It was also at this time that Frank met and married Mary Rutherford. Mary, a native of Moose Jaw, had moved to Swift Current to operate the CPR dining room. At the time of their marriage, Mary was one of only six white women living in Swift Current.
A family soon started, with daughter Muriel being born in 1886 – the first white girl born in Swift Current. As the family grew, Frank began to consider settling down and his vision of a stopping-house at the Landing grew stronger. He resigned his position with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and began construction of the stone house in 1897.
Knowing that it would take time to complete the house, Mr. Goodwin went to the Landing and built a two-room cottage for him and his hired men. Mr. Laurence, from Maple Creek, was hired to assist the other three men in the construction of the stopping-house. Local Indians dug the basement, using picks and shovels, and built the foundation. They also gathered the stones for the house’s frame from the surrounding hills and hauled them by team and stoneboat to the site.
Each stone was cut and squared by chisels and hammers. Since cement was not available, a Métis man, Mr. LaRocque, built a lime kiln on the river bank, gathered limestone, and fired the kiln with wood for sixty days. As a stalilizer for the lime and sand, hair from horses, antelope, and deer was gathered from various Indian camps along the river.
Most of the lumber was obtained locally, in Swift Current and Moose Jaw. However, some was hauled from as far away as Vancouver. Mr. Laurence fashioned all of the beautiful woodwork and finishing, from the baseboard and window casings to the specially-designed staircase and bannisters. The house was designed like a hotel, with four rooms and a large hall constituting both the upstairs and the main floor. A summer kitchen was located at the back.
The basement was divided into two sections. One half contained cupboards, shelves, a plank, and wood-stove. This side was used for serving meals. The other half was divided into three rooms – one bricked up for milk and meat, one for a huge coal furnace, and for a storage and vegetable room. The house was surrounded by two closed-in and one open veranda. On the top of the house was an iron railing eight feet by eight feet and three feet high. On the birthday of a family member, a flag would fly from this point.
It took three years to complete the house. In 1900, the Goodwin Family, now numbering eight, moved into their new home. They had purchased 150 head of cattle from Mrs. Goodwin’s parents in Moose Jaw. These cattle were trailed cross-country to the river to start the ranch. Chickens and pigs were also acquired. Thus, work consisted of putting up hay, milking cows, churning butter, butchering animals,and cutting wood for fuel.
Only a short time after the Goodwins moved in, people began to trek into the north country to homestead. They were arriving from everywhere. Thus, the stone house was turned into a hotel with room and board. A large barn was built to accomodate as many as thirty-five horses at one time. The children often gave up their rooms, sleeping on cots in the veranda during the summer, and in the basement in the winter. Soon, a small store was added to the Goodwins’ house supplying such staples as flour, sugar, spices, tobacco, and candy were made available.
The stone house became a haven for weary travelers travelling to and from Swift Current for supplies. As roads were not always good, progress was slow. A man could travel about thirty miles a day with horses and only ten to twenty miles with oxen. Therefore, it was usually a four-day trip to Swift Current for the Kyle settlers. For the fee of one dollar, a traveller was given a bed, a supper, a breakfast, and shelter for his horse. With the settlers came the need for broken horses. Therefore, another responsibility of the Goodwin boys was taming wild horses and steers to pull the ploughs. Many of the animals that they broke came across the river and were sold to the homesteaders.
Even with the heavy work load, the Goodwin family always managed to take time for pleasure. For entertainment, people – some from a distance – would gather at the stone house. Dances would commence at eight o’clock in the evening and usually last all night long. No one would go home until morning for fear of becoming lost or frozen. Some of the dances were quite lavish, with formal gowns and suits being worn. On such special occasions as an engagement announcement, an orchestra from Swift Current would be hired.
n 1926 that the Saskatchewan Landing Post Office was relocated from the ferry to the stone house. Mrs. Goodwin became the first post-mistress. This also brought more people to the Goodwin house. Mail arrived from Swift Current twice a week. carriers were rarely late, bringing the mail even in the worst of weather. When the weather did slow progress, people waited patiently – even overnight – at the stone house for their mail to arrive.
The seven Goodwin children – except one who died in 1911 – eventually grew up, married, and moved away to make their own homes. Mr. Goodwin died in 1934, and Mrs. Goodwin in 1945. The Goodwins will long be remembered for their kindness and thoughtfulness to people far and near, for the hospitality they provided, for the shelter they offerred, and for the entertainment they initiated.
In 1928, Art and Besse Smith, of Swift Current, purchased the old Stone House from Mary Goodwin. They, along with their three children – Charles, Vern, and Margaret – carried on the operation of the house for the next thirty years. However, some changes were made, necessitated by the times. one of the first renovations was to move the kitchen and dining areas upstairs. After preparing and serving one meal in the dark, damp, poorly-lit basement, Mrs. Smith insisted that the change be made. The next day, Art Smith commenced constructing a kitchen on the main floor of the house. The large restaurant-style dining room was no longer necessary as the Stone House no longer served as a hotel. The Smith family did, however, continue to take in a few travelers for bed and breakfast.
The Goodwin cattle, pigs, and chickens were replaced by a market garden. Art Smith acquired the land along the river which ran adjacent to the stone house. Here, he established a large commercial garden. The location was ideal as the river provided an unlimited supply of water for irrigation. The Smiths soon became well-known for their fresh produce, specializing in strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelons. Not only did people come to the stone house to buy produce, but they also continued to come for socialization. The old tradition continued, with young people gathering at the stone house for dancing, swimming, ballgames, and tennis.
It was remarkable how Mrs. Smith managed, in the days of the depression, to cook for as many as 100 people at a time. She would rise early, bake buns, roast poultry, and prepare a large picnic lunch for the young people to enjoy and share with her family. Picnics were held usually in the beautiful maple grove just behind the house. After a hearty meal, the socializing moved into the house for a family dance. Mrs. Smith was a wonderful musician, teaching many young persons to play piano. Young Vern Smith played the violin.
Another tradition that continued on at the house was the operation of the post office and store. Mrs. Smith took over the job of post-mistress in 1928, and continued until the post office was closed in 1949. The Smiths continued to stock such staples as flour, sugar, spices, tobacco, and candy in their small store.
The Smith family, like the Goodwins, did endure certain hardships. The oldest son, Charles, was employed with the Saskatchewan Power Corporation and worked for them until his untimely death in 1969. Vern and Margaret took their education by correspondence courses. Although they were located six miles from four different schools (Wheat Belt, Vendetta, North Landing, and South Landing), winter conditions made it impossible to attend any of them. Their high schooling was taken in Stewart Valley and Swift Current.
In 1949, Mr. and Mrs. Smith moved to Swift Current where they purchased Smiths’ Floral Shop. Vern carried on the market garden for a few years, and then went into partnership with his parents in the flower shop. Margaret married Art Noble, a farmer in the North Landing District. For a few years, the stone house was occupied by tenants until the PFRA began to buy land for the dam on the South Saskatchewan River. It was sold in 1959.
We would like to thank Darcy Cleasby, Conservation Officer, and Darcy Lockman, Park Supervisor, Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, for providing the information for this page.
Return to Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, in the Parks section of this website.