RM OF VISCOUNT HISTORY
(from Footprints of Time Volume I, by Anthony Dennis, 1985)
How does one condense 75 years into a short history? After looking at the stacks of books containing the minutes, I decided to go right through the resolutions and motions and choose those which were interesting or unusual or those which would give an idea of the evolution of local government. Omitted are hundreds of motions regarding roads, ditches, stones and bush on allowances, machinery and operations, diversions, right-of-way, etc. Left out are those pertaining to the old Tax Sales, Farm Creditors Arrangement Act and Tax Enforcement Act. Not mentioned are matters concerning relief and welfare and loans to ratepayers. Also not mentioned are deferments and compassionate leaves of absence to some you sons of farmers during the war. Not included are the long, tedious hours spent on reviewing the hospital and medical bills under the municipal medical scheme. Included are unusual and interesting motions, ones that show a comparison of past and present and some that show the development of such areas as health of humans and animals, pest and weed control, etc. I hope the items included will bring back memories to the older residents and help the younger ones to understand the past and appreciate the work of those who served on the councils throughout the years.
LOCAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT #17-T-2
Before the municipality was formed the Local Improvement District #17-T-2 operated as a government for a short time.
The first meeting was held April 2 in the home of S. Turbett, the members of the council being C. Koob, J. Koob, A. Henry and H. Severn. J. Koob was appointed chairman and J. Meen secretary. The only motion passed was that each occupant of land was required to do two days roadwork or in lieu make payment of $4.00.
June 1 – it was moved that the secretary be paid $20.00 per township (4 townships) and that each councillor appoint his own pathmaster (?). Also noted was that roadwork was to be done from July 1-15.
July 11 – J. Meen resigned as secretary and J. A. Platt was appointed. Roadwork was extended to Aug. 1, 1907, Poundkeepers were appointed.
Sept. 24 – J.A. Platt had to go to Winnipeg on account of serious illness and A. Allan was appointed Acting Secretary.
Dec. 31 – Balance at the end of the year was $180.40. A. Allan was allowed $40.00 for his services and councillors were paid $2.00 per meeting, plus mileage.
Jan. 13 – Councillors elected were S.K. Turbett, John Koss, C.C. Udell and J. Koob.
Feb. 1 – Petitioned government to build road between Viscount and Bruno. Taxes fixed at 5cents an acre to include Supplementary Revenue Tax.
Feb. 20 – Seed grain offered by Government to settlers.
July 11 – Weed inspector appointed.
Jan. 25 – Councillors J.S. Meen, Geo. Lucas, Lewis Larrowe and J. Koob. Meetings set for last Monday of March, May, July, September and December.
May 31 – Two townships to the south were added and recommendations for forming a rural municipality.
Nov. 1 – Last meeting of Local Improvement District 17-T-2 was held.
RURAL MUNCIIPALITY OF VISCOUNT #341
Dec. 22 – The first meeting of the Rural Municipality of Viscount #341 was held with H. Mastre as first reeve and C.A. Shannon as first secretary.
Feb. 8 – Hawkers and Pedlars Lisence Bylaw passed – rates as follows – Man on foot and pack $15, Man and 1 horse $30, Man and team $50 per year.
Mar. 8 – C.A. Shannon appointed to assess Hamlet of Plunkett.
June 7 – Council paid $14.00 for use of office.
Sept. 6 – Bought Lot 3 Block 2 in Village of Viscount from Goyette, Tallon and Co. with building for $700 and made arrangements to buy furniture for office.
Oct. 4 – Bought a steel vault door (still in use) and decided to build a stone wall under office and a vault 6’x6’x6’ with cement floor.
Jan. 2 – Leased the office to Village of Viscount for $36.00 for meetings providing that Village not tax the R.M. for village or schools.
Feb. 6 – Rented upper storey of Boyle Building for $150.00 a year and to furnish with two beds, stove and fuel as a maternity hospital run by Dr. Dick.
Apr. 2 – Dr. Dick appointed Health Officer at $25.00 a year.
Dec. 3 – secretary instructed to dispose of the hospital equipment.
May 5 – Dr. C. P. Johns appointed Health Officer at $25.00 per year.
June 1 – A motion to have the trees removed off that portion of road between sec. 30 and 31-34-26 through W. Northgraves land and replanted and that the body be removed from the grave and placed in cemetery. Hamlet of Plunkett given $150 for improvement purposes.
May 3 – Dr. Johns met council re: Outbreak of diphtheria in R.M.
Aug. 2 – A grant of $20.00 from each division of R.M. to Viscount Hotel to provide a reading room, payable Jan. 1, 1916. A letter written to Hon. Water Scott asking for a portion of the $10 or $15 charged for auto taxes (licenses?) to help keep up the roads.
Feb. 7 – A tax of 1 mill was levied for the Patriotic Fund.
Sept. 4 – A bylaw: re Joining with other Municipalities for Hail Insurance purposes read for the first time.
Nov. 6 – Motion to exempt all parties enlisted for overseas service and owning property and residing in the R.M. from taxes from time of enlistment or for the years 1915 and 1916.
Apr. 2 – First mention about forming a Consolidated School District.
June 1 – Mill rate set at 6 mills. About this time many surveys for main roads and also many resolutions regarding changes to school district boundaries.
Nov. 4 – A motion to close all churches, schools and places of amusement until Spanish Influenza outbreak passed and also that two nurses be paid for assisting in caring for Spanish Influenza cases.
Dec. 16 – Rev. Smith spoke to council on Consolidated School districts and a note the council was in favor.
June 7 – A grant of $150.00 to the Agricultural Society providing they hold an exhibition. Interesting to note that the R.M. was receiving Auto grants from the Provincial Government.
May 19 – A special meeting was held to deal with the best way to combat a very severe grasshopper infestation. Mr. Boyd Department of Agriculture present.
June 5 – Special meeting on eradicating Sow Thistle. Municipality ordered 50 rolls of tarpaper to cover the weeds and so eradicate.
July 6 – A delegation asked for support of a Provincial Beer Store and received it.
Mar. 7 – Donated $100.00 towards building a community hall in Meacham.
Aug. 1 – Considered hiring a municipal doctor.
Dec. 5 – A bylaw allowing municipality to engage services of a municipal doctor read first and second time.
Dec. 19 – Ratepayers voted overwhelmingly against above bylaw and it was not read the third time.
June 4 – Requested Government to form a Pure Bred Sires area excluding rams and boars.
Feb. 4 – Granted $150.00 towards site and building of a livery barn, to be kept open all winter and for at least 5 years. This was done because the old livery barn was closed and caused inconvenience.
May 6 – 15 barrels of Weed Cop weed killer (liquid) and Altacide was brought from Fairview Chem. Co. to be resold to ratepayers at cost.
June 3 – $300.00 given towards building Plunkett Memorial Hall.
Oct. 6 – A bylaw empowering municipality to hire a municipal doctor re-introduced.
Dec. 1 – The above bylaw was approved by ratepayers and was read a third time and passed.
May 4 – Hard times. Applications for seed grain, groceries, etc. were being received.
Aug. 3 – Resolution asking Provincial Government to declare a moratorium on collections and interest for 2 years or as long as the depression lasts.
Oct. 5 – After correspondence with Departments of Education and Municipal Affairs suggestion was brought up to close all schools as no financial assistance was available.
Feb. 5 – Dr. Daymond engaged as municipal doctor.
Dec. 3 – Bylaw for municipally financed hospital scheme and major operations done by doctors under agreement read third time and passed.
Sept. 8 – Council protested the pegging of price of wheat at 84½ cents per bushel and recommended not less that $1.15.
June 6 – Pure Bred Sires Area established.
Aug. 1 – Advised Ducks Unlimited that there were practically no ducks in the municipality.
Feb. & Mar. – Discussions on equine encephalomyelitis.
May 1 – Council to approach R.M. Osborne and Village of Manitou Beach re: A permanent crossing across the sand bar east end of Manitou Lake.
Nov. 10 – Dr. Daymond resigned and Dr. Baker engaged as municipal doctor.
June 3 – Secretary of Watrous Legion interviewed council re: Subversive fifth element in our community and asked for appointment of people to report suspicious cases
Mar. 3 – Resolved to buy $16 saving certificates each month and also to support resolution by R.M.’s to purchase Mobile Kitchen Unit for war sufferers in Great Britain.
May 4 – Advanced current levy to Badger School Division to enable them to move newly purchased school building as old one was condemned.
Jan. 1 – Rates for roadwork set as follows: Man and 4 horse team $0.80/hr; Single man $0.40/hr; Man and 2 horses $0.65/hr; Foreman $0.50/hr
Apr. 3 – Asked that members of council be given a better rating on gas rationing.
June 5 – That we co-operate with the Department of Agriculture in Wheat Acreage Reduction program.
Aug. 7 – Affiliated with slate Hospital and Medical League.
Sept. 2 – Kienlen Bros. Interviewed: Re Grading machinery Operation. Donated $400.00 to Kamsack Relief Fund (cyclone – Of special interest to writer as he was one of a group of Canora residents who went to Kamsack to help in boarding up buildings an cleaning up).
Dec. 25 – Dr. W.P. Johns engaged as municipal doctor.
Mar. 5 – Lindskog house bought and rented to secretary.
June 2 – A brief presented opposing larger municipal units.
Sept. 7 – Secretary authorized to perform the registration as required by the Health Services Planning Commission.
1948 – 1951
Grasshopper infestation again. Much spreading of bait.
Sept. 3 – Council urged the black topping of #2 highway to Prince Albert to join all weather road to Prince Albert National Park.
Feb. 4 – Bought F. Tetu house for municipal doctor’s residence and office and engage Dr. J.C. Hindson of Lanigan as municipal doctor.
June 7 – Committee set up to investigate construction of a new office and cost of reconstructing old office.
Spring – Very extreme flooding damage to roads. 253 grades under water, another 10 damaged.
Apr. 7 – Reviewed grid road map and amended extensively. Could not start construction on account of heavy flooding.
Began grid road building at $0.23 per cubic yard.
Annual meeting plans for 50th Anniversary for RM in 1960.
Apr. 4 – Committee formed to look into matter of purchasing lots and costs of a new office building.
June 6 – Four lots bought for office site.
July 4 – Application to local Government Board for permission to spend $15,000 on new office.
Apr 2 – Tender of Shoquist Construction to build office accepted.
Celebrated 50th Anniversary of municipality and official opening of new office.
1960 – 1962
Still strong opposition to Council system of Government for municipalities.
Medicare in operation. A load off the municipality.
Still fighting grasshoppers.
July 4 – Extensive wind damage in municipality.
Aug. 1 – Joined with Villages of Viscount and Plunkett in a Jubilee Centennial committee.
Dec. 10 – Bylaw passed to join Wheatland Regional Library.
Aug. 12 – Letters written to Board of Transport Commissioners and C.P.R. pretesting the closing of Viscount and Plunkett stations.
Apr. 14 – Motion made to look into purchase of a fire truck
May 12 – Preparation under way for R.M. 60th Anniversary.
June 12 – Signed agreement with Manitou Lodge Nursing Home Board and bought 1400 shares at $1.00 each.
Dec. 11 – Purchased 200 shares at $1.00 each from Parkland Central Lodge (Lanigan).
Dec. 13 – Agreed to Provincial takeover of grid south of Plunkett as Highway #365.
July 12 – Talks to be held with R.M.’s of Morris and Colonsay to form Super Grid Maintenance Area.
Dec. 12 – Bylaw passed to join R.M.’s of Blucher and Colonsay, Towns of Allan and Colonsay, and Villages of Bradwell and Elstow to provide road Ambulance service.
June 10 – Bylaw forming corporation to control super grid surfacing, construction and maintenance with R.M.s of Lost River and Morris.
Sept. – Talk of opening recreation resort at Viscount Beach north side of Little Manitou Lake.
So we have developed – from pathmasters to super grid roads; from municipal doctors to local medicare to Provincial Health System; from tar paper and hand pulling of weeds to modern weed and pest control, etc. Now instead of horse drawn vehicles for hauling a few bushels of grain we see large sei trailers; instead of the old telephone system to a Sask Tel; and electrification of farms and now a gas distribution system to the rural areas and on and on. From a reading room in the hotel we now have a library to be proud of; from the old scrapers we have advanced to large heavy equipment. The list could go on.
What do we miss from the “good old days”? The general rings through the local telephone exchange? Meting the passenger train to see who got on and who go off? Everyone has some little bit of nostalgia to remember.
(from Footprints of Time Volume II, by Patrick Clavelle, 2005)
The following history is compiled from information gleaned from the minute book as well as recollections of council members and myself. I would like to start by doing a few then and now scenarios to show how things have evolved over the past 20+ years:
- In 1983 we traded the last manual typewriter for a used Kirby vacuum and purchased an electronic typewriter. But it was not long until computers were the way to go. So we computerized the office in 1988, it was amazing, calculating the tax roll levies was a 120 hour procedure by hand, the new computer did it in 6 hours, and the tower we recently purchased will do the job in 6 seconds.
- In 1983 the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture hosted seminars around the province on farm income tax, fertilizer application, chemical application, new seeding methods and soil salinity. Today the fertilizer, chemical and machinery companies host their own demo and information days, and for most, the income tax is left with the accountant.
- In 1983 the R.M. levied a hospital tax for Lanigan, Humboldt and Watrous Hospitals and contributed to nursing home deficits in nearby towns. Today the Regional Health Districts handle everything, and they too have deficits.
- In 1986 lending institutions owned title to 59 quarters of land in the R.M. of Viscount. Today, there is not a quarter of land in the R.M. of Viscount titled to a lending institution.
- In 1983 the school tax on a parcel of land was slightly less than the municipal tax. Today the school tax is roughly double that of the municipal tax.
On to the actual history:
Scrap vehicle retention site established in the R.M. to assemble derelict vehicles for crushing. R.M. called on to help pay Manitou Lodge deficit.
The R.M. was approached by the Viscount History Book Committee to help finance the 1985 history book and by the Wakaw Regional Park for funding to upgrade the Minatinas Ski Hill. Both requests were denied. We sold the Viscount Beach property taken through tax enforcement to Peter Cails whose intention was to develop the land into resort properties and sell lots. We were informed by the Ag Reps office that Ergot, Glumbloch, and Orange Blossom Wheat Midge could be a problem for farmers this year. More underground natural gas lines to rural properties. R.M. reviewed a proposal from SARM to have education tax removed from property. Researched new Fire Department communication equipment. Signed a mutual aid fire agreement with Central Canada Potash and raised the minimum callout charge for a fire from $250 to $500. We sent a letter opposing variable freight rates. The R.M. sold ag chemicals, coveralls, rubber gloves and respirators and constructed a used chemical can container site on the NE-24-34-26. Not a great year in agriculture, applied to Department of Agriculture to have R.M. declared a severe drought area. Bored 3 community wells. The July meeting had to be changed because the Administrator got married.
Sodium Sulphite discovered in alkali flats north of Viscount. Letter of support sent to the CRTC for a new TV channel (now we have 3 channels and the French one). R.M. received reports of flooded grades on some land access roads and SaskTel completed their last underground phone line project in the R.M. Purchased a 40’x60’ Zipperloc Steel building to store municipal equipment and supplied and had it erected next to the municipal office. Dana Radar Base closed down and discussions were held in neighbouring communities about the possibility of converting the Base into a senior citizens complex. The R.M. looked in the cost of a new coloured R.M. map and SARM decided to hold a fall mini convention in addition to the regular spring convention. Ratepayers were asking to have loan access roads widened as equipment is getting bigger.
Rabies reported in the area with skunks being the major carriers. All municipal road allowances were sprayed by airplane for grasshoppers and the R.M. purchased a Ditch Swather. We erected a 32’x48’ wooden arch rib building to use as a municipal work shop, and the Morris School was declared as a Municipal Heritage Property.
R.M. sent letters of protest to Canada Post for their campaign to close rural post offices. A Rural Crime Watch Area was formed and the R.M. contributed to the Child Find program. The R.M. office received a facelift with the addition of a new peaked roof. R.M.s were encouraged to promote industry in the area.
The R.M. joined the Saskatchewan Central Rural Development Corporation with the hopes of attracting industry to the area. Another drought year, cattle producers in the R.M. receive $55.00 per head for breeding stock under the Can/Sask Livestock Drought Assistance program and Open Heard Law was declared in Divisions 1 to 5 because of the drought.
Snow plow clubs notified that they must use flashing aner lights instead of blue. R.M. being asked to consider taking over maintenance of rural cemeteries. Ducks Unlimited erecting nesting baskets to encourage nesting and survival of ducklings as the duck population is at an all time low. A low temperature alarm is installed in the Fire Hall, and scheduled oil sampling is started on municipal machinery to detect early failure of components. Chemical sales shed now registered as Hazardous Materials Storage Area. R.M. contributes $6,000 to the Viscount School of the Future towards the adult learning component of new school. R.M. takes part in the Plan a Tree for Life ceremony where a White Spruce tree was planted by the Viscount Village Office to show respect for the unborn. Permanent Cover and Save Our Soils programs offered farmers funding for planning grass or trees to reduce erosion or seed down marginal land.
Chemical collection day where farmers could turn in unused and unwanted ag chemicals. Penalty rate on arrears of taxes set at 15% per annum. R.M. purchased a gravel pit near Sclanders and 15,000 shares in the Manitou Springs Hotel. R.M. grounds receive a facelift, paving stones laid, grass and trees planted, underground lawn sprinklers installed and office water line moved so it did not enter the office through the vault. Underground power project south of Viscount. Council authorizes issue of Community Bond Shares in the R.M. to fund expansion of the Golden Hill Cattle Company feedlot. Provincial Government funding for Rat Control Program.
Rural underground gas projects being proposed. Another petition to keep our rural Post Offices. Cost shared community well project near the Central Canada Potash Mine with the R.M. of Colonsay.
A.D.D. Board promoting use of Noble Blade and Zero Till Drill to reduce soil erosion. Dissolved the Little Manitou Maintenance Area as paving of rural roads is not happening. Scentless Chamomile a major problem for producers in south end of R.M. Installed new furnace and air conditioner in municipal office after a minor explosion of the old one. Rural underground power to the north end of R.M., grid roads to be punched not plowed. Withdrew membership in the Sask. Central Rural Development Corp.
R.M. appointed an Emergency Measures Coordinator to plan for and oversee operations in a crisis situation. We opted out of the Provincial road ban program. Oil recycling program started, and a marketing club formed by area producers started up. The R.M. turned over their shares in Manitou Lodge to the Living Sky Health District.
The R.M. no longer selling agricultural chemicals. We moved our bank account to Saskatoon with the closure of the Royal Bank in Viscount and then later in the year transferred our account to the Colonsay Credit Union who had established themselves in Viscount. All R.M. employees enrolled in a short term disability insurance program and cell phones were purchased for the graders. First Responder program is started by the Health Districts. Allan Kirzinger is taken on as an Administrative Trainee in the office. R.M. issued permits for snaring of coyotes and rural underground power is installed south of Plunkett.
Federal Gun Control introduced whereby everyone must register their guns. Carla Whitehead to work in office under Viscount Central School’s work education program. Purchased a cell phone for the Fire Tuck and built a joint venture Fire Hall with the Village of Viscount. We established the Yard of the Year award for R.M. area residents. Built a portable outhouse for the road construction crew. Pocket gophers are a problem.
Carla Prestupa training in office. Health and dental insurance offered to municipal employees through SARM. Started purchasing office stationary and printing from Freelance Prepress Graphics of Colonsay. Kevin Whitehead to work in R.M. Office under the VCS Work Education Program.
FleetNet radios provided to the Viscount First Responders by the Central Plains Health District. R.M. using plastic posts for road signs. Chemical can collection site at Sclanders closed as dealer collection takes over. We purchased a quick response Rescue Unit / Fire Truck equipped with a foam suppression system. The R.M. for the 1st time purchased a 4-H Steer from the Viscount Beef Club at the Saskatoon Show and Sale. R.M. office equipped with telephone answering machine.
The old orange curtains have left the building. They were replaced with vertical venetian blinds, much easier to look at. R.M. made a donation of $5,000 to the new Bowling Alley in the Community Centre. We also refurbished all the old School District and Cemetery markers in the R.M. The Provincial Government decided to numerically classify the R.M. roads, but everyone still calls them Grid or Main Farm Access roads. The R.M. is urged to support a school tax revolt and is asked to consider amalgamating with the Village of Viscount. Both were refused. We purchased waiting room furniture for the new doctor’s office in Viscount and signed up with the REACT Waste Management District Authority for disposal of garbage starting in 2001.
R.M. now being charged a yearly levy for RCMP protection. The R.M. joined with neighbouring R.M.s in offering a reward for information leading to conviction of road sign vandals.
A brief was prepared and submitted to the Task Force on Municipal Legislative Renewal opposing larger municipal units (amalgamation). R.M. attended a 911 information meeting and signed up to participate in an area wide telecommunications program in preparation for 911. We joined the Central Area Transportation Planning Committee and signed up with the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS). Three quarters of land in the R.M. were sold by Sheriff’s sale. The R.M. is now supplying firefighting service to a protion of the R.M. of Wolverine. Purchased 2 Caterpillar graders in one deal after selling one of our graders to Alberta.
New Federal Government cattle identification program is launched We bored a new well at the Plunkett community well site. The R.M. hired Med-Com to dispatch emergency fire and rescue crews within the municipality. The R.M. petitioned Sask. Ag and Food to be declared a disaster area due to drought. We established a Scentless Chamomile committee between Sask. Ag and Food, Farmers affected by the weed, an Ag chemical company and the R>M. to work on control of this noxious weed. We took on Brad Thoms as a work education student from Viscount Central School. The R.M. made donations toward an automated external defibrillator for the Viscount First Responders and a new ambulance for Watrous and we joined the Ag Health and Safety Network. The liquid Strychnine, which has been used by farms for gopher control for years, is now a thing of the past.
New Regional Health Districts in the Province. The Land Titles offices changed their name to Information Services of Sask. and are in the process of converting all paper land titles into cyber land titles. Smoking is banned in all municipal buildings. A province wide gopher derby is setup by the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation. The R.M. held a community information meeting on pork production. A new community well is developed on the NE-19-36-25-W2. Some municipal road allowances were sprayed with chemical to kill unwanted trees.
The R.M. office receives new front and back doors and the windows are reconditioned. A new photocopier is purchased for the office. R.M. agrees to loan the 2005 History Book Committee up to $20,000, interest free, to finance the new book. We are now using GPS (Global Positioning System) to mark and log gravel test holes and problem weed spots within the R.M. The R.M. spread Eco-Bran bait on municipal road allowances in problem areas to kill grasshoppers. We purchased a 40 acre gravel pit on the SE-04-34-25-W2 from Fred Scott and developed a new community well on the NW-36-35-26-W2. Sylvia Anderson is taken on as an Administrative Trainee in the office. Mad Cow disease devastates the R.M. producers as cattle prices hit rock bottom and feed grain prices fall. The R.M. supports SARM in their quest to change school finance from a property tax more so to an income tax. William Welter is nominated for the Lieutenant Governors Award for some forty years of service to the R.M. as Councillor and Reeve.
The R.M. nominated Firemen Gordon Gress and Brian Desmarais for the Government of Saskatchewan’s “25” Year Protective Services Medal. A new computer is purchased for the office and a donation is made to the Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers.
2005 – Present