing that Dr Duncan was a kind and caring man who continued to provide doctor services until his death in 1948 at the age of 76 years. It is only appropriate to rename the street from second street north to Dr Duncan Drive because it shows great respect for his memory.
Ross Duncan, one of two grandsons remaining, shared memories of his grandfather. Ross brought the old patient ledger and he commented how interesting it is to browse through the pages of the many patients.
“Everyone contributes to the success of a village like this,” commented Ross.
A sod turning ceremony took place by the Leask Fire Hall for the Butler Library project. Percy Butler was born in Leask in 1926. He attended Leask School and always held a fond connection to the community. The family donated $50,000 towards the construction of the proposed museum and library building. According to Mayor Stieb, the building will be 1,980 square feet and completed in a number of phases. The first phase will consist of the groundwork scheduled to commence in autumn.
“Life has been good to me and I, in turn, want to share my good fortune with others, namely my former community,” commented Butler, explaining his intent is to also do something to honour his family.
A scholarship program was also initiated at the Leask Community School by the Duncan family where a donation of $10,000 was made towards the implementation of a five-year art program. The program is designed to encourage and enhance the artistic talent of the students.
“There are many talented students that never have an opportunity to develop their skills,” commented Butler, who was an academic scholar crediting his education to Leask School and community.
The jaws of life demonstration by the Leask volunteer fire department captured the attention of many spectators as firefighters assessed the scene of a theoretical accident, blocked the car, removed the victim and proceeded to removed the doors and the roof of the vehicle.
Leask most definitely had an amazing display of fireworks. Some donations and a grant for the remainder provided a display of lights and sounds that left the viewers in awe. It was a spectacular way to end the weekend.