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CraigBaird

About 14,000 years ago, as the last ice age came to an end, a giant erratic made of granite from the area of Hudson Bay fell onto the land. The huge rock had been picked up by the ice sheets as they moved south and transported to the area. When the ice melted, the rock found a new home in a field near to where Hazlet is today.

The erratic is 3.35 metres high and 9.14 metres long, located six kilometres west of Hazlet. Various points of the rock have been rubbed smooth by thousands upon thousands of bison who came through the area over the centuries. The Indigenous would use the rock as a marker, as would the settlers who came to the area.

I used to live near to Hazlet and I visited Standing Rock and it is well worth the visit.

The area where Hazlet is today was primarily the territory of the Blackfoot, whose land stretched from the southern Rocky Mountains into Manitoba. The Sioux would also have the reaches of their northern territory into the area. As Europeans began to push in from the east, the Metis would begin to settle in the area of Hazlet as well.

Before long, the bison herds would disappear due to overhunting by Canadians and Americans and the Indigenous of the area would be pushed to reserve far from their original territory.

One of the earliest settlers to the Hazlet area had a long and interesting history both before he arrived in the Hazlet area, and after. Born in Bode, Norway on April 3, 1878, he would enlist in the Norwegian Navy and sail down to South Africa where he served in the Ambulance Corps during the Boer War. In 1910, he left his family in Norway and came to Canada, arriving in Saskatchewan in 1910, spending the winter in Pense. On March 20, 1911, he filed his homestead and began his new life as a farmer.

Peter would break the land and farm it with horses.. As time went on, he would build three more rooms onto the small homestead shack as he prepared to bring his family over. In 1914, he returned to Norway to bring his family back to Canada. They would return, as a family, on May 19, 1915.

For the first part of the 20th century, the Hazlet area was known as Pittville, which was chosen by Richard Pearce who had come from Pittville, England. On Jan. 1, 1913, the RM of Pittville was formed. David Magee would serve as the first Reeve.

In 1928, the small community of Hazlet was established as the railroad was built through. The community would eventually become a village on Jan. 1, 1963.

One of the first times that Hazlet appeared in a major newspaper was on Sept. 18, 1930 when a big barn owned by a Mr. Fisher burned to the ground outside the community. Oat bundles, which were becoming overheated in the barn, caused the fire, in an article printed in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

In 1944, Hazlet would become a pioneer when it comes to universal healthcare. At the time, Tommy Douglas was the premier of Saskatchewan and was beginning the journey to creating Universal Healthcare in the province and eventually Canada. At the time though, Hazlet actually had a system created by William Burak, that allowed a person to receive medical and hospital care in the community for only $11 per year, about $180 today. Burak then wanted to spread this throughout the southwest corner of Saskatchewan and he wrote every town and village and RM, visited newspaper editors and called public meetings to discuss his health care plan.

On Aug. 29, 1945, the Regina Leader-Post wrote quote:

“Councils of the municipalities included in the organization of the Swift Current health region are requested to send a copy of necessary resolution to W.J. Burak, Hazlet, chairman of the health region organization committee.”

This proposed health region that Burak wanted to organize would include all the municipalities south of the Saskatchewan river. It would cover about 90 municipalities in all.

Burak would say quote:

“Just as education is free to our children, similarly medical, hospital and other health services shall be made available to every person irrespective of his individual ability to pay.”

On Nov. 26, 1945, a majority of people in the region voted for this health plan.

Burak then began to work with the provincial government into creating a more comprehensive program for the region. This was accomplished on July 1, 1946, creating the health care plan that would form as the basis for the province and eventually the country.

Throughout the decades, Hazlet was known for being one of the baseball hotbeds of the province. In 1938 for example, the local team won 57 of 64 games, as well as nine tournaments. Six players on the team batted over .400, which was no small task.

The most dominant team in the history of the community came about in the 1980s though. The Hazlet Elks had begun to play in the South River Baseball League but after winning consecutive championships from 1979 to 1981, it was decided that the team needed to move to a more competitive league. In October 1981, the team moved into the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League.

In the team’s first game, they attracted over 400 fans and even though they finished last in the league that year, they would soon become the best team of the decade in the league. In 1983 and 1984, the team lost in the league final. Even though Hazlet had a population of 125 people at the time, it was routinely beating communities with many times its population, including the capital of Saskatchewan, Regina. In fact, Hazlet was the smallest community to ever compete in the league. This allowed the team to have four American imports on the roster.

The scouting system of the team was so good that several future Major League Baseball players and draft picks would join the roster including Greg Mathews and Steve Reed. Reed would spend 14 years in the Majors, while Mathews would spend seven years. Other players that signed with the team but did not play were Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. This was all thanks to Larry English, the scout of the Elks who would get notice from the Majors himself when he became a scout for the Minnesota Twins for five years.

In 1985 and 1986, the team lost the league semi-final, and then won three straight league championships from 1987 to 1989.

During this time, the team dominated other teams in the province. Players on the Elks also did very well. Jim Straw, for example, was the most valuable player in the league in 1989 thanks to his 10 homeruns and 32 runs batted in.

The team lost in the playoffs from 1990 to 1991, lost the league final in 1992 and then missed the playoffs in 1993, the team’s last season in the league.

In Hazlet, you will notice there is a large wind turbine running. The turbine was installed in November 2010 and would become a defining feature of the community.

At the time of its installation, Lindsay Alliban would tell the Regina Leader-Post, quote:

“There’s plenty of wind in Saskatchewan so some of the smaller communities will start to realize there could be cost savings. Sure, up front there’s a lot of money but in the long run, it will just be positive for the rink complex, or any building.”

The cost for the turbine was paid for equally by the federal, provincial and municipal government but the idea for the wind power was homegrown. It was Kristy Sletten, the principal of the school at the time, that brought the idea to the village and it went off from there.

The village received a $734,000 grant from the Recreational Infrastructure Canada program that went to the ice plant, a cement surface and wind turbine.

Alliban would say quote:

“We’re a community that’s trying to jump on these new ideas beforehand so we do stand out. We want to be a green community.”

Rated for 75 kilowatts at 15 metres per second or 54 kilometres per hour wind speed, it can reach upwards of 83 kilowatts an hour. The wind turbine provides power to the community rink, but in the summer, the power goes into the grid and Hazlet is given a credit from SaskPower. In 2015, the turbine reached 200,000 kilowatt hours of power generated.

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