It was the Indigenous who named the nearby Kenosee Lake, which is the Cree word for fish. The lake was a popular destination for the Indigenous who came to the area to camp and collect the bountiful fish that live in the lake.
The bison were a major food source in the area for centuries for the Cree and Assiniboine people who lived in the area. In 1866, Walter Traille related a bison hunt that happened near Moose Mountain, stating quote:
“We set forth in the first light of dawn across the sandy prairies, that are broad and treeless and level from the banks of the Qu’Appelle and the Assiniboine Rivers, to the south and west, broken only by the gentle sloping of the Moose Mountains, and further west, the Wood Mountains…Our hunters drew as near as possible to the grazing animals without disturbing them. In the time honoured discipline of generations of plainsmen, they formed a long line keeping abreast in self-imposed silence until so close that the beasts became restless and their solid heads began to rise here and there in the herd. At the instant they broke into a run, the Captain gave the command to charge. Then, and not a second before, the riders descended upon them at full gallop, each man having an equal chance to approach and bring down a buffalo with his first shot…At the end of the hour, all but the fastest riders have dropped behind the fleeing buffalo and they counted 75 dead animals. Each cart carries one and a half dead animals and if the weather is cold, the meat is frozen but if the weather is warm, an encampment of Indians is engaged to dry the meat for pemmican.”
The buffalo would soon begin to disappear due to overhunting in Canada and the United States. In the winter of 1882-83, the last great buffalo hunt in the area was conducted, ending tradition that went back to long before the arrival of Europeans.
In the area are mounds and medicine wheels that have been dated back as much as 1,700 years, showing that there was Indigenous inhabitation in the area while the Roman Empire was still around. The area would also be where Treaty 2 was signed by the Chippewa Tribe, just north east of the Moose Mountains.
Founding of Community
The first site of Carlyle was located on the east side of Swift Creek, which was a site chosen by John Gallanger Turiff. Turiff was a Metis man who had come out to the area in 1882 and built a general store in the back of his house. He was well-known for being an energetic and fair young man who was highly thought of by the people in the area. Thanks to his enterprising and energetic nature, while also serving as the postmaster and Notary Public, Turiff is seen as the founder of Carlyle.
The Moose Mountain Agricultural Fair would be held in 1885, the first of their kind in the area. From 1883 to 1888, this first incarnation of Carlyle enjoyed good years but in 1891 Turiff moved away and the land was bought in 1893 by James Cutler, who moved the community to the west of Swift Creek. It was here that the community began to grow on its current spot.
In 1900, the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built through the area and trains would begin running in the townsite in 1901. That year, the community only had 23 people but within five years, the population had grown to 400.
The name for the community is owed to the fact that many of the early settlers were of British origin. One of those settlers was the niece of Thomas Carlyle, who came with her husband to the district to farm and raise a family. Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish historian and essayist who wrote several works including On Heroes in which he argued that the actions of the Great Man play a key role in history. His most famous quote is “the history of the world is but the biography of great men.”
In 1902, the community was incorporated as a village as it began to grow from a few buildings into a thriving community. By 1905, it was a town, and the future was looking bright. On Oct. 28, 1909, the CNR reached the community. The big event is described as such by Florie Johnstone in a note found in a bible years later.
On July 7 of the following year, the first passenger service went through the community.
As with most communities, fire was an ever-present danger. In April 1907, the following was reported in the Carlyle Herald, quote:
“On Tuesday evening, the worst fire in the history of Carlyle occurred. It started in the rear of the Red Cross Drug Store and then spread north to the barn of McViety and Geddes and through the fire wall south of G. Marsh’s furniture store and residence. But for a vacant lot, it would have swept the entire block.”
During the winter of 1909-10, the CNR station was built in Carlyle. In 1912, the CNR built a brick round house that could service five engines, followed by a bunkhouse that allowed train crews to stay in the community while their engines were being serviced.
The population of Carlyle would remain around 400 until the 1950s when the population surged to over 800 and since then it has continued to climb, which is unusual for small communities in Saskatchewan, reaching 1,500 people today.
Moose mountain Provincial Park
One of the best places to visit near to Carlyle, and possibly one of the most scenic in the province, is Moose Mountain Provincial Park. Covering nearly 400 square kilometres, it is located only a few minutes north of Carlyle. The centerpiece of the park being Kenosee Lake and its many fishing opportunities.
It is also one of the oldest provincial parks in Saskatchewan. Opened by Premier J.T.M. Anderson on July 1, 1932. The Moose Mountains were originally named Montagne a la Bosse, from 1787 to 1821 when the area was primarily used by the Indigenous and fur traders. The name translates as The Mountain of The Bump or Knob.”
Later, the area would be named Fish Lake by the Weatherald brothers who were growing hay nearby, the Christopher family would move in near to the lake in 1898 and established a resort that operated for several years. The family would be the first to cut trails through the park, allowing for hiking and camping opportunities prior to the provincial park designation.
In those early years, one of the more colourful characters to live in the area was a man named Capt. David T.M. Powell but was often called Skipper by locals. He lived alone in a small house on the northeast shore of the park. Interestingly, it is stated that his brother was Lord Baden Powell, a British army officer and the first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts, as well as its founder. Whether that is true, it is hard to say, but it makes an interesting story. Skipper had spent time sailing around the world prior to settling around Moose Mountain and would often regale visitors with his tales of fighting in the Zulu War in Africa and how he was the only one to get away safely.
By 1906, the area around Fish Lake was home to about 30 people and a lakeside village was established. One year earlier, John Rutherford had become the first forest ranger for the area around the lake.
The establishment of the park as a provincial park in 1932 was done as part of relief effort to help unemployed individuals during The Great Depression. In 1930 and 1931, 250 unemployed men were brought in, of all trades, to work on various aspects of the park. This included building roads, a golf course, the chalet that the Premier would cut the ribbon for the park in, and the sunken gardens. Masonry stone was brought down from Hog and Maple Island to outline the lake.
John Barnett, who was a deputy minister with the government, came to the park one day and said, quote:
In 1931, the area was sown and planted and in 1932 the elms of the front wall of the chalet were planted. Charles Parkes, a master stonemason, came from Ontario to build the Chalet itself and after Parkes died, a memorial was erected to him.
The golf course would be begun in 1932 and completed one year later. At the time of its opening, it was one of the best in Canada.
Through the two relief camps that operated in the park as it was being built, a total of 21,863-man days of labour was provided. The total cost for the relief project was $60,998.
Sadly, on Nov. 1, 1933, the chalet that had helped to open the park was destroyed by fire. There was no insurance on the building as it was felt that the walls of thick stone and the cement flooring would prevent any fire from spreading but that was not the case. As it was a winter fire, firefighting equipment could not get through to save the building. The chalet would be rebuilt the following year.
Rusty Relics Museum
When a museum’s name is Rusty Relics, you know that you are in for a treat when it comes to visiting a community. Located in the original train station that was built in 1910 and sold to the museum and moved to its present site in 1976, there is much for the local historian to love visiting here.
The museum itself was founded as a non-profit organization in 1973 thanks to a Youth for Employment Grant from the government, and those visiting the station and the museum now will see many rusty relics from the past of Carlyle.
In 1973, through the grant, seven women went around town collecting artifacts, interviewing older residents, and conducting displays of pioneer weaving, butter making and more. By the end of the year, an executive was chosen for the new organization, with Gladys Nicholl serving as the first president.
After the purchase of the rail station and its eventual move to the new grounds, the museum would officially open on July 8, 1980 and continues to operate to this day.
On the grounds of the museum, you can tour an actual CP caboose, a CN workshop, a country school, a farm windmill and even an oil well pump jack. There is also an outdoor shelter that showcases farm machinery from the area.
The community of Carlyle has some great stories from its history. One of those stories comes from the curling bonspiel, often called the Carspiel, that ran from 1947 to 1954 and was considered the richest bonspiel in Canada, attracting the best curlers from around the country. Many came out with the hopes that they would win a car at the tournament.
The first known rat in Saskatchewan was found on Oct. 6, 1910 in the basement of G.W. Stockton in Carlyle, where it was killed.
One of the most dominant sports teams to ever come out of the area were the Carlyle Football Team of 1901 to 1905, who were well-known enough that in 1930, the Regina Leader-Post did a special anniversary story on the team. During their heyday, the team was such a big deal in the community that businesses would close their doors when the team was playing and every farm driver was rented to travel to see the team play football, or soccer as we call it now. The team would win the Moose Mountain District Cup from 1901 to 1905, to the point that it was eventually given to the team and is now on display in Carlyle. They also won the Manor Cup two years in a row and it was given to the team as a result.
Moose Creek United Church and Cemetery
Located only ten kilometres southwest of Carlyle, you will find a one-storey wood-framed church that was built in 1916 and stands to this day.
Prior to the building of this church, the residents of the district would hold services in their own homes, and then later the Moose Creek School, which was built in 1903. Eventually, it was decided in 1915 that the time for their own church had come and a site and building was decided upon. To raise the money for the church, a canvassing was done through the area. John Hewitt loaned the church $1,500 at eight per cent interest as well. When he passed away in 1927, the debt was cancelled. The first wedding at the church would be between Tom Cook and Isabel Wallace, which was officiated over by Reverend F.B. Ball.
This church was the gathering place for many of the early settlers into Carlyle and remains a legacy of the early settlers who built it through hard work and volunteer labour. The cemetery was built two years after the church and is the final resting place for many of the first settlers.
Due to the historic nature of the church, it was made a Municipal Heritage Resource on March 5, 1991.
As with many places on the Canadian prairies, especially in the hockey hotbed of Saskatchewan, Carlyle has a few notable players that have called the community home. One interesting aspect of the three NHL players from Carlyle is that they have all had interactions together while in the community. The most notable interaction is of course between Haydn and Cale Fleury, two brothers who made the NHL.
Haydn Fleury was born on July 8, 1996 in Carlyle and would go on to be selected seventh overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. On Aug. 7, 2014, he signed a three-year entry level contract with the team. On Oct. 26, 2017, he recorded his first NHL point in his eighth game. On July 16, 2019, he signed a one-year extension with Carolina. Over the course of his 132 games in the NHL so far, he has had 23 points, including 14 points in 45 games in 2019-20.
Cale Fleury was born on Nov. 19, 1998 and would be selected 87th overall in 2017 by the Montreal Canadiens. After time in the WHL and AHL, Cale made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 2019-20, playing in 41 games, recording one goal on Nov. 16, 2019.
Brenden Morrow was born in Carlyle on Jan. 16, 1970 and would babysit Haydn when he was a toddler and before Morrow made it to the NHL. Along with helping the Portland Winter Hawks win the Memorial Cup in the 1997-98 season, Morrow was drafted by the Dallas Stars 25th overall. He would play his first NHL game on Nov. 18, 1999, recording his first point four days later. That season, he would be named Rookie of the Year by the team. From 1999-2000 to 2012-13, Morrow would play for the Dallas Stars, with is best season coming in 2007-08 when he recorded 74 points in 82 games. He would also play for Canada in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, helping Team Canada win gold. During the Games, he recorded three points in seven games. The next three seasons, he would play for Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay. One interesting fact about Morrow is that he started his career playing in the Stanley Cup Final with Dallas, and he ended his career by playing in the Stanley Cup Final with Tampa Bay. Over 991 games in his NHL career, Morrow recorded 265 goals and 310 assists. In the playoffs, he recorded 19 goals and 27 assists in 118 games.