Govenlock was once a small village of 151 people in RM of Reno No. 51, Saskatchewan, Canada. It previously held the status of a village until January 1, 1976. The former townsite of Govenlock is located on Highway 21 & Highway 13 also known as the historic Red Coat Trail, about 15 km east of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Very little remains of the former village of Govenlock, many cement foundations and wooden sidewalks can still be found scattered around the town site, the only building that still stands as of 2010 is the old community hall and a commemorative plaque to remember Govenlock's rich history.
Govenlock, like so many other small communities throughout Saskatchewan, has struggled to maintain a sturdy population causing it to become a completely abandoned "ghost town" with a population of 0 citizens. Prior to January 1, 1976, Govenlock was incorporated under village status, but was dissolved into an unincorporated community under the jurisdiction of the Rural municipality of Reno on that date.
In 2006, Govenlock had a population of 0 living in 0 dwellings, a 0% increase from 2001. The community had a land area of 0.00 km2 (0 sq mi) and a population density of 0.0/km2 (0/sq mi).
In 1910, a Moose Jaw resident by the name of William Govenlock moved to the area with his family after applying for a homestead. They were one of the first pioneer families of Southwest Saskatchewan. In 1913, William negotiated a land deal with the Canadian Pacific Railway, starting a new town later named in his honour. That same year William established a post office for the area, with his wife Bessie as the first postmaster.
In 1914 a pioneer named John Linder built Govenlock's first Hotel. The hotel stood two stories tall with ten rooms. Three years later a man named James Gaff stopped at the Hotel for a rest; after finding out that no rooms were available James immediately purchased the hotel for $4,500.
Even though the liquor trade was big business during that time, Govenlock's future looked promising even without the steady stream of liquor. The town boasted its impressive CPR station, section house, a few grain elevators, two general stores, blacksmith shops, a livery barn, two machine agencies, pool room, laundromat, school, meat shop, a service station selling Model T Fords, and a hotel. Most of these businesses were connected by wooden sidewalks, a common feature in the pioneer prairie days.
Due to Montana's prohibition declaration in 1919 large groups of Americans traveled north from Montana to Govenlock by train after making it across the border.
Indicating that Govenlock had a promising future, the pioneer town had a chamber of commerce. But it was the liquor that fueled Govenlock's commerce. Four liquor warehouses were established to serve the booming liquor trade. With liquor, there was gambling and parties, attracting not only the thirsty folks from across the border, but many bachelors from all parts of Southwestern Saskatchewan who wanted to let loose.
Over the years a pool room and dance hall which was a two-story building was built and owned by Henry Buss. During the early days of Govenlock, it was a place for Americans to meet and relax. As the Americans were waiting for their liquor orders, many would drop in, mingle with the business crowd in Govenlock, and settle down for a game of pool, and a game of high-stakes poker.
The revelry and good times were staples in Govenlock during their early days. The eager booze traders were also a staple in Govenlock. Americans would come to the pioneer town in their Fords, Studebakers, Packards, and Hudsons. The empty cars' rears were filled with sand bags until they filled up at the liquor houses. This was done to avoid suspicion when they rode empty of booze. The Canadian beer cost 12 cents per barrel and was said to be highly prized. Each barrel had three burlap sacks, with 24 four-quart bottles - wrapped in straw - in each sack. A barrel wholesaled for $24. When it reached the United States, it sold for $140. A carload of 14 barrels of beer and five cases of whiskey could fetch a profit of $2,500.
The bootlegging trade was good business for the next number of years and there were few legal hassles for the rumrunners. Mounties and provincial police would intervene to ensure that the liquor would end up in the hands of locals before crossing the United States border. Even a few of the Govenlock residents tried their hand at bootlegging, but they soon found out that more of the liquor was stolen than they could actually sell. To avoid legal problems, bootleggers would have to obtain a tourist pass at Canada border entry points.
When 1922 rolled around, so did the end of bootlegging that fueled Govenlock's prosperity. It was then that the Government of Saskatchewan announced it wanted better control of the liquor trade and restricted liquor export houses to cities with 10,000 people or more. This saw the start of a slow end of the once promising pioneer town of Govenlock. Over the years and one by one, stores and shops would soon close and residents would leave. In 1962 the only grain elevator left in Govenlock toppled and demolished. By 1990, rural municipality officials brought in the bulldozers and demolished the last of the remaining buildings that stood in Govenlock, including the old Govenlock Hotel. Today however the only building left is the community hall which was built in 1948. Also a commemorative plaque marks the area where Govenlock was located. It honors Govenlock's wild past and wild spirit of their hell-raising pioneer days.William Govenlock - One of the first pioneer residents of Govenlock