The train's whistle still blows as it chugs its way through the village of Togo, as it has for the past century. But much else has changed.
Togo was originally named Pelly Siding because of the nearby Pelly Trail, part of the Hudson Bay Trail that ran from Fort Ellis, Manitoba, to Fort Pelly. Red River carts hauled tons of freight over this trail, and left grooves as deep as the axles. Today a tiny section of the Old Pelly Trail still remains; it is located a quarter mile west of Togo. Those who stop to see these grooves of history can maybe catch a glimpse of the pioneers who had dreams of a better life in Canada.
In the early part of the century, when the railroads were built across the Northwest Territories, settlements were established. Pelly Siding was located on the Canadian Northern Railways (CNR) main line that ran from Winnipeg to Edmonton.
In 1906 the Russo-Japanese war was raging and two names stood out, Admiral Togo of the Japanese fleet and General Makaroff of Russia. In 1906 Pelly Siding was incorporated as a village and renamed Togo after the Japanese admiral, and the next town to the east on the CNR line was named Makaroff in honour of the Russian general.
Togo was the hub of this agricultural area. It had grain elevators, postal service, medical services, hardware and general stores, a bakery and financial institution. It was a bustling community that experienced tremendous growth with the daily arrival of immigrants from other parts of the world seeking their fortune.
One of those immigrants was Reginald John Marsden Parker, who came to Canada at the age of 17 from Liskeard, Cornwall, England. He gained employment in the area as a hired farm hand and at the age of 19 began the operation of his own farm. In 1945 after being involved for many years with the politics of Saskatchewan, Reginald Parker was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of the province.
Many of the descendants of the original settlers of the Togo area still live in and around the community. They fondly recall an era that played an integral role in creating the fabric of Saskatchewan.
Today Togo has a slower pace of life than it did a century ago, but some things still remain, as they do in many small prairie towns: the local hotel, the curling and skating rink, the post office...
And the people-people with a character that is unique to those living on the Canadian prairies.