I spent a couple of days visiting family in Hafford, Saskatchewan. These Western towns aren’t like anywhere else, and my Dad came from one; I like visiting and photographing them. Here’s the water tower through the trees, incredibly lush this time of year up into the edge of the parklands.
Population 360, says Wikipedia, and shrinking. The Prairies are emptying out, farm and town. The traditional family farm no longer provides a living; some farms are still family-run, but the family has a bunch of employees and big operations top ten thousand acres. So the farmhouses that still stand every few miles along the country roads are mostly empty and crumbling. Which is sort of sad; but I haven’t chosen to live there either.
The towns, there in large part to serve the fabric of farms, shrink too; but some will hold on. Here’s Hafford’s main street.
I feel vaguely guilty pointing the camera at picturesque decay, because it’s unfair to the town; there are lots of perfectly prosperous houses, big and small, which look pretty well like my Mom’s, a few hours away in urban Regina. And the drugstore in the picture is nicely modern and well-stocked inside. But those don’t make interesting pictures. Having apologized, here’s that picturesque decay.
This last one’s really unfair, since the local school’s playground has nice modern equipment too; it’s just that these old bits lined up irresistably. I bet there’s some fine football (Canadian rules, natch) played on that field there.
And the local culture isn’t necessarily all white-bread stuff, either.
The town’s street signs are bilingual English/Ukrainian, and there are both Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic churches. Here’s the latter, which I thought a fine piece of work.
The town has another advantage: If you want to live in this milieu, as my relatives do, there are fantastic real-estate bargains. They paid a laughable amount for an old farmhouse that’s been relocated into town and had a substantial addition built on the side, across from the church and the school. It’d cost loads of money in any city, but was peanuts here.