Located one hour south of Regina, Dummer was never a huge community but for a time it was a thriving community. While the area had been settled for several years, the first post office to have the name Dummer appeared on Sept. 1, 1909 on the homestead of John Patterson. His wife served as postmistress at the location until 1912, followed by several postmasters over the years until service eventually stopped at the community. As for the name Dummer, that comes from the name of a township in Peterborough County in Ontario, which itself was organized in 1821.
As with most communities, the hamlet can owe its start thanks to the railroad. The railroad began to be constructed south of Moose Jaw in 1910 and continued moving south. By 1912, a railyard station was constructed at the Dummer site and an agent was installed at the station on Sept. 15, 1913.
For a time, Dummer was a thriving community with a business boom happening soon after the community was founded. By 1913, the community was thriving enough that a bank was built, which was authorized to be constructed by the Union Bank of Canada on Oct. 12, 1913. The bank would operate for the next ten years before it was closed for good. During its time, the bank had two managers, C.V. Henderson from 1913 to 1918 and B.T. Anderson from 1918 to 1923. Once the bank was closed, the building was used for a variety of purpose. It served as the high school for one year until 1924, then became a hall for dances and shows. Eventually, it would be operated as a store and a residence before it was moved to a homestead to serve as a building on the property.
As with many other communities in Saskatchewan, Dummer had its fair share of elevators. After the town was created in 1909, the first elevator would be licensed in 1912 for a 30,000 bushel facility to be used by the Reliance Grain Company. A second grain elevator was built in 1913 for the Heywood Company, with a third elevator popping up in 1914 for the Alberta Pacific Grain Company.
Times were good early on for the community and in 1912 the community shipped out 300,000 bushels of crops. Through the 1930s, it is estimated 20 million bushels went through.
Unfortunately, the elevators in the community continued to change hands on a regular basis.
The Reliance Grain Company elevator would be lost to fire in 1924, but was replaced with a smaller elevator that same year. The Heywood Company elevator was sold in 1915 and by 1937 was being torn down by locals.
The Alberta Pacific Grain Company elevator, which was sold to the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator company in 1916, would burn down in 1956. A new 70,000 bushel elevator was built that same year and would stand into the 1980s, even helping to put out 428,000 bushels of grain in 1977. The elevator would close for good in 1987.
As with any community at the turn of the century, getting telephones installed was a major achievement. On Aug. 1, 1913, a meeting was held in the Dummer School to organize a telephone company. Within one month, 71 $5 shares were sold to farmers in the surrounding area and work began to install telephones in a 100-mile radius around the community. Rural telephones cost $12 per year for rental, and $12 per year in town, where six phones were located. The telephone’s central office was located at the hotel where Richard Patterson worked as the first operator for a salary of $50.
Eventually, the Dummer Rural Telephone Company would serve 150 subscribers and things would go well until 1929 when The Great Depression hit. With a horrible crop year in 1931, it was decided that rental rates would drop to $6 per year beginning in 1932 and service would be cut down to only six hours per day. Throughout the 1950s, the system was upgraded and lines were rebuilt.
In 1963, with the company now losing money, the last operator would close the switchboard service in the community. The company itself would hold its last meeting in 1978.
Churches are always an important part of any community, and it did not take long for churches to pop up in Dummer once people started to settle in the community. Early on, church services were held in the homes of residents and at the school house. A manse, a home for a minister, was built in 1915 but attendance was quite low in the community. Only two people joined the church in 1917, with only 12 baptisms, four funerals and three weddings being held. As there was no church in the community, funeral services were held in the homes of the family who lost the loved one.
By 1934, church services became non-existent in the community and with no minister to do services, the manse was rented out to the postmaster and his wife. It was not until 1952 that regular church services in the community would start up again. In 1954, church services were happening in Dummer school.
In 1957, the community finally had its own church, with the Dummer United Church serving as the home of church services from that year until 1971. After ten years of not being moved, the church building was moved to MIlton in 1981 to replace their own church that was lost to fire.
Dummer may have been small, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have the most Canadian of all sports being played. Hockey was played in open air rinks and on dams in the area for years. Due to the fact that Dummer began to see a slow decrease in population beginning in the 1930s, there was never a closed rink built in the community. Throughout the 1930s to the 1940s, teams were organized and played on the open air ice through the winter. By the 1970s, children were attending school in Pangman and Avonlea and playing hockey there.
Baseball was another popular sport in Dummer and was played throughout the early years of the community. By 1937, the Dummer Pats were formed and they would play in exhibition games throughout the area. The team was able to play until 1939 when the Second World War broke out and several players went overseas. In 1945, the men came back and the team was formed once again and would operate for a few years playing in a local league. By the 1950s, the team had disbanded but they came back together in 1960 for a couple of tournaments before calling it quits once again.
Curling was also popular in the community and there were three closed-in curling rinks in the community. The first was built in the early-1910s where water was hauled from the creek to flood the rink. The second rink was part of the agricultural building and after the Second World War, a third rinks was built.
In 1953, a curling club was finally organized and 25 shares at $50 each were raised to build the third curling rink mentioned before. With $1,300 in their pockets and another $665 coming in, a curling rink was built by the club and by 1954, residents were playing their favourite game in the new rink. The Dummer Curling Club would hold many bonspiels and be very popular for many years until it dissolved on Jan. 20, 1972. The building and the rocks would be given to the Dummer Ladies Club in 1979.
School was an important part of life in Dummer, and while the school that was once in town is long gone, there was a time when they served an incredibly important purpose for the community. With the closest school to Dummer several kilometres away, and since most children walked to school, the need for a school in the community was high. To that end, a school was created within the village hall in 1912. From February to May, school was held within the hall until $3,000 was raised to build a new school. In 1920, a cottage was purchased for $600 for a teacherage. As was already mentioned, a high school was also run out of the old bank that had shut down in the early-1920s.
As The Great Depression hit, things got tough at the school as teachers had to work with the promise of being paid and text books began to fall into very bad condition. Debt began to ring up, but by the 1940s everything was paid off and the schools continued to operate.
Eventually, with students now being bussed out of the community to larger schools, the original school that had been expanded on by that point to include a basement, was turned into the Dummer Recreation Centre, which still stands to this day.
Throughout the 1950s, the population of Dummer held at about 50 people, but it had fallen to 25 by 1960. In 1961, after nearly 50 years of operation, the railway station was officially closed for good.
In 1965, the Lawrence Cousins garage, which had operated since 1912, closed its doors. The Elwood Nesbitt Store closed for good in 1988, the last business to do so in Dummer.
In December of 1993, Douglas Tulloch and his wife June, who were the last residents of the community, left and Dummer officially became a ghost town.
Today, several buildings still stand, including the home of Douglas and June, as well as the Recreational Hall and a few other smaller homes. Nature has reclaimed the rest.
Of course, Dummer was home to 253 people at one point, and those people all led lives in the town they loved.
Thomas Tulloch was born in 1881, ninth in the family of 12, who decided to make the trip out to Canada in 1903 with a wealth of farming experience at his disposal. Coming with his brother William, they began working at a farm in Manitoba, before moving on to Indian Head to farm. In 1906, they arrived in the Dummer district and took up homesteads. Robert, a third brother, had arrived in the Dummer area in 1905.
Tom’s land would be sold in 1910, one year after he received clear title on his homestead, to the Mackenzie Mann and Company. Acting on behalf of the Canadian Northern Railway, Tom’s land was selected as the townsite for Dummer. Earning $25 per acre, no small amount at the time, it gave Tom enough to go back home to visit twice, where he met his wife Magarget in Scotland. The couple would have three children together, William, Doug and Harold.
Very active in the community, Tom was elected to the Dummer Presbyterian Church Board in 1915, and also served with the Wagner United Church Board. He helped to guide the Dummer Rural Telephone Company during the 1930s. Tom was a man of older tastes, he did not get his first tractor until 1938, preferring to just use horses to farm.
He would pass away in 1957 at the age of 75, from cancer. His wife, Margaret, passed away in 1968.
William Tulloch served in the Second World War, before becoming an agent for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, while also managing baseball and hockey teams in the area. He lived in Regina before passing away at 56 in 1973.
Douglas married June from England in 1947. June had been an employee with the British War Office, and the copule lived in Dummer from 1957 to 1993. Ironically, as has been mentioned, Tom Tulloch would be Dummer’s first resident, and his son Doug would be the last resident.
Harold married Ruth Parker in 1952 when she was teaching at Wagner School. Living in the Wagner district, Harold would receive the Saskatchewan Heritage Award in 1980 for continuing to live on the family farm.
Born in England in 1884, Lawrence Cousins came to the Dummer area and set up a homestead in 1904 when he was only 20 years old. Located near the farm of Tom Tulloch, Cousins worked hard on his land to make it profitable. In 1912, he married Nettie Foy in Weyburn and upon the return from their honeymoon, he bought a steam engine and separator and began threshing many of the farms of the older men in the area.
In 1914, Lawrence and Nettie moved into Dummer and began to operate a garage and implement business. This business would operate for 51 years until 1965 when Lawrence had his leg amputated, it is not stated why. In 1966, the couple moved to Regina. Lawrene would pass away in 1967, and Nettie passed away in 1978. They had no children.
Born in 1879, Henry Nisbett was born in the land that bordered the Dummer township in Ontario. Marrying his wife Flora in 1914, Henry, also called Harry by his friends, was the oldest of two brothers and three sisters, and he made the trip out west in 1907 to find a better piece of land in which to farm. Working on the farm of a resident of Milestone, he was eventually joined by his brother Alex. In 1909, he filed a homestead and began working the land during the summer, while returning to Ontario in the winter.
Henry worked very hard on the farm with his tractor and separator, whiel employing about ten men to help him.
In 1945, Flora passed away. Two years later, Henry decided to retire from the farm and marry Elizabeth Ann, a widow who lived nearby. The marriage lasted for a few years.
In 1954, Henry moved to Regina, where he lived until he passed away in 1969.
One of Henry’s children, Elwood, would have a lasting impact on Dummer during its time. After working on his father’s farm for a few years, he took a job at the general store of Charles Melles and in 1943 he purchased one-half of the business after the death of Charles. In 1948, after the death of Lois Peterson, who owned the other half, Elwood became the sole owner. Also in 1948, he married Myrna Powell and the lived above the store until 1959 when they built a new home. A new store was built just south of the old one.
Elwood would serve on several committees for the community over the years, including the local ball club, school board and church board. Up until 1988, Elwood commuted from Regina where he operated the general store and the post office. Along with Doug Tulloch, he made up one-half of the hamlet council until he finally shut down his business.
Deciding to trade a fruit farm for actual farm land, Fred Brooks, who was 51 at the time, moved his wife and five children to the Dummer area in 1923 from their fruit farm in Oregon. Settling on a homestead, they remained on it until the 1930s when they decided to rent out the farm land. In the late-1930s, Fred made the move to Rouleu with his wife. The farm continued to be rented for one year until 1940 when his son John took over.
Fred, during his time in Dummer, was very active in the community and even served as the president of the Dummer Telephone Company for a time. Many people in the community would also call Fred for advice regarding sick livestock and several other things. Since the family had a car, Fred also took a lot of people to the doctor when going by wagon would take too long.
Thanks to his wife’s garden, the family always had enough to eat throug the lean years of The Great Depression.
Coming to Canada in 1905, Daniel Schulz was born in 1884 in Nebraska, where he was raised. Deciding to try his hand at farming in Canada, he set up his homestead in 1906, just south of the homestead owned by his sister and her husband.
During the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, a young woman by the name of Olga came to Canada to help her brother with his sick family. Her brother was the pastor of the local church, of which Daniel was a member. Soon enough, Daniel fell in love and the couple were married in 1919.
The copule would have 11 children, of which four were born in the Dummer area. In 1925, the couple moved to Alexandria, where several more children were born. In 1930, the family returned to the homestead to begin farming again. Sadly, a newborn daughter named Fern passed away a year later at the age of only six weeks. Three more children were born at the homestead after 1931.
In 1947, Daniel and Olga retired from farming. In 1965, Daniel passed away, while Olga passed away in 1967. By 1981, the family had produced 34 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren.