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Gone but never forgotten

Bounty schoolThe Bounty school

Every Saturday night in Bounty, folks braced themselves for rip-roaring action at the community hall. They came early, knowing a crowd of more than 200 people would jam the renowned hall for the weekend dance.

It was a weekly tradition to see the cloud of dust hanging over Main Street on Saturday evenings as scores of eager young adults drove into town to break loose. When the Bounty Bluebirds Band started playing, an echo of revelry flowed out onto the street, spreading throughout the town.

Outside the hall beside the front steps, a cook at the hot dog stand worked feverishly to meet the increasing demand of hungry dancers who came out for fresh air, to have a smoke, or to settle a score over a girl.

As the evening rolled along towards midnight, the traditional lunch was served. Outside, the hog dog stand still did a brisk business but the exodus of Saturday night revelers had begun. Before long, the cloud of dust that hung over Main Street for hours would settle. Another Saturday night dance at the Bounty Hall was over. The hall was cleaned up, prepared for another community event during the week. The following Saturday, the town prepared itself once again for another hell-raising evening of music, dance and wild times.

The community hall was the social focal point of Bounty, a tiny community 85 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon, and 25 kilometres northwest of Outlook. From 1930 onward, it was the central venue for every major event in the community, including summer fairs, movies, Christmas concerts and of course the Saturday evening dances.

The village never had a population of more than 200 souls but Bounty was always considered a land and place of promise since the first settlers arrived in 1904. When the town site was first surveyed in the fall of 1910, the early settlers were awed by the spectacular rows of swaying orange-blossomed tiger lilies blanketing the prairie fields. Botany was chosen as the new community's name but a mistake on the town site blueprints listed the moniker as Bounty, and the error was never amended.

Bounty prospered quickly and within two years boasted 19 businesses. It was considered the "boom years" for the village, especially with the arrival of regular train service in 1912. Along with the usual stores and services, Bounty's quick growth also witnessed the opening of two banks, three grain elevators, a three-story, 24-room hotel, and a newspaper called the Fertile Valley Echo. Locals pursued sports and recreational pursuits to accompany its dreams of prosperity. As early as 1911, Bounty had a professional baseball team that played in the Rosetown, Bounty and Outlook circuit while curling became the town's wintertime passion.

But Bounty folks especially loved their music, and the town became famous for its dance orchestras, which included the Bounty Bluebirds, and the Fertile Valley Band.