St.Gregor, Saskatchewan – What’s the secret to keeping a rural town of 100 people viable? A community meeting place.
“You need a meeting place to connect. It becomes the hub for everyone both young and old,” says St. Gregor farmer, Tracy Mollenbeck.
So, when word spread that the hotel — which also housed the local post office — was shutting down, the St. Gregor Community Hall became the only meeting place. In the fear of losing it too, Mollenbeck nominated the hall for the Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities (CFGC) grant.
“It felt like somebody knew just how badly we needed it,” she said, referring to the moment she found out they’d won. “The $2,500 is huge for us and will keep us operating for another year.”
The grant has allowed the hall to act not only as a space for events, but as a post office, coffee shop and general store. It was renamed The St. Gregor Store.
“By the attendance in the coffee shop, you can tell everyone is happy to have their gathering place again,” says Brad Michel, head of the St. Gregor Store committee.
Michel, who also manages the local company, Michel’s Industries Ltd., says keeping the post office opened has allowed for small-business like his own to continue to thrive.
“If we had had to close it, drop-offs and pick-ups would have to be done in neighbouring towns. It would cause a lot of inconvenience,” he explained.
BBQs, theme nights, community fundraisers, pancake breakfasts and activity workshops for youth and are only a few of the dynamic ways the St. Gregor Store has been utilized since receiving the grant.
“Grants from projects like CFGC keep our small town alive…. It’s just so amazing to see the community come together the way they have,” Michel says.