Bounty, SK

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Source: Google Earth

Bounty is an unincorporated hamlet in Fertile Valley No. 285 Saskatchewan, Canada. The population was 18 at the 1996 Census. Bounty, like so many other communities throughout Saskatchewan, has struggled to maintain a sturdy population causing it to become a semi ghost town. Prior to November 25, 1997, Bounty was a village, but it was restructured as a hamlet on that date. Demographics: In 1996 Bounty had a population of 18 living in 6 dwellings, a -35.7% decrease from 1991. The village had a land area of 1.68 km² (0.6 sq mi)

Source: http://www.ghosttownpix.com/sask/towns/bounty.shtml

Every Saturday night in Bounty, folks braced themselves for rip-roaring action at the community hall. They came early, knowing a crowd of more than 200 people would jam the renowned hall for the weekend dance.

It was a weekly tradition to see the cloud of dust hanging over Main Street on Saturday evenings as scores of eager young adults drove into town to break loose. When the Bounty Bluebirds Band started playing, an echo of revelry flowed out onto the street, spreading throughout the town.

Outside the hall beside the front steps, a cook at the hot dog stand worked feverishly to meet the increasing demand of hungry dancers who came out for fresh air, to have a smoke, or to settle a score over a girl.

As the evening rolled along towards midnight, the traditional lunch was served. Outside, the hog dog stand still did a brisk business but the exodus of Saturday night revelers had begun. Before long, the cloud of dust that hung over Main Street for hours would settle. Another Saturday night dance at the Bounty Hall was over. The hall was cleaned up, prepared for another community event during the week. The following Saturday, the town prepared itself once again for another hell-raising evening of music, dance and wild times.

The community hall was the social focal point of Bounty, a tiny community 85 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon, and 25 kilometres northwest of Outlook. From 1930 onward, it was the central venue for every major event in the community, including summer fairs, movies, Christmas concerts and of course the Saturday evening dances.

The village never had a population of more than 200 souls but Bounty was always considered a land and place of promise since the first settlers arrived in 1904. When the town site was first surveyed in the fall of 1910, the early settlers were awed by the spectacular rows of swaying orange-blossomed tiger lilies blanketing the prairie fields. Botany was chosen as the new community's name but a mistake on the town site blueprints listed the moniker as Bounty, and the error was never amended.

Bounty prospered quickly and within two years boasted 19 businesses. It was considered the "boom years" for the village, especially with the arrival of regular train service in 1912. Along with the usual stores and services, Bounty's quick growth also witnessed the opening of two banks, three grain elevators, a three-story, 24-room hotel, and a newspaper called the Fertile Valley Echo. Locals pursued sports and recreational pursuits to accompany its dreams of prosperity. As early as 1911, Bounty had a professional baseball team that played in the Rosetown, Bounty and Outlook circuit while curling became the town's wintertime passion.

But Bounty folks especially loved their music, and the town became famous for its dance orchestras, which included the Bounty Bluebirds, and the Fertile Valley Band.

In 1930, the village constructed its fabulous new community hall, which would accommodate well over 200 people for major events. The new hall, built by volunteers with solid fir, was more than 25 metres long by 10 metres wide. It was originally constructed as a theatre and had acoustical ceilings sloped on both sides. The main floor was made from maple hardwood, and at the far end was a stage measuring six metres deep, eight metres wide and three-metres high. Dressing rooms were built on either side of the stage. In the basement, groups practiced for musicals and built sets for Christmas plays.

More than 70 years later into the 21st century, Bounty's community hall has fallen silent as the community is slowly fading into oblivion. All commercial services are gone, and only a half a dozen residents remain.

On November, 25, 1997, Bounty was dissolved as an incorporated village to become a hamlet under the jurisdiction of the Rural Municipality of Fertile Valley.

There are still the occasional visitors to Bounty, but as each year passes there are fewer and fewer reminders of the community's past glory days. Vandals, neglect and the elements are leveling Bounty's past. Each year, at least one more abandoned building is toppled. But in 1997, there was a brief rally by former residents to ensure Bounty was never forgotten.

Although the 85-year-old brick school at the south-end of Main Street was long closed, locals and past residents were adamant the 24-inch cast iron bell, lodged in an open four-sided bell house on top of a five-metre high tower, should be saved.

The bell was brought back to Edmonton by former resident Gary Lewis, who was born in the area in 1939, and raised on a farm 10 kilometres south of town. Lewis had the bell restored; sandblasted and re-painted.

He then had a memorial plaque made up, and the bell was taken back to Bounty. In 2000, it was placed permanently at the front entrance of the Fertile Valley Cemetery.

On July 15, 2000, more than 400 locals and former residents held a re-union and a dedication ceremony for the school bell at the Bounty Hall. It was a Saturday, and of course there was a rip-roaring dance just like in the old days. The original Bounty Blue Birds came, and played, as did the 1953 Bounty School Band and the Dallas Orchestra.

For the past five years, Lewis has spearheaded a committee to look into ways to save the Bounty Community Hall, one of the last remaining institutions in the former village. The rural municipality has given the committee permission to preserve the building. Applications have been made to the provincial government for heritage preservation funding. More dances have been held to raise money. There has been interest from Saskatoon, North Battleford, Hitchcock Bay and Outlook to have the community hall moved to those locations. Outlook is considered the most preferable because it is the closest community to Bounty.

"I am sad that it has to leave its present location but everyone realizes, including me, that if the community hall stays where it is, it could get burned down, destroyed or fall down by itself someday," says Gary. "It was the hub of the town."

As another sun sets in Bounty, the gaily wrapped sounds of music, laughter and the chiming of a school bell can be heard on the distant breeze, heralding another time past but not forgotten.

Location

Land Location SW S33 T29 R10 W3M
Rural Municipality 285 - Fertile Valley
GPS Location 51° 31' 22", -107° 21' 47"
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