MNLA November 22, 23 and 24th, 2019
The first people to inhabit the Qu'Appelle River area were the Assiniboine Indians. By the 17th century the Cree were also in the area, a group calle
d the Calling River People.
Fur trade began here in 1785 with the building of Fort Espérance on the south side of the Qu'Appelle River Valley. Its location was on a hill overlooking the river so one could see for miles up and downstream. It was a food supply center for the furtrade with much pemmican and dried meat being stored here, rather than being a fort for trading in furs alone.
Many famous explorers passed through the Rocanville area, some stopping at the fort. Alexander Henry went through the area in about 1775; the great mapmaker David Thompson came to Fort Espérance in 1797; Daniel Harmon and Peter Fidler visited in the early 1800's. Scientific explorers Palliser, Hind, and Macoun came later searching for agricultural promise in the prarie soil.
In 1874 Treaty 4 was signed with the Cree and Saulteaux smoothing the way for the settlement of this area. In the early days trade goods were transported by Red River carts pulled by oxen. their trails crisscrossed this region, most leading from Fort Ellice at what is now St. Lazare. The South Qu'Appelle Trail from Fort Ellice led westward through St. Marthe and Elim districts. Fort Street in Rocanville is part of this trail. Railways replaced the Red River carts - the Northwest Rebellion had speeded its completion.
First came the surveyors in 1902. The townsite of Rocanville and the CPR station grounds were surveyed in November by G. McPhillips. The railroad reached Rocanville in 1903. Settlers flooded in so the population grew from 83 people in 1904 to 450 by 1920.
The town of Rocanville, incorprated in 1904, was named for our first postmaster, Rocan de Bastien, who was overseer of the village in 1904.
Rocanville has been a thriving farming district since settlement days with grain and cattle farming predominating. Then in the late 1960's a potash mine was developed and was in operation by Sept. 1970. Today there is considerable oil drilling activity as well. Manufacturing thrives in Rocanville with Goodman Steel and Ironworks. The famous Symons Oilers were manufactured here for over 60 years. Diversification has occurred and you will find milk farmers, elk and fallow deer producers, as well as several beekeepers.