For this adventure, your phone will be your virtual tour guide. Simply follow along with the audio tour. Noteworthy points of interest include the Val Marie Hotel, the Grain Elevators, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Little Brick Schoolhouse, and more!
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!!!!!
- Download the “Tripvia Tours” app available on the Apple Store or Google play
- Select “Val Marie” from the tour list
- Start exploring!!
Take a walk through time…
Once wild prairie, Val Marie was used by First Nations who were dependent on the bison. In 1803, this land was part of the Louisiana Purchase and was considered to be in the United States. John Palliser explored this land in 1857 and claimed that it was a barren desert wasteland. As a result, most land surrounding Val Marie remained undisturbed. In the 1880s the British North American Boundary Commission marked the boundary between the United States and Canada and Val Marie was placed in Canada.
The first European homesteaders arrived in 1910 from Quebec and France. By 1924, Val Marie was home to 33 people. By 1955, the population had boomed to 394 people. Today, Val Marie hosts about one hundred residents with a boost in population in the summer months with the arrival of tourists and seasonal residents.
Your adventure begins at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage at the corner of Centre St. & Hwy 4.
The Little Brick Schoolhouse
Val Marie School No. 4636 was established on September 29, 1925 and the redbrick schoolhouse was constructed two years later. When it was first opened, there were 51 students enrolled. There were two classrooms on the main floor but by 1939, overcrowding caused some classes to be moved to the nearby Catholic Convent where school was taught by the nuns until 1948. A larger school was built and ran in conjunction with the little Brick School House until the little school closed in 1985. The building remained vacant until Prairie Wind & Silver Sage volunteers saved the schoolhouse from demolition by refurbishing it and having it declared a Municipal Heritage site. Today, the school is one of the few of its era in Saskatchewan still in use.
Cross the street and turn right. Continue walking on Centre St.
Val Marie Recreation Complex (Rink)
The first farmers and ranchers in the area used the Frenchman River for skating. An open skating rink was also used. The first curling rink was built in the 1930 with natural ice and in 1967 a new rink with artificial ice was built. Curling and hockey are still popular winter sports in Val Marie today.
The Recreation Complex also hosts the Val Marie Annual Indoor Rodeo. The first indoor Rodeo started in 1964. In 2004, the rodeo was dedicated as the Bob Larson Memorial Rodeo as Bobby Larson had been one of the bucking stock contractors since the 1980s, and was a mentor to young cowboys. The Val Marie Rodeo is the second oldest continual rodeo in the Canadian Cowboy Association.
Continue walking south east down Centre St.
Val Marie Hotel
Oliver Nadeau constructed the original Val Marie Hotel in June 1924. It was three stories high and had 22 rooms. Ownership of the hotel would change hands many times and remained open until a fire destroyed it and other buildings in the village in 1950. The hotel was eventually rebuilt and remains in operation today.
Walk the rest of the way down Centre St. The first elevator is at the intersection of Centre St. and Railway Ave. Turn right on Railway Ave. and follow that along to see the second elevator.
These were essential to the development of an agricultural economy in the Canadian prairies. By 1950, there were over 3,000 elevators in Saskatchewan, each with a storage capacity of 283 bushels. As of 2004, there were only 197 licensed elevators remaining.
The first grain elevator built in the village was the Alberta Pacific in 1927 which stands as a Heritage site, and restoration efforts are currently underway.
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator was built in 1967 and remained in operation until 1999 when the rail line closed. Now this elevator serves as a storage site for seed and functions as a seed cleaning facility.
Canadian Pacific Railway
The Canadian Pacific Railway crossed the province in 1884 and was completed in 1885. George Spence, an ambitious homesteader, spearheaded the effort to bring train service to Val Marie. By uniting farmers in requesting immediate train service to the area, he persuaded government leaders and the Canadian Pacific Railway to construct a railway from Climax to Val Marie in June 1924. The old rail line ran parallel to Railway Ave.
The birth of the village of Val Marie could only have been made possible with the linkage of the region to the rest of the country by rail. Val Marie was incorporated as a village in 1926.
Continue along Railway Ave. Turn right onto 2nd Street South. The Convent will be on the left hand side.
In 1939, the Sisters of the Assumption came to Val Marie and the Convent was completed in September of that year. Classes ran until 1963 when the Sisters sold the convent to Andre and Helen Dumont as a home for the mentally disabled in 1970. Later, the Village acquired the convent and the building remained vacant until it was converted into a bed and breakfast in 1996.
Across the street is a campground.
Val Marie Hospital
The Val Marie Campground was the location of the Val Marie Hospital, which opened in 1946 and was operated by the Sisters of the Assumption. The services of the privately-run hospital were enjoyed in Val Marie for 17 years. After the closure of the hospital, the facility remained open from 1963-1966 as a care home for those moving out of the Souris Valley Hospital in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. The building permanently closed its doors in 1966.
Continue walking along 2nd Street South. Turn left onto 1st Ave and then turn right onto Hwy 4. The Catholic Church will be on the left hand side.
The village of Val Marie was given its name in 1926 by the area’s first priest Fr. Passaplan, in the hopes of putting the drought-stricken area “under the care and protection of the Virgin Mary.” Before the church was built, masses were held in the pool hall, the first celebrated on the Feast of the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin, which became the name of the parish. The church closed in 2020.
Turn left as you leave the church and continue walking along Hwy 4 past Centre St. Turn right onto Hwy 18 and follow that down until just before Railway Ave. The United Church will be on the right hand side.
Grace United Church began its presence in Val Marie 1953. The old structure still stands on Highway 18. The property was sold to a private owner in 2019.
To get back to Prairie Wind & Silver Sage, continue along Hwy 18 and then turn right onto Railway Ave. Follow that along and then turn right onto Centre St. Walk all the way to the end and the little red brick schoolhouse will be on the left hand side.