According to Dorothy and Lynn of Tugaske, the Masonic Temple is now owned by a local artist who had the interior modified a bit from its previous life as a bank. We are standing together on the sidewalk across from the lodge in front of the Canada Post building.
“My mother used to work at that bank in the 1920s,” Dorothy says. “It’s not a temple, it’s a lodge. The Masons aren’t here anymore. They were kind of like the Kinsmen.”
|Town Hall 1910|
The building kitty-corner to it displays a shield inscribed with Town Hall 1910. It is also privately owned and in disrepair. Lynn reports that the new owners had made big promises but have left it rotting for years. They point out that the hotel is also vacant and the restaurant closed.
“You might also like to know that our church is abandoned now too. The roof was leaking and the repairs didn’t take, the heat was turned off and now small animals have taken it over. We meet in the community hall for services. The Pastor comes from Saskatoon every two weeks,” says Dorothy.
|United Church - unused|
The ladies excuse themselves saying that they’ve been standing too long and need to go home and rest.
My exploration of the town takes me across the dusty gravel street to Westbridgeford Meats Ltd. A woman is standing under the canopy. I ask if it is her business, she says yes and invites me in. The pungent odor of decaying meat fills my nostrils and makes my eyes water. She explains and that she once bred Jack Russell dogs and fed them ground meat and leftovers from her daily butchering. She now specializes as a dog food producer.
|Westbridge Meats Ltd.|
“We used to own the only grocery store in town with the meat rendering plant in the back. Some years ago, the whole thing burned down, we rebuilt the meat business and that’s all we do now,” she says.
The meat packing plant and the Co-op garage seem to be the only businesses holding the town in its location. Tugaske is 170 kilometers south of Saskatoon.
That same day, Frank met Dave, a guitar builder who often has international students stay in the town for seven weeks and learn how to build guitars. At the end of their stay, they return home with the guitar they have built. At the moment, one of his students is from Israel and another is from Chicago.
Later that day, we met Violet, the librarian. The library is a great resource for the locals who attend it on the three days of the week and the short hours it is open. Like many of the other towns we’ve visited this summer, the library is sometimes the only gathering place.