Historic firewall in Ogema, Sask., destroyed by windstorm

·2 min read

Residents in the town of Ogema, Sask., were shocked after an enormous windstorm knocked down a historic landmark this week.

On Thursday, people in the town woke up to find its 28-foot-tall firewall completely destroyed by winds that had gusted well above 100 km/h.

The mayor says it's a huge loss for the community.

"It was very iconic," said Mayor Carol Prentice.

"People come from all around just to look at it. It's something that wasn't just in every little town."

The firewall was built in 1915 to protect the town after a large fire.

"In January 1915, a fellow's lamp tipped over and started a fire. And we lost one side of Main Street because they were all wooden buildings," said Prentice.

"So the townspeople thought if we build a firewall on one side and a fire hall on the other, then we wouldn't lose the whole side of Main Street if there had to be another fire."

The wall was designed by R.J. Lecky, the construction superindendant of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, and cost the town $4,600 to build, a sizable amount of money in those days.

While there were several firewalls built across the province, Prentice said she believes only two of them were still standing before Ogema's was destroyed.

Prentice doesn't believe the wall will ever be rebuilt, as doing so would be too expensive.

"A few years ago, we had a few cracks in it, so we finally found a mason that was able to repair it. And just that little bit of repair work was $18,000," she said.

"So, I'm thinking it might be cost prohibitive, just because there's so many other things we need in the town right now."