Oxbow Memorial Hall

Posted on Thursday September 06, 2012 at 05:05PM

I was so surprised that there is no story in either of the Oxbow history books on the Hall, as it has been such a big part of the Oxbow history for so many years.

Please forgive me if I, Michael Bartolf, do not get all the facts on the hall in chronological order & that specific dates are missing, as I am doing this from memory.

When we the Bartolf family came to Oxbow in March of 1934, Oxbow was a very different looking place than it is now. The most promient feature were the sloughs that dotted the town. Some were full of water most of the eyar, especially after a moderate rain fall. When I drive through the town now, I remark to myself, well that was where one of the big sloughs was located.

Getting back to the Hall, it was the location of the hitchingpost where the farm buggies and wagons, and in the winter time where the the teams, sleighs and cutters were parked while the saddle horses were tied to the narrower section that faced the back of where the old skating rink was located, now Murray Motors.

It was some time after World War II was over and the British Commonwealth Air Training facility was closed sout of estevan that the buildings on the training facility became available to the neighboring towns to be purchased and rebuilt into local facilities. Oxbow and another town purchased the Drill Hall, drewa up plans, dismantled the building, brought the sections here to Oxbow, and reassembled them on an already-built concrete basement, into the present Oxbow Memorial Hall. This did not happen by magic or overnight and it took more than a year to complete. It was through the local artisans and the many volunteers who were ready and willing to assistethem that finally their dream of the Memorial Hall was to become a reality as a fitting moonument to the many men from Oxbow, who not only paid the supreme sacrifice, but, also those who so willingly served their country.

I recall, that one cool fall day being asked to go along with Mr. William Morrish in the Inter Ocean Grain truck and and several other cadets to assist in getting gravel from the town pit from the south river hill, to finish the cement floor in the hall. Oxbow was fortunate to receive the steam heating plant. It was housed in addition that was added onto the centre of the east side of the hall. It did not take too long to realize that this heating play was way too big to only heat the hall.

An agreement was reached with the rink board and the waiting rooms were moved from the east to the west side of the rink, next to the hall furnace room. For a number of years a janitor was hired to look after the heating of both of these town facilities during the wintertime.

With the rink being condemned in eitehr 1959 or 1960, and the availability of natural gas in town, the steam heating plant became obsolete, so it was replaced by a gas fired hot air system, whic ran along the east wall of the hall, thus making the old coal fired heating plant obsolete, as well as the janitor who looked after it in the winter time.

When the hall became fully functional, the "King Edward Hall" above the hardware, barber shop and pool hall was also phased out, thus the long set of outside stairs with their inherent dangers, especially in the wintertime were also eliminated. Many of us recall the "Armistice Day" celebrations which were held in the United Church for so many years. Whenever I enter the Church these wonderful mameories keep flooding back. After the church service, we Cadets formed an honor guard on the church steps as all left the church. Marching to the Cenotaph, which was on the brow of the hill at the end of Main Street and also across the railway. It boggles my mind how our Town Policemen, Mr. George Savage and his helper Mr. Frank Harrison, always had the street clean of snow and an area around the Cenotaph cleared so we Army Cadets were able to have enough room to form the honor guard while the closing ceremonies were being held there.

After the closing ceremonies when everyone left, we cadets marched to our "Drill Hall," the former Methodist Church which is now the present Anglican church.

With the demise of the Oxbow Memorial Hall July 6, 2012 with its many memories and many other Community Clubs that have been housed there, (Masons, Legion, Legion Auxillary, etc.) as well as the many town and personal celebrations that have been held there over the past 64 years will pass into history. It will become part of the "Do You Remember" weekly column in the Oxbow Herald, for the young people as many of us do today.

Author: Town of Oxbow

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