CARLYLE - Many have methodically driven down Main Street Carlyle for years and have failed to notice the McLeod Service weather vane.
In fact, the Observer has learned that many of the town’s residents don’t even know about its existence on the corner of Main and East Railway Avenue. With information obtained from Alan McLeod, Frank Faber, Ronald Kyle, and the Prairie Trails to Blacktop Carlyle history book (1882-1982), we wish to enlighten you.
Norman McLeod, who was born in 1880, travelled from Ontario to Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. In 1912, he and his brother Murdie bought a livery stable, known as McLeod Brothers Livery and Feed Stable. It was located between the present McLeod’s service station and the Biberdorf Brothers blacksmith shop.
In 1926, McLeod bought and dismantled the Cornett Hotel, which was on the corner of Main and Railway. In 1927, the existing Mcleod’s service station was constructed at its present location. To commemorate the event, McLeod erected a 25-foot high weather vane in the northwest corner of the property.
The years proudly displayed on the wind arrow are 1867-1927, celebrating the 60-year anniversary of Canada’s confederation.
Norman and Jessie (nee Turton) were married in 1913 and had one daughter Gretta, and three sons, Alvin, Cameron, and Lorne. Alan McLeod is the son of Lorne and Millicent McLeod, Frank Faber the son of Gretta and Matt Faber. Alvin eventually took over ownership and owned and managed the service station from 1943 to the early 1980s.
In 1963, Ronald Kyle was hired on by Alvin as a mechanic.
Also, because no one in town had an auto body business, Alvin and Ron repaired and repainted cars and trucks. In fact, during his first years of employment, Kyle obtained both his journeyman papers in mechanics and auto body repair from the Saskatchewan Technical Institute in Moose Jaw. In 1976, Ron purchased McLeod’s Service from Alvin and has been the owner since that time.
We caught up with cousins Alan McLeod and Frank Faber at the Carlyle Auto Parts building, located directly north of McLeod’s Service. Incidentally, Alan purchased that auto parts business from Dennis Coulter back in 1992, nearly 30 years ago.
While Alan proudly displayed a treasure trove of McLeod picture albums and other mementoes, the history surrounding the 1927 grand opening and weather vane is rather vague.
Ronald Kyle fondly remembers the “good old days” and has great respect for the McLeod family. “Alvin and I got along very well over the years. He was a great man to work with and a good businessman. When we did auto body work, we didn’t even have a paint booth but still got a good job done.”
Kyle also wanted to say that Alvin had an American Motors Rambler Dealership during the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Amx Classic, Ambassador, Matador, Javelin, and of course the Rambler, McLeod’s service sold them all.”
Ron is extremely proud of both the weather vane and the Goodyear Tire Service sign. “I have been offered thousand of dollars for the Goodyear sign but it is not for sale.” Regarding the 94-year-old weather vane, Kyle cannot believe its near perfect condition.
“That weather vane has given proper wind direction for nearly a century. To my knowledge, it has never been damaged or needed replacing. The ball-bearings are still originals.”
In its day, both the Union Jack and the Canadian Maple Leaf flags were proudly flown and solemnly lowered during funerals. The pulley is still attached to its mast. Kyle also advised that many visitors to the Town of Carlyle have stopped by over the years to get their picture taken with the weather vane. Kyle added, “It is a great tourist attraction.”
Despite being 80 years old, Kyle is in great shape and continues to do what he loves, repairing cars and trucks at McLeod’s Service. Unfortunately for everyone else, until he retires, the weather vane is also not for sale. Collectors will just have to be patient until the property is inherited by his family.
And then, who knows, maybe daughters Rhonda and Lisa will keep it in the family forever.