Q: “Excuse me, how do I get from Flin Flon to Creighton?”
A: “Go south to the end of Main Street, Manitoba then go to the end of Main Street, Saskatchewan then proceed to the Creighton Freeway.”
I wonder how many people took those directions to heart and ended up at either Beaver Lake or Smeaton, all the while looking for what they thought would be multi-lane freeway?
History has it that the Town of Creighton was named after prospector Tom Creighton who, along with trapper David Collins, discovered the massive Flin Flon ore strike. The settlement of what is now Creighton actually began back in the early 1930s when a few souls drifted along the right-of-way that would eventually lead to Beaver Lake where they set up squatter’s rights along the roadway. Getting there, pre-freeway days, required driving to the end of South Main Street and taking a hard right at the HBM&S ore train trestle (now dismantled) and then proceed past the South Main shaft. That winding road would pass by the entrance to the Flin Flon lake-bottom golf course – and then to the roadside house area known as Beaver Lake Road.
If you didn’t have a vehicle and couldn’t “bum a ride,” you’d take Shanks’ Pony (walk) along the shortcut path at the border (Cardell’s Flin Flon Motors), walk down the hill on the Company Road and then do the cut across at the south end of the open pit. This would lead you to the aforementioned road just north of South Main shaft.
The squatters’ settlement population along Beaver Lake Road remained fairly static up until the end of the Second World War in 1945. At this time, hundreds of veterans returned to the HBM&S workforce with many deciding to set up their homestead in Saskatchewan. This rush of settlers required planning authorities in Regina to lay out the town site in 1948 (site unseen, as it were). Being accustomed to planning on the prairies, the planners were not aware of the “rock and roll” of the Precambrian Shield, thus the original plans had to be revised to suit the rocky and boggy terrain.
The settlement grew and it soon became evident that incorporation was due. The Village of Creighton officially came into being in 1952, followed by town status in 1957.
Despite being the smaller community and highly dependent on the Flin Flon mining operation for employment, Creighton residents established a sense of identity unto themselves as a Saskatchewan town. The town operates on Manitoba time, but has its own elected mayor and council, administration and services staff and provides all the necessary services for its citizens from fire protection to garbage pickup. There is an active business community, an RCMP detachment and the telephone service is Saskatchewan-based.
Plus, one will find strong support of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Progress has been made on many fronts over the years. In the early days of the Beaver Lake Road settlement and then Creighton, school-age children attended elementary classes at Flin Flon’s Main School. Grades eight to 12 students attended Hudson and Hapnot Schools located high on the hill at Hiawatha Street in Flin Flon. Creighton’s first four-room elementary school was constructed in 1950. That school grew with the community, whose present 1450 residents are proud of their Creighton Community School that offers classes from elementary to Grade 12 with a total population of around 450 students.
A significant event in Creighton’s history was the opening of Highway 106 (the Hanson Lake Road) in 1965 which created easier access to communities and services in Saskatchewan and Western Canada – and vice versa. The recent loss of STC bus service on this route was a blow to the community, as well as the settlements to the south.
Creighton residents enjoy a full range of recreational and cultural services, a museum and business services – plus they have the advantage of proximity to Denare Beach resort at Beaver Lake and the business, recreational and health amenities in the City of Flin Flon.
Today, the reality of change faces the community with Flin Flon’s mining operation on the verge of shutting down. Because of this, and as is done in the north, the spirit of cooperation between Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach is working to ensure social and economic stability into the future.
Enjoy your drive on the Creighton Freeway. Have a laugh at northern humour. Hey, life is a freeway – whether it’s a freeway or not.