Celebrate Our Past...
And Find Out What We Are Doing!
Main Street 1910
The district surrounding Kennedy was settled by Eastern Canadians, British, French, Belgians, Germans and Americans, with the earliest settlers taking up their homesteads in 1883, many years before the Reston-Wolseley line of the CPR was built in 1906. Early in the century a large Hungarian settlement was established at Bekevar, a few miles west of the village. The early settlers were serviced by a small country store in 1899, located at Fletwode and operated until 1906.
The village was named for Mr. Finlay Kennedy. Every Friday he would bring mail by horseback or team from Whitewood to N.A. Reid's log cabin home located just west of Kennedy on the farm presently owned by Les Trail, then on to the post office at J.A. Warner's house in Fletwode. The post office from Reid's farm was moved into Sullivan's general store and Mr. Sullivan became the first postmaster. Mr. Jim Page followed as postmaster for 36 years, passing it along to his son-in-law Cliff Owen and his son, Percy, who was postmaster for 35 years. Mr. Finlay Kennedy presented the village with its first flag at Kennedy's first sports day in appreciation for having the settlement named after him.
Early Businesses The first store, built and run by Dan and Louis Sullivan, was taken over and operated by the McGillivray Brothers in 1906. Later, it was owned by Roy McLaren who sole it to J.S. Wilhelm. His son, Ted, ran the store for a number of years, and its was later operated by Bob and Edith Wilhelm, until it was closed in 1978.
In 1916 George Dodd built a butcher shop and grocery store. He operated this for 47 years and then passed it along to his son Gilbert. Joan and Lee Shackleton purchased the store in 1969, and in later years it was owned by their nephews Jim, Bob and Garth Shackleton. They resumed ownership in 1990 until they sold it in 1994. Fire destroyed the store twice: in 1922 and again in 1971.
J.A. Armstrong opened the first hardware business, later purchased by T.H.Cunningham. Frank White bought it from Cunningham, and later sold to Peter Barta. The store was then owned by Gil and Sheila Margetts before being sold to its present owners.
In 1919 the blacksmith shop owned by Donald McMillan was sold to Bill Edwards, who operated it for 34 years.
People coming to Kennedy for business or entertainment in the early days could stable their horses at one of two livery and feed barns which were operated by Angus MacDougall and George Wilton. They also kept horses and vehicles for hire. Later on, Walter Berglund ran the livery barn for many years until it closed during the 1950s.
In the fall of 1906 Jack and Chas. Holmes built the first hotel. It is still in operation, having passed through a number of owners.
William Blume opened the first real estate and insurance office, later purchased by the Dermody Brothers. This business was sold to P.W. Swan, later being moved to J & L Foods store operated by Lee Shackleton.
Jack and Dan Steele established a lumber yard about 1906. It was operated for many years by Jeff Durwael, and later by Don Gurski and Alvin Will. It is now closed, and the building demolished.
In 1923 J. Elmer Cowan purchased the I.H.C. and Ford Agencies in Kennedy from P.W. Doake. In 1928 he had local carpenters build a fine new building which is now owned by the village, serving as the village office, library and fire hall. In 1944 Elmer sold the business to Peter Barta and Emil Beresh.
Implement shops and garages have been built and have changed hands through the years: Jim Barta, Joe Kielt, Sinc Berglund and Les Balog, to name a few. William Gardner arrived at Kennedy in 1906 and soon established an implement and garage business. He was the first Ford dealer and the first gas and oil agent in Kennedy. His son, Ernie, operated the garage for many years, later taken over by Dwayne Geiger. Jim Armstrong ran a garage and service station for many years from his Main Street location.
Angus MacDougall started a butcher shop. Other manes associated with the meat market are Mr. Goden, George Dodd, Ed Margetts, Wayne Struble, Leigh Potter, Ron Izsak, and Rob Fargo.
The Toronto Dominion Bank opened their Kennedy branch in 1907 and maintained it until the 1930s. The Kennedy and District Credit Union Ltd. Was established in 1960, operating first out of the old Dermody building. This was later torn down and a new credit union building erected on the same site in 1964. When this building became too small another larger one was built on new premises across the street in 1988. The old building was sold to Leigh Potter, then to Joe and Donna Molnar, and finally to Jachael and Amanda Liu.
William Dodd started a shoe repair business in Kennedy, as did Angelo Bortolotto, who passed it on to his son Armando who continues to operate it out of the shop building constructed in 1947.
The first classes of Kennedy School were held in 1907 in a house on the property where Ina Markle's house now stands, and then in a former cafe on Main Street until a school house was completed in 1909 on the site of the present school yard. During the 1920s the high school grades were added, with the first Grade 12 class graduating in 1927. The present building was constructed in 1956, with an addition in 1966 and the gymnasium in 1978. In 1985 the Kennedy and Langbank school districts amalgamated, with Grades K-6 attending Langbank Elementary School and Grades 7-12 attending Kennedy High School.
There is an efficient Fire Brigade wich answers calls to surrounding areas. The Kennedy Community Hall, formerly built and owned by the Royal Canadian Legion, continues to be the center for the social life of the community. The Kennedy Friendship Club built a large seniors' hall on Main Street in 1985.
One of the first religious services in Kennedy was held in the loft of the livery stable. The seats were planks resting on bunches of shingles, the pulpit made of boxes and the lighting system lanterns hanging from the rafters. A church was built and the opening service was held in December, 1907. Presiding minister was the Rev. J.A. Cairns of Langbank, and organist was Mrs. Arthur Huckerby. A regular minister was engaged at a salary of $500 per years and a free house. Kennedy Union Church was the first independent church in Saskatchewan, the congregation later becoming a part of the United Church of Canada in 1925 with their present church building erected in 1949.
The first Roman Catholic Church was built in 1912 with Father Boutin as the first priest. Mr. and Mrs. Adelin Raiwet's marriage was the first to be solemnized in the new church. In 1947 the church was enlarged and the Rev. D. Dorion was appointed first resident priest. In 1959 the present building was finished.
The Kennedy Agricultural Society sponsored its first summer fair in 1908. The firs rodeo was held on Shackleton's Flat in High View district in 1934. During the 1960s the event was moved to Kennedy and has continued to draw large crowds as the Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo.
In 1920 Mr. Hourd and Mr. Bayne installed the first electric light plant in Kennedy. This plant, purchased in 1922 by W.E. Gardner, ran daily from sundown until midnight. In 1953 Sask Power lines reached Kennedy, and natural gas service in 1971. The first sewer mains were installed in 1963 and in 1986 approximately two-thirds of the village streets were paved.
Although the CPR closed the local "peanut" railway line in 1961, Kennedy has remained prosperous. It is noted as being a very friendly community, one where citizens from varying cultural and religious backgrounds have always been able to work together for the good of the community.
Moose Mountain Rodeo
In June 1934 the very first rodeo was staged on what was known at the time as the Shacklelon Flats.
Rev. Bill Gourlay, the United Church minister at Kennedy, came up with the idea of a ranch picnic or rodeo as an inexpensive form of entertainment.
The entire community got into the spirit of things; even the school children were let out for the event. People came by the hundreds via Model - T, horseback, wagon and all forms of transportation of the day.
The first rodeo arena was much larger than the rodeo arena of today, there was no arena fence, just a large circle of cars that formed one. A lone shot from an RCMP Constable's service revolver adeptly opened the rodeo. The cattle were bucked out of a chute, but the horses were snubbed out in the middle of the arena. Rev Gourlay himself was one of the very first riders in the event to the delight of the cheering crowd. Using a hand held megaphone, Rev. Gourlay announced the rodeo from the back of his horse. During the first rodeo there was unfortunately no prize money at all, but the hat was passed around for a collection to pay the contestants.
The rodeo events consisted of steer riding, saddle and loose rope bronc riding, roping, wild cow milking. Cowgirls were also welcome to strut their stuff too. Also featured at the rodeo were various saddle horse races, wagon races featuring teams from neighbouring farms, and an interesting demonstration of twelve horses hitched to a breaking plough. Free meat was also given out to the enthusiastic crowd. In turn, the spectators had brought their own frying pans for the meat, and at supper time, dozens of small fires sprang up everywhere.
During the first few years of the rodeo's existence the stock was supplied by local farmers, but according to a report, the Rodeo went to considerable trouble and expense when a shipment of wild horses came from British Columbia. In 1938 a string of bucking horses was drove up from Oxbow.
During the War Years the rodeo moved from the Shackleton Flats to its present site in Kennedy with proceeds going to the war effort. After the war, the proceeds went to the community war memorial rink fund. At the time the rodeo was usual a one day event beginning with a colorful parade. The rodeo then moved to a local farmer's land approximately five miles south of Kennedy. It remained at that location until 1959 when it moved back to Kennedy.
In 1987, the rodeo (officially know now as the Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo) went professional. Since then, The Moose Mountain Rodeo frequently has World and Canadian champions competing, as well as contestants from America, Australia, New Zealand, and from all the provinces of Canada too.
Today the Moose Mountain rodeo facilities has a new strong steel-pipe arena fence and a large steel grandstand.
The village of Kennedy has a range of businesses and services to serve the needs of its citizens.
BUSINESSES: K.N.B Fine Foods - Looking after Kennedy's grocery, deli, meats and fresh produce needs. Owned & operated by Chris and Walter Hourd.
Liu's Family Restaurant - featuring traditional Chinese and Western food. Take out is available. Owned & operated by Jachael and Amanda Liu.
Kennedy Hardware - home improvements and housewares. Owned & operated by Clair and Lorna Dorrance.
Bortolotto Shoe Service - boots, shoes, western goods, work clothing and repairs. Bit bag manufacture. Owned & operated by A. Bortolotto. Assistant is Joe Cornforth.
The Benny Hill Bar and Grill - Owned & operated by Ben Dubois.
Kennedy Radio & T.V. - specializing in audio and video sales and repairs. Owned & operated by Joe Raiwet.
Blue Heron Artwork and Framing
- specializing in stained glass art, framing and silver and turquoise south-west jewelry. Owned and operated by Clarence and Curtis Bender
Henry's Shop - welding and machinery repairs. Owned & operated by Henry Poirier.
Kennedy Agencies - Operated by Dianne Wilson.
Sue's Country Crafts
- specializing in intricate crocheted designs. Owned and operated by Sue Cummins.
SERVICES: Post Office: full Canada Post service. Postmaster - Bonnie Kell. The Assistant Postmaster is Gail Barsi.
Banking: Plainsview Credit Union. Regional Development Manager - Anna Meszaros.
Library: Southeast Regional Library, Kennedy Branch. Librarian - Wendy Cancade.
Education: Kennedy High School. Grades 7-12. Principal - Brenda Gardner-Daku.
Churches: United Church of Canada. Minister - Rev. Barbara Wilkins. Roman Catholic Church. Priest - Father Joe Strohoffer.
Recreation: Kennedy & District Sports Complex. Skating rink, horseshoe arena.
Park: Heritage Park: children's playground, picnic shelter, modern campsites.
Housing: Leisure Lodge (1978) - 10 seniors' housing units. Leisure Plus Lodge (1981) - 6 units.
Webmaster: Glen Bortolotto
Editor: Roy Bortolotto