Hanley was founded in 1902 and incorporated as a town in 1906. It is a typical small agricultural community in the grain-growing region of Southern Saskatchewan. Thousands of settlers came into the area in the early part of the 20th century after land speculators had procured the lands. Early settlers came from the UK, Eastern Canada, America and Scandinavia. A large community of Norwegian descendants still makes up a significant percentage of the area’s residents and there is also a substantial Mennonite-German community.
There are several reservoirs in the region and some limited irrigation projects have utilized them. Wheat, barley, canola, alfalfa, hay, flax, oats, rye and specialty crops are grown in the area. There is also cattle ranching and other specialty livestock production.
Hanley is typical of small “Dust Belt” towns of the North American Great Plains and there has been a great decrease in the rural population and consolidation of agricultural industries of this region in the last 20 years so consequently the tax base is in decline. Hanley has no industries but there is a school, an RCMP depot, churches, post office and some businesses. Hanley’s population is growing with a number of young families relocating in the past few years. Although there are no longer grain elevators, train station or loading platforms, the Canadian National’s Saskatoon/Regina railway still passes through the community. Railcars can be seen sitting waiting to be loaded with grain in the fall and spring. It is also on Provincial Highway 11. Hanley was once noted for being an important community in this region of Saskatchewan and several railroads were to come through this community and for many years up until the 1960s, was an important trading and business centre in the region.
There were some grand buildings and homes in the town including one of the few Opera Houses in Canada, the Lawrence House Mansion and one of the largest and finest brick schools in the region. All are now gone. It has a neighboring town called Dundurn,also named after a street in Staffordshire.
- Ripples and Reflections History Book
- Saskatchewan’s Last Opera House
- Flipbook History Book
- Putting a Face on Saskatchewan History
- Hanley Cemeteries
- Hanley Cemetery Listing
- Hanley Opera House Cairn
Opera House Cairn Designer: Ronald (Ron) Anderson
At the time that the town of Hanley decided to memorialize the Hanley Opera House by having a monument constructed, Ronald Anderson was employed as a monument designer by the company that received the contract to design and produce it – Remco Memorials, Regina. Ronald was given the task of producing the design for the monument, based on several photographs of the Opera House that the town had provided. The production department then used the design he produced to engrave the image on the granite slab that forms the monument. This was also one of his favorite design projects, as “history” is a particular interest, and producing the image of an actual historic “object” carried real meaning for him.
My very first job in 1963 was working for The Royal Bank of Canada in Hanley. I was 19 years old and just out of school. I took room and board with Mrs. Mamie B. Gibbons for the grand sum of $60./month. My annual pay rate was something in the area of $2,100./year. Mrs. Gibbon’s son Gordon ran the Lucky Dollar store across from the bank and another son Glen farmed in the area. She also had a daughter who was married to a farmer around Young.
In 2007 I did what I refer to as my “journey through the past” and did stop in Hanley and the bank branch where I worked. The bank put up a “new” building while I was there during the winter of 1963/64. They tore the old branch down (leaving only the safe) and built the branch which is there today.
While construction was taking place we set up a temporary bank in the old Opera House which was just across the street. Every morning we took all the files, ledgers, and cash from the safe across to the Opera House and then back again in the evening.
If anyone possess a fairly high resolution digital photo of the Hanley Opera House Cairn please email it to Town Office.