Elk Point before 1930
Soon after Charles Hood settled on his quarter section of land where Peter Andrishak now lives, he established Elk Point's first post office. Prior to this time, the early settlers had to go as far as Vegreville for their mail and supplies. The first ferry across the North Saskatchewan River in our area began operating in 1908, about three miles west of our present bridge. It was called Hopkins Ferry. It gave the early settlers an outlet to the south and made Vermilion a key shopping area for supplies unavailable in Elk Point.
About this time a few businesses began operating in Elk Point. In the early years, Elk Point's main street ran east and west, just the opposite of today's main street. Most of the original places of business were centered in the area of our main highway. Jim Babcock opened up a store on the corner where the tourist booth now stands and another store, Johnson Bros., was in operation where our Petro Canada service centre is located. These two stores were able to supply the residents of Elk Point as well as the surrounding settlers with most of their daily needs.
In 1916, Oran Caskey built a two storey hotel where the Beattie residence stands. The following year, his mother Frances 'Ma' Caskey took over the hotel and for many years after, she supplied rooms and meals to the public. Immediately west of the hotel, Charles Hood had erected a hardware store then moved his post office into the building from his farm. On this same street and to the west of Hoods' hardware store, the following places of business were built: the Markstad Implement Shop, the Bank of Commerce and a hall which was used for various functions.
To the west and across the intersection on the north side of the street were the Babcock store, C. A. Johnsons's store and a stopover house or hotel operated by Hector Plante. Still further west, a blacksmith shop owned by Bill Wardrope and to the extreme west the C. J. Markstad residence.
To the south of the Caskey Hotel stood the J. B. Caskey livery barn, and to the west, Oran Caskey's garage and the Johnson Bros. store. Outside of a few residences, this pretty well made up the hamlet of Elk Point up to 1919..
On March 1, 1922, the entire block, consisting of the hall. Bank of Commerce, Markstad's Implement Shop and Hood's hardware and post office all burned to the ground. The residents of the hamlet fought this blaze with buckets of water drawn from nearby wells. Other fire fighting equipment was unavailable at that time. The fire was finally brought under control just before it reached the Caskey Hotel.
My first glimpse of Elk Point was late in 1925 when my father, William Andrishak, arrived on the scene. The hamlet had entirely changed from what had been described up to 1919.
The burned out block had-been partially rebuilt with another Hood's Hardware and post office, and a drug store and ice cream parlor operated by Bruce MacDonald. The burned out Bank of Commerce was never rebuilt, banking was shifted to St. Paul and Vermilion. C. J. Markstad had relocated to the corner where the Wolanuk store is located. Immediately to the east of the store, Markstad had erected a building to house his Ford agency as well as his IHC agency.
On the northwest corner of our present highway intersection, Joe Carrier had opened up a pool hall and a barbering business, in the building which had previously housed the Jim Babcock store. Next to him was the C. A. Johnson store and further west was the Dr. F. G. Miller residence. Dr. F. G. Miller had started his medical practice in Elk Point in 1920 and used his residence for this purpose until he moved into a building just east of where the United Church now stands. This building served as his office as well as a hospital. The Plante Hotel to the west had burned down and was never rebuilt. Across the street on the south side of where our tourist booth stands was a Chinese restaurant operated by Sam Lee and to the west of him was a store operated by Raymond Keitges, and further west, a livery barn owned by the Drake family.
The hamlet didn't grow much until the arrival of the railroad in 1927. Prior to this, some of the business places located in the east part of the hamlet started to move their premises to our present main street location.The Caskey Hotel was moved by Grant Arnold, a local mover, using steel pipe placed under the building and pulled by teams of horses. It was a real undertaking at the time and was watched by many people. This hotel stood for many years on the lot where the Empress Restaurant now stands.
Elk Point experienced a real boom in 1927 just prior to the arrival of the railroad. The following places of business were built: the Hayward Lumber Co., Soldan's Garage, MacDonald's Drug Store, the Alberta Hotel, Wm. Andrishak's General Store, Walter Johnson's Meat Market, the F. E. Van Arnam Real Estate office, Imperial Lumber Co., a cafe later operated by Joe Mah. and the post office which had just changed hands and was operated by Joseph Quinn. With three new grain elevators, the UGG, the Victoria Elevator Co. and the Alberta Pool, as well as a new creamery half a mile south, we all thought Elk Point was becoming a small city. However, it was just a small, thriving hamlet.