Year in Review 2019: What occurred in the Estevan area from September-December

Fall came to southeast Saskatchewan with mixed weather, where -20 C nights were followed by 15 C days. The Energy City remained busy all the way through fall and into Christmas with the community showing incredible generosity when it came to supporting non-profits, in turn helping people in the area. Some big announcements also came in at the end of the year. Here is an overview of news from September-December:


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September opened another education chapter for thousands of students in southeast Saskatchewan. This year the enrolment appeared to be stable compared to South East Cornerstone Public School Division’s projections. The Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division saw a slight increase in enrolment.

Midale’s Jeffrey Newton was reported missing on Sept. 5. He vanished in the Banff, Alta., area. He was found deceased on Sept. 21. on Abraham Mountain west of Nordegg Alberta in Clearwater County.

 The Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan grand opening celebration was held on Sept. 5. Payton Sernick, an 11-year-old Estevan resident who is a two-time survivor of Stage 4 acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was invited to the festivities because she was the hospital’s 2018 champion child. She was joined by her family.

The Richard Carriere Memorial Bike Ride that had participants going from Alida to Moosomin, to Kenosee, to Oxbow and then to Carnduff, where a supper was served to about a hundred people on Sept. 7. It raised money for Southeast Search and Rescue.

On Sept. 10, the Estevan RCMP received a report of a missing 48-year-old man, Darcy Vatamaniuck, from Bienfait. He was last heard from on Aug. 22. Fortunately, he was found safe Oct. 10.

Bishop Robert Hardwick was in Estevan on Sept. 8 to participate in the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of St. Giles Anglican Church.

The Salvation Army started a new program for seniors on Sept. 11. The Senior Souper Lunch is now served twice a month, and as the name suggests, it provides guests 55 and over with soup and salad, along with some entertainment at a more than affordable price.

Construction started on Habitat for Humanity’s second home in Estevan. They hoped to be completed before the end of the year.

The Forever in the Clouds Monument has found its permanent home. The monument, which pays tribute to the 20 airmen and one groundscrewman who died in an airplane crash at the former Estevan Airport site south of the city on Sept. 15, 1946, is now located at the current Estevan Regional Airport site. The decision was announced during the ceremony at the airport, marking the 73rd anniversary of the crash.

The City of Estevan received $518,000 in federal funding for one of the Economic Development Board’s initiatives aimed at helping entrepreneurs in Estevan with startups and their existing businesses. This grant was directed towards the establishment of a business incubator.

A CP Rail employee was struck by a train at Estevan yard on Sept 20. He was transported to the hospital in Regina. On Sept. 22, a GoFundMe campaign named Struck by Train Ryan Campbell CP Rail Conductor was started. It raised $13,300, eclipsing its $10,000 goal.

The Estevan Church of Christ celebrated its 100th anniversary Sept. 20-22. About 200 people attended the centennial festivities at the church and other locations in the community.

Missoula Children’s Theatre auditions were once again a big challenge and a big attraction for young talents. The play, Peter and Wendy, was performed on Sept. 21 at the Souris Valley Theatre's Frehlick Hall.

The 33rd annual Homespun Craft Show & Sale was held on Sept. 21 and 22 at the Carlyle Sports Arena. The event attracted thousands of people and was a big hit with the public.

Troy LeBlanc shaved off his 14-year-old beard in front of the crowd at the Estevan Comprehensive School’s cafetorium. LeBlanc, who is the ECS fireman/caretaker, said he had to get rid of the facial hair for training, but having such a beard as his, he decided to turn this into an attraction and a fundraiser. The funds raised were directed to Shriners transportation fund, to be used to help cover the travel expenses of children from Saskatchewan who go to the Shriners hospital in Montreal.

The obstetrics unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital received a significant financial injection. The Kinsmen Telemiracle Foundation handed over a cheque for $77,510 to the hospital’s foundation on Sept. 24.

One person was charged with multiple offences, including firing at a police vehicle, at an incident in Carnduff. It happened on Sept. 26.



McComb Auto invited their customers to join them in celebration of 50 years of serving the community. Even though the barbecue and birthday cakes were a great attraction, most guests made sure that they could make it to McComb on Oct. 1 to congratulate the Senchuk family that established and has been operating the successful business for 50 years.

The provincial government announced that the construction of passing lanes on Highway 39 between Estevan and Weyburn was moving forward. The contract to build new passing lanes on Highway 39 between Estevan and Weyburn was awarded to the CoCo Group, which has a location in Langenburg. Work is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2021.

A female pedestrian was killed in Stoughton after being hit by a semi-trailer unit. Members of the Weyburn RCMP were called to the scene of the accident at a gas station.

Susan Colbow, who has been a big part of the Estevan Kinettes Club since she joined the service group in 2002, received a life membership from the club – the highest honour a Kinettes club can provide.

The first 12 Southeast Saskatchewan Search and Rescue (SESK SAR) volunteers received their basic searcher certificates following a training session.

The City of Estevan celebrated a pair of project milestones with a switching ceremony on Oct. 2 at the water treatment plant. The ceremony marked switching from one pond to the other as part of the residuals management project.

Members of the Unifor union at Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations went on the picket line Oct. 4. Estevan strikers were a part of 5,000 of Unifor members picketing across the province. Agreements were reached with different Crown Corporation later in the fall.

Popular country musician Chris Henderson, who is a former Estevan resident, released a new CD called Point of View during a party at Art Concepts Custom Framing on Oct. 5.

The Estevan Fire Rescue Service gave the public a look at its inner workings on Oct. 9 during an open house at the fire hall as part of Fire Prevention Week.

Estevan area residents had the opportunity to hear from most of the local candidates who were running in the federal election in Souris-Moose Mountain during a candidates’ forum on Oct. 10 at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch.

The 12th annual Creative Tables for Cancer at Prairie Place Hall in Arcola was held on Oct. 17, raising funds for the Look Good, Feel Better program devoted to helping women going through or having completed cancer treatments. Approximately 400 people attended this year and a couple of the tables were being hosted by men.

The Estevan Art Gallery and Museum had a pair of short-term artists in residence, who were furthering their practice while reaching out to people in the community. Ruth Langwieser and Sarah Timewell started their residency on Oct. 9 and continued until Oct. 25. Each split their time between community events, meeting with aspiring local artists and working on their own projects.

The Estevan Model Engineering Show on Oct. 19 attracted engineers, inventors and hobby admirers from all across North America. Some of them came to share their projects, others were seeking ideas and advice from like-minded people, and some came to see the exhibits and enjoy the event.

The United Way Estevan’s 43rd annual Telethon was one for the record books. The 33-hour fundraiser went off the air at 5 p.m. Oct. 19 with $377,152 in donations, thanks to the support from people in the community. Proceeds from the telethon were directed towards the United Way’s 15 member agencies and its community partners.

The coal car that has been located at the corner of Fourth Street and Souris Avenue South was taken in for repairs on Oct. 23.

Sacred Heart School/École Sacré Coeur, which is part of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division, celebrated its 60th anniversary on Oct. 24 with a community event that attracted about 200 people.

Police were alerted Oct. 24 to a suspicious package located near the railway tracks on King Street, close to Chinook Bay. The bag was found by a citizen who thought it was unusual to see such a package in the area, so the individual called the police. Later it was announced that the substances were ecstasy and methamphetamine.

A CP train engine caught on fire on Oct. 25 while at the Southland Pulse inland terminal west of Estevan. No one was injured as a result of the incident.

Outstanding accomplishments in Estevan’s business community were saluted Oct. 25 during the fifth biennial Estevan Business Excellence Awards, presented by the Estevan Chamber of Commerce. Murray GM won the Business of the Year Award, while Josh LeBlanc took home the Business Leader of the Year recognition. Garry Hirsch of Hirsch Holdings Ltd. was inducted into the Estevan Business Hall of Fame that night as well.

The Southern Plains Co-op’s Trail of Terror was held on Oct. 26 at the Preddy Trails inside Woodlawn Regional Park. People met up at Rotary Hall inside the park and then embarked on a journey that had plenty of creepers, props and other scary sights.

A Kisbey resident won a provincial heritage award for his efforts to restore an old stone house that is part of his family’s history. Richard Krehbiel was recognized with a Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Physical Heritage Conservation Award in the architecture category for the Smithfield Heritage Restoration Project.

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Estevan celebrated its centennial on Oct. 27 with a special service, fellowship, food and plenty of reminiscing. With the theme of 100 Years of Blessing, a crowd of 100 people attended the festivities.

John Johnson, who started Johnson Plumbing and Heating in 1967 and was a big part of the community, passed away Oct. 30 at St. Joseph's Hospital at the age of 84.

Estevan’s police chief was recognized for his commitment to law enforcement that has spanned more than a quarter century. Paul Ladouceur was invested as a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces on Oct. 31 during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Glen Peterson Construction drew to a close after 80 years in business on Oct. 31 with a dispersal auction of the company’s equipment and its land, conducted by Ritchie Bros. The company had been a big part of the community for many years.

As of Oct. 31, Estevan has experienced the largest decrease in housing prices of anywhere in the southern part of Saskatchewan. That data came from the Composite Housing Price Index produced by the Association of Regina Realtors.



A detailed world of adults’ childhood hobby was opened up to the Estevan community for one day. For the fourth time, the Saskatchewan Lego Users Group (SLUG) brought its Brickery show to the Energy City on Nov. 2.

SaskPower’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility at the Boundary Dam Power Station reached another milestone on Nov. 4. The facility eclipsed more than three million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equivalent to taking 750,000 vehicles off the road.

A grand opening celebration for a new group home, operated by Estevan Diversified Services, was held on Nov. 8. The new home provides an improved living situation for several people with disabilities, three of whom are former residents of the now-closed Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw.

Remembrance Day continued to be an important time for people in the Estevan area.  Hundreds of people gathered at the Estevan Comprehensive School’s gymnasium on Nov. 11 for the annual Remembrance Day service hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch.

Estevan Military Museum had its grand opening on Remembrance Day as well. The museum is spread out over two locations: the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch and the home of museum founder Craig Bird. It boasts a variety of military artifacts and displays, some of which date back to the late 19th century. Most items are from Bird’s collection.

The local Christmas shopping season opened with the Estevan Kinettes’ Christmas Marketplace on Nov. 16. The traditional craft market – with a Christmas twist and special features like flying minions, wooden flowers, sparkling tattoos and much more – attracted hundreds of people.

St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s seventh annual Festival of Trees held at Affinity Place on Nov. 16 once again proved to be a big success with record support. Thousands of people attended various events put together and sponsored by Estevan businesses and organizations.

Five people were arrested on Nov. 14 in Estevan as part of a drug bust. Members of the Estevan Police Service’s Drug and Intelligence Unit, in partnership with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit Saskatchewan and local RCMP and uniformed members of the EPS, executed search warrants at three residences and two businesses in Estevan. No charges have yet to be laid.

Three persons were transported to hospital after a three semi-truck collision on Nov. 21 one kilometre east of the Bienfait turnoff.

A concert featuring The Offspring and SUM 41was held at Affinity Place Nov. 23. A large crowd attended the show, with the majority of the fans were on the floor of the arena. There weren’t any floor seats for this particular concert, which allowed fans to stand and dance, jump up and down, mosh and even crowd surf.

The Operation Christmas Child campaign in the Estevan area exceeded its goal for this year. They collected 1,102 shoeboxes this year, well above the 1,000 containers they hoped to gather.

The Oxbow community had an exciting start to the Christmas season. The celebrations started on Nov. 28 with the traditional Christmas in Oxbow activities.

Southeast artists of all types brought their beautiful pieces to the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum on Nov. 30 so the public could enhance their holiday season this year with something special. Homemade for the Holidays Christmas market had everything from ceramic earrings and bracelets with lava stones, to gentle lanterns and home décor, to furniture and photos.

About 400 people attended the Bienfait Lions Club’s dinner theatre performances at the end of November and the beginning of December.  For this year, director Paula Lainton chose the Drinking Habits play, and the performance turned to be a big hit.

After a few years of hiatus, the McClement family got back in the paving business. Doug and Jacqueline McClement, and their children Logan, Sebastian and Brie, have bought back the family business, Souris Valley Paving, after having sold it to a large multinational company in 2012. They fired up again on Nov. 29 with a new name, GenCo Asphalt Inc. A grand opening ceremony was held in December.



The annual Dickens Village Festival in Carlyle was held Dec. 6-8. and had something for everyone. The annual celebration saw Carlyle transformed into a village from the Victorian age, like the one depicted in Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol.

The Madsen family’s orange cat Ginger went missing early in the fall but in an unlikely twist, the family and Ginger were reunited after two months apart, and Ginger was back at the home.

An Estevan man was acquitted in connection with a fatal 2015 collision in downtown Estevan. Dmytro (Metro) Ignatiuk had been charged with one count each of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the accident, which occurred at a midblock crossing in the 1200-block of Fourth Street in October 2015.

The St. Joseph’s Healthcare Auxiliary once again surprised the St. Joseph’s Hospital with a big donation going towards the hospital’s long-term care facility. Members of the auxiliary presented a cheque for $70,000 to the hospital on Dec. 4 during the auxiliary’s annual Christmas tea and bake sale.

Santa and Mayor Roy Ludwig were equally popular among those who gathered in front of City Hall during the Moonlight Madness shopping event on Dec. 5 for the Christmas tree lighting.

The Estevan Police Service held three Youth Nights in November and December, inviting Estevan youths to come to play some sports side by side with police officers and EPS staff. Events were held at the Estevan Church of God’s gymnasium.

Jason LeBlanc conducted a Ritchie Bros. auction for the last time Dec. 5 in Saskatoon, thus bringing an end to his 30-year career as a travelling auctioneer.  There was a large crowd, and many of them were there to offer him their fondest wishes as he closes this chapter of his life. A reception was held after the Dec. 5 auction.

A beloved educator and lay minister who found many ways to serve in the Estevan area, has died. Douglas Joseph Third passed away on Dec. 6 at the age of 91.

The sounds of beautiful Christmas music echoed throughout the sanctuary of St. Paul’s United Church in Estevan on Dec. 7. Saskatchewan’s Southeast Chorus and North Dakota’s Northwest Chorus and Orchestra presented their 49th annual Celebration of Christmas music.

Estevan’s economic development co-ordinator Dwight (Fitz) Bramble returned from Vietnam, where he was promoting the community and trying to attract investment. He was in the Asian country from Dec. 1-10, where he attended the TechFest trade show in Halong from Dec. 2-4.

A little baby female moose that was found abandoned just outside of Lampman in May 2018 received a second chance and was happily released back to the wild in December, thanks to dedicated volunteers with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan.

The Estevan community received a Christmas spirit boost at the Woodlawn Regional Park with Christmas at the Park on Dec. 15. The event attracted hundreds of people and everyone could find some festive and fun activities to try.

The same day, the Rotary Club of Estevan hosted the 67th annual Christmas Carol Festival at St. Paul’s United Church. Many people came to enjoy the beautiful live music that filled the building that night.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train made it to Estevan on Dec. 16. Despite being cold enough, it didn’t stop the hundreds of kids, parents, and even older folks who came out to frolic in the snow.

The people of Estevan once again showed their support for others in the community, dropping off food to fill the hampers for the Estevan Salvation Army’s Food Bank, donating toys for the Community Hamper Association’s Angel Tree and bringing pyjamas for the Kinnete Club’s PJ Pyjamas project through various initiatives, including the Estevan Mercury’s Cash for Christmas promotion. Many local businesses helped to collect donations throughout a few weeks in December. The Community Hamper Association was able to once again meet the needs of the community at Christmas this year, and a total of 312 hampers were filled this year, which is about 50 more than they filled a year ago.

Ron Areshenkoff, one of the people who played an instrumental role in the fundraising for Affinity Place in Estevan, and was involved in other aspects of the community, died on Dec. 15 in Grand Forks, B.C.

Estevan schools held their Christmas concerts for the community during the final days before the start of Christmas holidays on Dec. 20.

With help from the community, Warm Welcome Kitchen overcame the difficulties and was able to continue on with serving warm suppers twice a week. A Christmas Eve community supper, prepared and served by Peter Sereggela, happened on Dec. 24 at St. Giles Anglican Church.

The Lampman Community Theatre was back once again and the guests had a chance to enjoy a hilarious play, Poker Nights at the Legion, written by Lampman’s Maureen Ulrich. Almost 250 people enjoyed the fast-paced, fun-loving performance in a good company.

Oxbow Prairie Horizons School kids shared the Christmas spirit with the Canadian Forces. After the class learned about the armed forces in Canada, Grade 7 social studies teacher Rayanne Freitag offered her students the chance to write letters to soldiers to make their Christmas brighter. And 22 kids were happy to give it a try.

It was announced that the Estevan Fair and the Estevan Rodeo will be held on the same weekend in 2020 for the first time in more than 20 years. The Estevan Fair will be held on June 4-7, while the rodeo will be June 6 and 7. With other events that will be happening in the Energy City that weekend, it promises to be one of the busiest weekends of the year in Estevan.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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