Piapot and Area

Chief Piapot

Chief Piapot was a powerful and respected Chief; the leader of a camp of Cree-Assiniboine people. The Natives were quite resentful of the white man building a railroad that would bring settlers and homesteaders through their hunting grounds and drive them out.

Chief Piapot decided to put a stop to that, so either in late 1882 or early 1883 he staked his tipi down on the railroad right of way, near what is now the village of Piapot, and he refused to move. Railroad officials were unable to force the determined old Chief to move off their right of way. The Mounted Police at Fort Walsh, 55 miles away to the west, were called to try to move the Chief. When the two Mounted Police arrived they gave Piapot 15 minutes to take down and move his tipi off the right of way, or ELSE, but the Chief still refused to move. The two police circled his tipi with their lariat ropes and drug it, and his belongings through ashes and dirt, off the right of way. The poor defeated Chief set off on foot along the trail in an easterly direction. 

from “A Cold Wind Foretold, Fate of First Nations People” by Harry Forbes                   –   

  Piapot (Payepot) was born to a Cree mother and an Assiniboine father in 1816; shortly after his birth his parents died of smallpox. When he was a small boy he and his grandmother were captured by a band of Sioux, with whom he lived for the next fourteen years until he was rescued by a Cree war party.

  Piapot became a chief and was part of a group of chiefs who wanted a large reservation surveyed for them in the Cypress Hills area. Canada, however, feared the concentration of a large Indian population in one area and refused. As a result, Piapot was eventually forced to select a home in the Qu’Appelle Valley, where a reserve of 45 squares miles was surveyed -well short of the 110 square miles his band was entitled to under the Treaty.

  Throughout the rest of his life Piapot continually fought to have treaty rights recognized. He repeatedly challenged the Canadian government by holding ceremonies. “If you promise not to worship your God in your way, I’ll promise not to worship my God in my way.” For this he spent time in Regina jail. Officials removed Piapot from his position as chief because he held a Sun Dance on hisreservation, which was against the restrictions the government had put on the First Nation people. But on the day the Order-in-Council was passed he died, somehow asserting his autonomy and demonstrating he would not be controlled. He died on his reserve in 1908.

Compiled by Jen Zollner, from Indigenous Saskatchewan Encyclopedia, internet


1860-1870 -Rupert’s Land (Prince Rupert’s Land) was a territory in British North America comprising the Hudson’s Bay drainage basin. It was operated by the Hudson’s Bay Co.

1967 -Canada became a country (confederation of Ontario, Quebec, NB & NS)

1870 -Canada paid Hudson’s Bay Co 300,000 pounds for Rupert’s Land, now named British North America

1872 -Dominion Lands Act for settlers. A railway is needed to bring settlers and goods out West. It’s also the means by which to secure British Columbia as part of Canada.

1882 -District of Assiniboia was created, Piapot was part of West Assiniboia

1882 (late) or early 1883   -Chief Piapot unsuccessfully tried to stop railroad construction by refusing to move his tipi off the CPR right of way, (from “A Cold Wind Foretold” by Harry Forbes).

1885 -for steam locomotives, CPR built a dam on Bear Creek with a pump house and water  tank nearby. This would be the Crane Lake Station where freight and mail was brought.

1887 -Sir Lister Kaye established ten ’76 ranches, one of which was at Crane Lake

1890 -Crane Lake Farm was headquarters of the cattle operation

1894 -a Methodist church was built in the Bear Creek District

1908 -railroad moved to its present location

1910 -water tank was moved near the railroad

1909 -Crane Lake became headquarters for the ’76 Ranches

1910 -townsite of Piapot bought from the then owners of 76 Ranches, was near the old #1   highway, is 1 mile south of the present #1 highway

-village and west bank of the creek named after Chief Piapot

1910 -livery barn built (horses and oxen being the mode of travel at that time)

-Sine Lumberyard & Coal Sales built (later known as Revelstoke, Atlas)

-first store built (Tompkins Supply Co, bought by JA Bowie in 1912, destroyed by fire in 1923)

-first Board of Trade organized (built the first sidewalks, were board sidewalks, graded the dirt streets

-first blacksmith shop, pool room with soft drinks, confectionary, etc.

-first building in Piapot was Benson’s restaurant, real estate and insurance office

1911 -Massey-Harris Implement Shop built with a dance hall above it

1911 -United Grain Growers organized to improve the lots of the farmer and prevent   Winnipeg Grain Exchange from taking undue share of the profits from wheat. Meetings were attended by men and women. With guest speakers, debates and a library, it served as a social, educational and financial benefit.

1912 -Mr Benson’s building became the first post office. He was the postmaster there 42 yrs.

1912 -first hotel, 2 banks, a third store, a shoe repair shop, a 2nd lumberyard painting and decorating business

1912 -rail station was built in Piapot; previously freight and mail was brought from the Crane Lake Station

-Piapot was incorporated, first village council was organized

1912 -two-room brick school was built

-first Piapot Sports Day (after that held June 3rd every year). Had a parade having each rural school march with their banner, business floats, football, horse races, children’s races etc. It ended with a dance in Massey Hall.

1913 -first grain elevator was Ogilvie (Piapot had 5 elevators at one time)

-first doctor operated an office and drug store (At intervals, the nearest doctor available was in Maple Creek 24 km away. Various nurses who lived in the area

administered first aid, gave immunization needles and administered to the sick.

-Piapot had it’s first resident minister. In 1914 the United Church basement was dug and services were held there until the church building was completed.

-newly formed Football Club joined the SW Sask League consisting of 6 teams. In 1919 the Piapot District League of 4 teams was formed.

1914 -Piapot’s first school (as indicated by their first teacher). Perhaps it was earlier that the first school house was built 2 miles NW of Piapot, later moved to Piapot (It was a private school with expenses paid for by private donations)

1914 -Piapot Red Cross was formed

-Anglican Church was built with stained glass windows and altar cloths from England

      -Odd Fellows Lodge was instituted. The building burned down in 1932 or 33; was rebuilt

1917      -a teaming and draying business alongside the livery stable. One part of their business was cutting ice on the CPR dam and delivering it to the ice houses of businesses and residents for them to use during the summer. They packed the ice in sawdust.

1919      -Imperial bank was built

 -Piapot branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was formed. Wages paid to build the                    cenotaph in 1933 were $2.50 a day. The helper got $1.00 a day.

1919-1938      -Tennis Club was started. The two courts had packed clay bases that were almost as good as cement.

Early 1920’s -many new businesses: harness & shoe repair, another blacksmith shop, 3 stores, RW Allen JP who gave legal advice, sold insurance, handled mortgages and was          the agency for flowers, garden plants and shrubs.

-a golf course was set up on the town’s western outskirts with gravel greens and                           mowed fairways

1920s?-disastrous moving of a house across the CPR dam. Many good horses were lost. The  house was raised and served as a dwelling in Piapot. Later it served as a residence in      Maple Creek.

1920      -small electrical plant installed first to the businesses then to the residential section. It gave  power from dark to midnight every day and on Mondays from 7 AM to noon (for the ladies to do the laundry)

-baseball team was formed. One catcher is said to have lined his mitt with a thick beef           steak for extra padding

1923      -first Piapot Cemetery Committee was formed financed by the RM, Red Cross and other donations. In 1933 wages were raised to 30 cents an hour from the previous 25 cents. There is still a committee and twice a year a bee so the grounds are well-kept.

1925      -Catholic Church building completed. Before this masses were held at homes, Stillwater School, Piapot School and Massey Hall.

1928      -Head-on collision of two CPR steam locomotives at Sidewood near Piapot. One man and many cattle were killed.

1930      -Rebekah Lodge was chartered

      -was a 90% eclipse from 12:10 pm to 1:30 pm on April 28th.

      -a plane carrying important government mail had a trial landing near Piapot on the                         emergency landing field they had made. This pioneered airmail in Canada.

1948      -Ladies Auxilliary To the Legion was formed

      -Piapot Hospital Aid was formed. They then joined the district and provincial organizations to augment the needs of the Maple Creek Hospital.

1950      -Sask Power Corporation provided 24-hour electric service

1951      -a second dam was built further up Bear Creek and a new pump house was erected.

1958      -John Gold and his employees at Wheel-In Service began building a playground near his business by the #1 Highway creatively using parts of old farm implements. In 1962   the Saskatchewan Department of Highways erected signage to notify travellers of the public playground, campsite and picnic spot. It’s no longer there.

1959      -a new 2-sheet curling rink replaced the old one that had one sheet. In 1965 artificial ice was installed.

1976      -Senior Citizen Club formed for all 50 years or older, their meeting place, Piapot Legion Hall

2007      -Piapot elementary school closed, students bused to Maple Creek

2012      -Piapot celebrated their centennial

Piapot in 1979:

      Piapot was a briskly growing village at one time. It thrived on the excellent CPR service from east to west. But after WWII the CPR pulled its service, the Maple Creek School Unit grabbed the high school, the bank walked off, the lumberyard slipped away and the local telephone exchange was promoted to Swift Current.

      But Piapot folks are doing what they can to survive. They sold shares in order to have a Piapot General Store. Their empty telephone office is now a public library connected with the Regional Library in Swift Current. In place of a bank they have the Credit Union two days a week.

Though the churches are closed, worshippers go to Maple Creek for services and join their organizations. There is still a local Hospital Auxiliary working with the Maple Creek hospital. The school has 50 students, the Community College is active and 4-H Pinstickers are still going strong. The cemetery is well kept and the Piapot column in the Maple Creek News lets folks know that Piapot has a social life to be envied. Each week has a full schedule. Piapot is more alive than the people who claim it isn’t.  – from pp 31-32 in Piapot Prairie Trails

Piapot Now:

Piapot’s RM population of 302 and the town’s population of 50 hasn’t changed that much over recent years. Piapot is still 24 km from Maple Creek, is still a half-mile above sea level and is still on Central Standard Time that doesn’t change to Daylight Saving Time.

The Older is Still Present:

      -the curling rink has to two sheets of artificial ice with regular and bonspiel curling

      -the Lion’s club is still active, 28+ members

      -the Bear Creek 4-H Club has a dozen-plus members each year that are learning

        by doing

      -there’s still a Lakeview Street though there’s no lake in sight

      -the RM office and shop still maintains the municipality

      -there is abundant wildlife: coyotes, deer, antelope, pelicans, gophers, etc.

      -The former Piapot Hotel is where you used to find wildlife

There is a New-Energy Emerging:


            -it’s now Old School Vintage, an antique, eclectic, second-hand store

            -the bricks have been refaced, the roof fixed, it’s being remodelled

            -the adjacent Last Chance and Crane schools are museums

      -post office is a new building now

            -the old post office beside it is a classic western false-faced building

      -pink church

            -is a private residence now

            -it’s a brighter shade of pink now (a compromise when the wife loves red and the                         husband doesn’t think he wants a red house)

      -legion hall

            -is still available for celebrations and special occasions

            -it now is scheduled to have weekly church services

      -saloon, Piapot Saloon

            -has authentic Old Western decor like out of a western novel

            -has all the local cattle brands posted above the bar

            -embraces western heritage and culture while offering drinks and food


            -there are no vacant houses in Piapot

            -the properties are fenced and fixed up

            -recently residents chose house numbers in order to get courier service. The

                  saloon owner chose #44 because it’s his favourite number (before this                               parcels went to the post office box)

            -a couple from Edson recently built a new 3-story house to retire here. The flower                         bed in front of their house is beautiful.

            -a doctor from Maple Creek recently built a new house with large windows from                               which to view the Cypress Hills to the south and to the east


            -friendly down-home folks who take the time to visit

            -come from a wide range of experiences and from places across Canada

Notables That Came/Come From Piapot:

Lyle Sanderson (1939 – 2018)

      -legendary track and field coach for U of S in Saskatoon for 39 years

            -was 10 times Husky Coach of the Year

      -won many other coach-of-the-year awards

      -coached Canadian athletes for the Olympics, Commonwealth Games & Pan-Am games

Bruce Bowie (retired in 2018)

      -a radio legend, last 21 years on 630 CHED Edmonton, morning host

      -spent 47 years on-the-air

      -conducted first Canadian Peacekeeper radio show, Bosnia     

      -awards from the broadcasting world, for volunteering & for community enrichment

Joe Braniff (career started in 1986)

      -an award winning, world known rodeo announcer

      -has been a rodeo announcer in every corner of North America and in Australia

      -announced locally at Lancer, Swift Current, Consul, Maple Creek, Calgary, Sundry, etc

      -was 7-time Pro Rodeo Announcer of the Year

      -this Maple Creek resident still has a Piapot mailing address

Bowie Family Mercantile Store

      -was THE store in Piapot for 63 years (until 1975)

      -it was John A Bowie that purchased it from Tompkins Supply Store in 1912

      -if you couldn’t get it at Bowie’s store, you didn’t need it

Dale Friesen

      -local gunsmith and collector of steam engines

Glen Bonnet

      -owner of Piapot Saloon with authentic western decor

      -recent import from Ottawa

      -professional photographer and musician on instruments stringed

      -avid gardener and grower of his own tobacco (dries, cures and rolls it)

      -maker of race car simulator and builder of a ’56 Harley from the ground up

      -fantastic cook

Mary Ann McNalley

      -owner of ‘Old School Vintage’ in the old brick schoolhouse

      -collector of all things vintage, strange, unusual and ordinary

      -recent import from Victoria

      -former journalist, a photographer and freelance writer

Jillian Rosenberg

      -recent organizer of local church services in Piapot Legion Hall

      -a recent import, originally from Vancouver

      -has interesting religious and military experiences to share

School Tidbits

Country Schools:

      -were 24 school districts, about one school for each township

      -not always located in the centre; located where someone donated land for the school

      -each district hired their own teach

      -some schools had a teacherage; often the teacher boarded with a family near the school

      -school units were formed later in ?

            -east districts generally belonged to the Gull Lake School Unit

            -south districts became the East End School Unit

            -west districts were formed into the Maple Creek School Unit

Brick School in Piapot:

      -built in 1912, first teacher in 1914

      -was first a two-room school, later 2 more rooms added

      -two country schools were moved to serve as shop and band? classes

      -half was for the males, half for the females

            -it even had a split stairway

            -one playroom in the basement was for the boys, one for the girls

      -rural schools bused into Piapot about 1953

      -high school students were bused into Maple Creek in? Tompkins?

      -elementary students went to Maple Creek by bus in ?

                                    -info from “Piapot Prairie Trails” and various Piapot residents

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