Buffalo Narrows from the air, (1950) showing the
nursing station (foreground left),
and the Roman Catholic Mission and school
(Photo: J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing).
Buffalo Narrows is experiencing economic growth and good times, for the most part, at the present time. In the past, the community has experienced the boom of the 1950's, as well as the bust of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Employment, demographics, housing, the number and type of institutions and the number and type of businesses located in Buffalo Narrows, give a good reflection of the economic well-being of the community.
At the present time, about seventy percent of the work force of Buffalo Narrows is employed. Fifty-one percent of the towns work force is employed by the various levels of government. Twenty-one percent of the work force is employed at fishing (fourteen percent) and trapping (seven percent), while the private sector accounts for twenty-eight percent of the work force. These statistics may not seem all that good, but by Northern Saskatchewan standards, Buffalo Narrows is quite well off.
Buffalo Narrows has a population of one thousand one hundred and thirty-six people at the present time. In recent years the birth rate has been declining. The town has a very small percentage of elderly people (three percent) as compared to the province as a whole, (eleven percent) and a high percentage of people under twenty years of age (fifty-five percent) as compared to the provincial average (forty-one percent). It does, however appear as though Buffalo Narrows is moving closer to the provincial profile as time goes on. (i.e. The percentage of elderly people is increasing, while the birth rate is decreasing.) In 1977, forty-eight percent of the residents of Buffalo Narrows had lived there all of their lives, while twenty-eight percent had moved there in recent years (teachers and government workers). This illustrates that the population of Buffalo Narrows has been relatively stable over the years, despite a fairly heavy out-migration of young people seeking employment.
In 1978, Buffalo Narrows had two hundred and twenty-nine single family dwellings. Of these, fifty percent were single family homes in good condition, while thirty percent were single family houses in poor condition and twenty percent was made up of mobile homes. Since 1978, the total number of homes in good condition has increased. The Department of Northern Saskatchewan has built an eight unit apartment complex and is constructing an even larger complex at the north end of town. In other words, Buffalo Narrows is getting an ever increasing number of good houses as time marches on.
The Twin Lakes School has a population of about three hundred students from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. There are seventeen teachers and four NORTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program) students employed in the school.
The Buffalo Narrows Clinic has five full-time nurses and two part-time nurses on staff. Doctors visit the clinic from the hospital at Ile-A-La-Crosse three times a week. With it's central location on the west side of Saskatchewan, Buffalo Narrows may be in line for a full service hospital, in the not too distant future. Buffalo Narrows is served by Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Northern Canada Evangelical Mission (N.C.E.M.) churches. The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest and largest of the three. Most of the residents of Buffalo Narrows are Roman Catholics. The N.C.E.M. Church is much smaller but has served the community for many years. St. Marks Presbyterian Church is the newest of the three churches and has only had a full-time minister for a short period of time.
The recreation Board consists of interested local residents who have donated their time to try to improve the recreational facilities in town. In 1977-78 a full time recreation director was hired. The existing recreational facilities include a school gymnasium, a two-sheet indoor curling rink, the B.N.A.C. hall which is used primarily for dances and bingos, the school playground, a billiard hall, a ball diamond on Pedersen's Bay, and a new recreational facility at the school consists of a track, two ball diamonds and a soccer field. Construction was recently begun on a new recreation complex located near the school. In addition, the Metis Society plans to open a drop in center for young people in the near future.
The present local government consists of a seven member Local Community Authority with Richard Waite as Overseer. D.N.S. has recently unveiled a number of alternative schemes for local government
(Options "80") which could change this situation. The L.C.A. has recently moved into a new office building.
The provincial government has several regional branch offices in Buffalo Narrows. D.N.S. has offices for Resources, Social Services, Maintenance and Operations. Economic Development and Northern Housing Branches. In addition, North Sask Electric and Sask Tel have local offices.
The Federal government maintains an Indian Health Office in the Community.
The R.C.M.P. have several officers stationed in Buffalo Narrows. These officers operate out of an office building which also houses a jail.
Buffalo Narrows has the potential to become a regional center. The Department of Northern Saskatchewan seems to have recognized this fact by placing several district and regional offices here. Perhaps the Uranium mining companies will follow suit.