What the Royal Lake Store was like
Royal Lake Store was a country store located 12 miles west of Leask in central Saskatchewan. It was built by Hungarian immigrants in the 1930s and, after changing ownership several times, closed in 1956.
During those years, there was a family living on every quarter section of land. Travel into Leask was lengthy and difficult, so there was a definite need for the services a country store provided. Gas pumps were installed to further meet the needs of the community. Travellers on their way to Emerald Lake Resort often stopped for gas and groceries.
The building was 24 by 30 feet in size with cedar shingles and wood siding. It was painted a cream colour with green trim. Inside, the walls were plastered then calcimined (whitewashed).
A tall board fence surrounded the store on three sides. Inside the fenced area there was a garage, a warehouse and a shed for barrels of coal oil. A small log barn housed the family cow.
An ice house was filled with blocks of ice that were cut from Royal Lake in the winter and packed in sawdust. A metal insulated cooler inside the store was used to keep grocery items cool, using these blocks of ice throughout the summer months.
Two-thirds of the building was used as the store and the other third was used for living quarters. The living area was divided into two rooms, a combined kitchen and dining area, and a bedroom. A dirt cellar underneath the living area provided further cool storage. The store part was heated by wood and the living area was warmed by the cook stove. On cold days, patrons would stand around the wood heater in the store to warm up and swap stories.
There was a hitching post out front to tie your horse, but many patrons just walked there in the summer. The store was open Monday through Saturday, as Sundays were reserved for going to church.