In 1913 the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) came to Lafleche. In 1937 after eight consecutive crop failures, the once prosperous Lafleche district was near rock bottom. In dire need of credit, farmers and small businessmen found the bank and other financial institutions had no confidence in their ability to repay. Within a year the people of Lafleche launched the first rural community credit union in the province. Lafleche Credit Union received its charter on April 19, 1938. In 1956 sewer and water lines were installed. In 1972 with the result of 237 to 37 in favor of building a new rink, on March 9, 1972 Lafleche started construction on a new rink, with donations of $28,539.40 from citizens, $3,500.00 from the TM, a federal grant of $35,907.25, a provincial grant of $41,923.32 and the town borrowing $5,000.00 for a final building cost of approximately $165,000.00. The official opening was held on February 25, 1973. On the July long weekend, 2013, Lafleche celebrated its Centennial – 100 years of Awesome.
The arrival of squatters from 1905 to 1907, followed by the arrival of homesteaders in 1908, caused for a central point for trading and to attract newcomers. A village started to form, one and one half miles east of the present townsite. The village was called Buffalo Head. This name was changed in honour of a famous missionary of the Northwest who later became bishop of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Louis-François Richer Laflèche.
The first known Catholic priest of Lafleche was Father Alphonse Lemieux, parish priest of Willow Bunch. Then the names of Father Gravel and Father Royer appear. Father J. A. Magnan, parish priest of Gravelbourg, attended to the religious services from 1908 to 1912.
The first pioneer to come was Ferdinand Marasse from Portneuf, Quebec. In 1906 he built the first house in which also mass was celebrated for the first time by Father Magnan, April 5, 1908.
Among some of the first businesses were a post office headed by Postmaster Tom Murphy, a barber, Dick Metcalf, a grocery store and other necessities from Groulx and Lizee store or A.N. Bourassa and Son Store, financial issues were brought to H.R. Forfar, who was the first manager of the Bank of Toronto, repairs and purchases of wagons, binders, and plows were done at Massey Harris or International. Ben Lloyd was the blacksmith, and there was even a pool hall called Denny Murphy’s Pool Hall. William Grieg opened the first butcher shop in Lafleche.
Building a school was also important to the citizens of Lafleche. In 1910 a school district was formed and a school was built at the corner of four townships on a quarter of land owned by Mr. Belisle.
In March 1912, there was already a hamlet set on a piece of land owned by F. X. Brunelle. There were a bank, two stores, blacksmith shops, a school district and a school house. The schoolhouse was built on the corner of four townships on a quarter of land that was the property of M. Belisle. In 1912, the railway was built to Expanse, then in the fall as far as Assiniboia. When the CPR line came through, in 1913, lots were divided and businesses in no time opened their shops. Since the rail line did not pass through the hamlet, the houses of the hamlet were moved to the new site on the southeast quarter of Section 2, Township 9, Range 5, and soon another village with spacious streets and avenues sprung up and developed rapidly. The streets and avenues were given meaningful names such as Montcalm, Cartier, Papiniau, Brunelle, Frontenac, Laurier, La Salle, and Champlain.
By 1913 there was the following businesses, Square Deal Store, Harness, Palace Livery, Beaver Lumber, Coal, Lafleche Cafe, Murphy’s Pool Hall, Metropole Hotel, The Western Trading Co., Lafleche Meat Market, City Dray, City Garage, City Restaurant and Bakery, Glenholm Farm, Chopping, The Lafleche Blacksmith.
Growth was so rapid that a petition was made so that Lafleche be incorporated as a village. The original signers of the petitions were:
- Wm Begin
- Tom Murphy
- Arthur Brunelle
- Hubert Brooks
- D.J. Toland
- J. Bourke
- T.H. Bourassa
- John Dengler
- Louis Renville
- Jos. Delgatty
- George Lonsbury
- Henri DuChesne
- Chas. Brunelle
- Royden E. Greig
- C.R. Racine
- Oscar Ball
The Village of Lafleche applied for Town status on June 1, 1953 because of the ever growing population. Lafleche became a town with C.P. Dewulf as the first mayor.
In 1954 vapor lights were installed for the town by Saskatchewan Power Corporation and in 1956 the town received water and sewer in it. The sewer main construction began in 1957. A big event was in June, 1958 when the Town Water Sewer Plant was officially opened.
In 1960 a piece of land was bought for the purpose of a landing strip for light airplanes. In 1961 Saskatchewan Government Telephone constructed a new dial office and telephone. Water meters were installed in residences and business places. Automatic telephones came in operation on July 5, 1962.
In November, 1961 a curling rink with three sheets of ice came into operation.
As a tribute to Saskatchewan’s 60th anniversary the town of Lafleche built self-contained housing units for senior citizens. The Wood River Centennial Home was opened on July 8, 1967.
In 1969, streets were paved in Lafleche. 1971 was the Homecoming Celebration. 1973 saw the opening of a new skating rink. On October 24, 1977, the Wheatland Lodge was opened as an eighteen suite, senior citizen low rental housing building.
From 1909 until the railway came, mail was delivered to Lafleche by horse and buggy or sleigh from different points on the main line. However, once the railway was built, mail came regularly. Mail was sorted on the train as it went along. Mail was taken aboard and dropped off at each stop all across Canada. Tom Murphy was the first postman in Lafleche, and held the position until July 26, 1912. Mr. Edmond Bilodeau became postmaster in 1927, a held the position for twenty seven years. He retired on April 25, 1955. On July 31, 1958 the train service was discontinued and mail trucks took over the business of mail service to Lafleche and surrounding towns.
Following the arrival of the railway in 1913, construction of grain elevators came about. The first elevator was built in 1912 by M.B. Lyttle. The capacity of elevators built at this time was 25,000 to 35, 000 bushel capacity. Some of the first grain elevator businesses in Lafleche were: Shepard Grain Company, Saskatchewan Co-op Elevator Company which were both built in 1914. In 1915 the Shepard Company sold to Alberta Pacific Grain Company. In 1916 the Lafleche Meleval’s Farmer’s Elevator Company, McCabe Brothers Elevator Company and the Imperial Elevator Company were built. Some of these elevators did not last around too long and others changed hands many times.
The Lafleche Flour Mill was built in 1914 by Paul Bourdy. The mill was operated for a few years, then operations were suspended until 1920. In 1921, Fred Anderson rented the mill. He was soon joined by E. Olsen. Mr. Olsen became the manager and hired Herb Husband to run the mill at night and later hired Jim Clark. During the winter the mill ran day and night for five months. The flour went to retailers and bakers around Lafleche. In the late 30’s mill work became limited and by 1940, only custom grinding was done. Operations stopped in 1941, when the owners moved away. In 1952 the building was bought and converted into a seed cleaning plan. This operation kept going until 1974, when the owner died and operations ceased. It was sold in a public auction, dismantled and removed from the site.
The Bank of Hochelaga was established in 1920 until 1924. Though not in operation for very long, it gave the townspeople excitement, when an attempted robbery occurred on May 24, 1922. On March 13, 1924 it was reported that the Lafleche Branch of the Bank of Hochelaga would be closed and accounts would be transferred to the Bank of Hochelaga in Gravelbourg. The closing of the Lafleche branch corresponded with changes that were occurring in Montreal at the time.
The Bank of Toronto began doing business in 1913. In 1955 the name was changed to Toronto-Dominion when the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank amalgamated. H.R. Forfar was the first manager of the bank in 1913 and held the position until 1914.
In 1937, after eight consecutive crop failures, Lafleche’s district was hitting a financial low. Banks did not have faith in farmers and small businesses to repay loans, so a few local residents explored the idea of a credit union. On April 19, 1938, charter No. 12 was granted to the Lafleche Credit Union Limited which then became the first rural community credit union in the province. Starting with assets valued at $52.50 and twelve members, the company grew to have $10, 994 assets and about two hundred members after the first year. In 1948, there was 1087 members and assets reaches $518,000. This helped put the Lafleche district back in prosperity. The Lafleche Credit Union Limited is also known for having granted the first credit union loan for the purchase of farm land. In 1954, the Fir Mountain Savings and Credit Union amalgamated with the Lafleche Credit Union and in 1971 Glentworth Credit Union amalgamated too. A branch office is maintained in Glentworth.
Al Charbonneau, an early employee of the credit union, went on to a distinguished career, first as manager of the Saskatchewan Credit Union League in 1959, and later as CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions from 1981-1993. One credit union historian states that “[p]artly because he came from a francophone background in Canada, Charbonneau had a deep understanding of the cultural dimensions of credit unionism. … He would provide considerable leadership in expanding the linguistic capabilities of the World Council and in expanding contacts with European movements.”
In 1922, a power plant was operated by Zotique Raiche to operate lights in the Village of Lafleche. It was called the Lafleche Light Company and was powered by a 50 H.P. engine. It operated from dark until eleven o’clock, Monday and Tuesday mornings and also by special arrangements for dances. The first street lights were installed in 1923. In 1933, only two street lights were left in operation due to the depression. In September [1936, a request for more street lights was requested by Lafleche. The total cost of running eight lights was $15.00 per month. In 1947, it was bought out by Saskatchewan Power Commission. In 1949 the voltage of the town was increased from 2300 volts to 4600 volts.