The town was a much different place when long-time resident Anne Hryniuk was born in her family’s home along the shores of Lac La Ronge in 1936.
“People lived far apart and there were only a couple of stores,” she said, noting the permanent population at the time was around 50. “It was a small community and there are very few of those original people my age. They’re all gone or moved away.”
Born to businessman Chris Olsen and his wife, Ida McKay, Hryniuk started attended class at the All Saints Day School when she was five years old, while the First Nations children went to the nearby All Saints Residential School. With Grade 9 being the highest education she could receive in La Ronge at the time, her parents paid for Hryniuk and her siblings to complete high school in Prince Albert.
By the time Hryniuk moved back to La Ronge in 1964, she noted there had already been big changes since the 1930s. The highway linking the town with southern Saskatchewan was completed, although mostly in a gravel state, in 1948, then electricity came to La Ronge via a private business in the 1950s. When the Anglo-Rouyn Mine opened northeast of La Ronge in 1966, water and sewer followed not long after. Hryniuk said during this time, mining exploration was a major employer for the local workforce.
“There were more and more people moving into town who came with the mine,” she said.
With all of the knowledge and memories Hryniuk has of La Ronge, she wants to write a book to ensure some of what she knows isn’t forgotten. Hryniuk has collected photographs of La Ronge as it changed throughout the years and believes it’s important the history lives on is some way. As for the future of the town, she thinks there will be further growth and development.
“They’re very diverse and welcoming to seeing changes,” Hryniuk said about the people of La Ronge. “The only thing that hasn’t changed is the older people still fish and trap, but it’s very limited now.”
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