Togo, Saskatchewan

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.

 

When the railways on the prairies were built in the early 1900s, stations were stablished every seven miles, and named by the builder in charge. Along one stretch in eastern Saskatchewan, several communities received Japanese names: Togo, Mikado and Kuroki.

Togo was named for Heihachiro Togo, a Japanese admiral and Japan's greatest naval hero, referred to as "the Nelson of the Orient" for his wartime exploits. In fact, a lock of Nelson's hair, given by Britain's National Maritime Museum in 1981, rests with a similar lock of Togo's hair at the Japanese Naval Academy at Etajima.

Admiral Togo(1847-1934) was born into a Samurai family in Kagoshima. He was a great admirer of the British naval tradition and although his birth place had been bombarded by the British in 1863, he chose to study with the British Navy during 1871-78.

It was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 which brought him to the stellar position which he occupies in Japanese naval history. His resounding victory over the Russians at Tsushima when Russia's Baltic fleet of 49 vessels was destroyed effectively ended the Czar's aspirations in the Far East.

1905 was also the year the village of Togo was founded in eastern Saskatchewan, and named for him.