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Couple preserves ghost town in southwestern Saskatchewan

The ghost town of Scotsguard is situated on a knoll overlooking the surrounding rolling countryside.
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Main Street

SCOTSGUARD — The ghost town of Scotsguard is situated on a knoll overlooking the surrounding rolling countryside.

Once a bustling town dubbed Little Chicago, the town now appears to be a big farm.

The main street is lined with a row of large metal grain bins and large bungalow with a three car garage.

That’s the home of Keith and Bev Hagen, the guardians and restorers of the ghost town, 60 miles southeast of Swift Current.

Both grew up near here and lived in Brooks, Alta. where he was a chartered accountant.

They returned to farm with his family in 1987 and settled in what was left  of Scotsguard.

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Keith Hagen | Ron Walter

“We moved here in 1987 and there were five or six bachelors,” he said. “There was no businesses, two elevators still standing.” The school was a community hall.

After a while he wondered what if somebody else moved in. He began buying lots, now owning all but two.

A self-confessed pack rat Hagen ran out of space for his growing collections. Then he restored some of the old buildings left on Main Street and a former implement dealer’s shop.

“I rebuilt a couple of buildings on Main Street once I decided I was going to preserve history,” he said.

Ever since they moved to Scotsguard visitors have come to see the place.

The large Norwegian Lutheran Church used to draw in a lot of cars.

“I wish we had saved it,” Bev says. “You could see the spire from the highway.”

Someone agreed to tear down the church for the hardwood floor. They took the floor and left the church to deteriorate until it needed demolition.

“Through the summer there’s somebody every day. We get a thrill out of showing them around,” Keith said.

Says Bev: “We got a lot of them who went to school here and came back with their kids and grandkids to take a look and see what’s left of Scotsguard. Generation after generation came back.”

Hagen also re-created his grandfather’s 1909 tarpaper shack in Scotsguard.

“He built it 10 x12 feet. When he got married he added 10 x 12. When they had kids he added 10 x 12.”

Settled in 1913 when the railway came, and chartered as a village in 1916, Scotsguard was a busy place.

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Bev Hagen | Ron Walter

By 1925 population was 350 right through the 1930s. The town had six elevators, two grocery stores, two barbers, two restaurants, lumber yard, stock yard, hotel, implement dealer, theatre, pool hall and insurance operation among others.

During American prohibition Scotsguard was dubbed Little Chicago for all the bootlegging and poker dens catering to the Dry USA just 50 miles away.    

Hagen acquired most of the items in the museum but many were donated like the glass photo negatives with shots from Scotsguard.    

He continues restoring his extensive car collection and other items. The current project is a 1910 cash register that was used in Scotsguard.    

The Hagens are open to touring visitors “by appointment or by chance,” he says. “We don’t set hours because we don’t want to tie ourselves down.”

Ron Walter can be reached at ronjoy@sasktel.net
 

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