Ghost Towns of Saskatchewan – Cutbank

Wikipedia’s antiseptic description is as follows:  Cutbank is an unincorporated hamlet in Loreburn Rural Municipality No. 254, Saskatchewan, Canada. The hamlet is located 40 km south east of the Town of Outlook east of highway 44 east of the Gardiner Dam & Danielson Provincial Park.

It would be timely to feature Cutbank, for 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the completion of the South Saskatchewan river project for which it was created. The hamlet sprang up around 1958 as the headquarters for the construction of the Gardiner Dam, the Qu’Appelle Dam, and associated power generation.  In the years since its completion, a slew of development almost too vast to describe has gone on around Lake Diefenbaker. Gardiner Dam (named for Saskatchewan premier James Gardiner) has been responsible for the creation of the largest irrigation district in the province, three provincial parks, numerous regional parks and resort communities, significant hydro-electric power generation and more.

A significant portion of the flow of water is diverted to the Qu’Appelle River system. Prior to the dam’s construction, Saskatoon often experienced serious ice flow problems while the Qu’Appelle system dried up in the summer.

The dam was officially opened on July 21, 1967. It was completed at a cost of $120 million. At the time, 45 percent of the population of Saskatchewan got their drinking water, either directly or indirectly, from Lake Diefenbaker.

Overlooking the dam itself, Cutbank has been relegated to serving as home of the dam authority maintenance department. Not too many years ago, we drove through the townsite. Neatly laid out curbs, sidewalks and streets still exist, devoid of buildings and people.  It is almost as though the infrastructure patiently awaits another boom that is unlikely to ever happen.  Cutbank was built for a single purpose, and it seems its time left as quickly as it came.

Cutbank overlooking the dam.



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