Ghost Town Stories II: From Renegade to Ruin Along the Red coat Trail


142 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55153-992-6
DDC 971.2




Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


There is a mystique attached to the prairie borderlands traversed by the
modern equivalent of the trail that was followed by a handful of North
West Mounted Police dispatched by Ottawa in 1874 to maintain the peace
in the Dominion’s newly acquired North West. Johnnie Bachusky has
sought out and published some of the memories of old-timers who remember
when such towns as Manyberries, Orion, Brooking, Scots-guard, and Senate
enjoyed a mild prosperity engendered by a moist year, the presence of a
railway and its grain elevators, or the liquor requirements of American
imbibers frustrated by Prohibition. When drought and the Depression were
followed by the elimination of railway branch lines and local elevators
after 1945, the small settlements declined in population, lost their
services, and were frequently swept by fires. Senate, Saskatchewan,
where settlers came “to live out their hopes and dreams,” is a case
in point. “[I]n 1983, the new store owner in Senate closed shop. That
signaled the end of the hamlet. In 1994, with the railway and elevators
also gone, rural municipality officials brought in the bulldozers and
leveled Senate’s remaining dilapidated buildings. Part of the debris
was dumped into a nearby landfill.”

While Bachusky’s little book lacks the rigour, breadth, depth, and
immediacy of Barry Broadfoot’s monumental The Pioneer Years
1895–1914 (1976), it contains several engaging biographies of little


Bachusky, Johnnie., “Ghost Town Stories II: From Renegade to Ruin Along the Red coat Trail,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,