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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Vermilion Gets Gas

Craig Baird outside of Craigs Cornerstone. Photo submitted

On Aug. 4, 1941, it was a big day for the community of Vermilion when hundreds of people came out, even from Saskatchewan, to celebrate the community getting gas.

J.W.G. Morrison, the mayor of Vermilion at the time, kicked things off by saying, quote:

“Let there be gas and there was gas.”

As he turned a valve, millions of cubic feet of gas from the Franco Public Service, connected to a gas well 20 kilometres outside town, flowed into town. The well had been brought online only a year earlier and was already one of the biggest producers of gas for the province.

The ceremony took place in a park in the community and 500 people gathered for the event from places as distant as Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. Standards were erected in the park and these were lighted by the gas that burned through the night as the crowd mingled about on the momentous day.

J.K. Swanson, president of the Franco Company, told spectators that he had faith in the community and the district and he wanted his company to serve the best interests of the town.

Also on hand for the event was W.A. Fallow, the local MLA and the minister of public works for the Government of Alberta. He predicted that within 25 years, Vermilion would be a thriving and prosperous metropolis.

Other dignitaries on hand included Mayor S.N. McEarchern of Saskatoon, J.B. Millar from the Saskatoon Board of Trade, Mr. Card and Mr. Smith from Cardston, and the editor of the Saskatoon Star. Phoenix.

Walter Thorne was also praised at the gathering for his work in development of the natural resource in the area, and the many labourers who worked to bring it into the community.

A banquet for 150 guests was also held at the Elks Hall, with dinner served by the Vermilion Red Cross.

I would like to say that I had the chance to visit Vermilion, briefly, during my province-wide tour visiting rural historical sites. I unfortunately couldn’t stay long due to time constraints, and had to continue on but I was overjoyed to see a department store that I share a name with. I will be returning to the community soon, and in the near future, I will be looking at the history of this store with a great name.

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