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Leader, Saskatchewan

Town of Leader
Leader welcome sign
Leader welcome sign
Leader is located in Happyland No. 231
Leader is located in Saskatchewan
Coordinates: 50°53′24″N 109°32′25″W / 50.89000°N 109.54028°W / 50.89000; -109.54028
Rural municipalityHappyland No. 231
Incorporated (village)1913 (as Prussia)
Incorporated (town)1917 (as Leader)
 • MayorAaron Wenzel (2022)
 • Town AdministratorErin Romanuik
 • MLADoug Steele
 • MPJeremy Patzer
 • Total1.70 km2 (0.66 sq mi)
 • Total863
 • Density519.2/km2 (1,345/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−06:00 (CST)
Postal code
S0N 1H0
Area code306
WaterwaysSouth Saskatchewan River

Leader is a town in southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada, located approximately 350 km (220 mi) directly east of Calgary, Alberta and is near the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta. It has a population of 863 as of 2016.[1]


William Theodore Smith (1845–1918), builder of the Smith Barn

Before settlement, the Leader area was a hunting ground of prehistoric humans. A Midland Folsom point was discovered that the University of Saskatchewan dated back 8,000 to 9,000 years before present.[2]

Leader lies in the traditional territory of the Nekaneet First Nation, who were signatories to Treaty 4.[3]

Homesteaders began arriving in large numbers in 1907; most were German immigrants from the country of Prussia or southern Russia.[4] A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment opened in 1909, and ensured all settlers had adequate supplies to last the winter. By 1911, the Canadian Pacific Railway purchased a quarter section of land as the prospective site for a settlement.[2] The railway arrived in 1913 and the village of Prussia was incorporated in September of that year. Hans Quittenbaum, owner of the general store, was named the first Reeve (or Mayor) of Prussia.

Hans Quittenbaum, storekeeper, was elected the first Reeve (i.e., Mayor) of Prussia, Saskatchewan, in 1913

[5] By 1917, anti-German sentiment surrounding the events of World War I prompted the community to change its name, as well as replacing its German street names with numbers. The new name was chosen after a contest won by two local girls, Bertha Keller and Muriel Legault. They were inspired by the arrival of the Regina Morning Leader newspaper on the passenger train. The village name was officially changed to Leader on September 27, 1917;[2] soon after, it incorporated as a town on November 1.[5]

W.T. Smith, a local rancher, had the distinction of building North America's largest barn. The Smith Barn was completed in 1914, having taken 100 men five months to complete its construction; the building measured 400 ft × 128 ft × 60 ft (122 m × 39 m × 18 m). Smith died in 1918, and his massive barn was dismantled down to the concrete foundation in 1921. The concrete foundation remains there to this day.[6]

Following World War II the town's population grew, reaching a peak of 1236 in 1966.[5] Since then the town's population has decreased, following Saskatchewan's overall trend of rural flight.[7]

In 1995, American aviator Steve Fossett landed near Leader after taking off from South Korea, becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.[8]

In November 2006, the inhabitants of Leader posed nude for a calendar in act of protest against the deteriorating condition of Highway 32, the main link to the city of Swift Current;[9] it attracted the attention of media outlets in Canada and the United States. In the 2008-2009 provincial budget, the Ministry of Highways committed to rebuild Highway 32 between the villages of Shackleton and Prelate.[10] The project was completed in November 2010 at a cost of $44.4 million.[11]

High winds and dry conditions sparked a wildfire on October 17, 2017 that forced the town's population to evacuate to the town of Kindersley. The fire was contained and residents returned the next day. No one was injured and no structures were damaged, however the local waste station & local farmers had experienced fire damage.[12]


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Leader had a population of 881 living in 372 of its 426 total private dwellings, a change of 2.1% from its 2016 population of 863. With a land area of 1.68 km2 (0.65 sq mi), it had a population density of 524.4/km2 (1,358.2/sq mi) in 2021.[13]

Canada census – Leader community profile
Population881 (+2.1% from 2016)863 (+5.1% from 2011)821 (-6.8% from 2006)
Land area1.68 km2 (0.65 sq mi)1.71 km2 (0.66 sq mi)1.71 km2 (0.66 sq mi)
Population density525.1/km2 (1,360/sq mi)505.8/km2 (1,310/sq mi)481.2/km2 (1,246/sq mi)
Median age41.2 (M: 42.8, F: 39.2)44.0 (M: 43.2, F: 46.2)49.2 (M: 48.2, F: 50.1)
Private dwellings426 (total)  372 (occupied)390 (total)  425 (total) 
Median household income$84,000
References: 2021[14] 2016[15] 2011[16] earlier[17][18]

Geography and climate

Leader is located in Saskatchewan's mixed grassland ecoregion.[19] The southern landscape is dominated by flat plains, with rolling hills by the South Saskatchewan River located 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Leader. The Great Sand Hills, a 1,900 km2 (730 sq mi) region of arid plains and sand dunes, lies just southeast of Leader. The town is located at the junction of highways 21 and 32, and is approximately 30 km (19 mi) east of the border with Alberta.

Like much of southwestern Saskatchewan, Leader experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk). Winters are long, cold and dry, while summers are short but very warm. Average precipitation is 274 mm (10.8 in) of rain per year and 85 cm (33 in) of snow per annum. Mean temperatures in the area range from a January low of −19 °C (−2 °F) to a summer high in July of 26 °C (79 °F).[2]

The highest temperature ever recorded in Leader was 41.1 °C (106 °F), which occurred on seven occasions; June 16, 1933, July 26, 1933, July 27, 1936, June 29, 1937, July 4, 1937, June 23, 1941, and August 5, 1961. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −47.8 °C (−54 °F) on February 16, 1936.

Climate data for Leader, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1924–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −6.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −11.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −17.0
Record low °C (°F) −46.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 10.7
Average rainfall mm (inches) 0.0
Average snowfall cm (inches) 10.6
Source: Environment Canada,[20] Extremes 1924–1969,[21] Extremes 1996–present[22][23]


Including three rural municipalities, Leader, is the centre of a retail trading area. The economic base of the community centres around the grain and cattle industries. The major industries in Leader and surrounding area are agricultural services and manufacturing. Leader also has tourism trade from attractions such as the Leader Bird Watching Trail, Smith Barn site, and the Great Sand Hills.[2]


Great Sand Hills
Burrowing Owls
Millennium Gardens

Leader is the largest community in close proximity to the Great Sand Hills, a vast area of grassland and sand dunes in southern Saskatchewan. The Great Sand Hills are home to an abundance of wildlife, including sharp-tailed grouse, pronghorn, white pelican, merlin, peregrine falcon, coyote, white-tailed deer, golden eagle, badger, weasel, burrowing owl, mourning dove, porcupine, sandhill crane and fox. It is the only known Saskatchewan habitat of the rare Ord's kangaroo rat.[24] Several large sculptures of local wildlife are found at various locations around the town of Leader.[25]

The Great Sand Hills Museum is in the nearby village of Sceptre. The museum features historical displays depicting pioneer life such as a boarding house, hospital, livery stable, school, church, and barn as well as vintage farm machinery.[2]

The South Saskatchewan River valley, just north of Leader, is the largest tract of riparian woodlands between the Cypress Hills and the northern forests. The Leader Bird Watching Trail is suited for viewing many native bird species, including pileated woodpecker, golden eagle, lark sparrow, yellow-breasted chat, red-headed woodpecker, yellow-green swallow, great blue heron, prairie falcon, ferruginous hawk, long-billed curlew, short-eared owl, loggerhead shrike, and burrowing owl.[6] It is also home to the prairie rattlesnake and one of few known localities of rattlesnakes in Saskatchewan.[26] Checkboard Hill, 6.4 km west of Leader on Highway 741, has a wide view of the river and surrounding landscape.[27]

The Smith Barn Site is a provincial heritage site, located approximately ten kilometres northwest of Leader on private property.[28] Its concrete foundation is the only part of the building that remains. A scale model of the barn is located at the Leader tourist information booth.

The Hutterites Colony in Estuary was established in 1958. The colony members have preserved the traditional Hutterite production methods, culture, language, and religion. Guided tours of the colony are available to visitors.

Parks and recreation

  • River Ridge Golf Course – 18 hole golf course with club house and pro shop
  • Leader Swimming Pool – seasonal outdoor heated pool, built in the 1960s and upgraded in the 1990s. Replaced in 2011.
  • Leader Millennium Gardens – designed by a student of the University of Guelph School of Landscape Architecture, and built in 2000 in recognition of Leader's history and cultural heritage
  • Leader Lions Park – green space with playground structure
  • Leader Ball Park – baseball facility with four ball diamonds, grandstands, a concession, beer gardens, and serviced camp sites for visiting teams
  • Leader Arena – indoor artificial ice surface for hockey and ice skating
  • Leader Community Hall – community hall built in 1983; hosts social events such as weddings and dances
  • Leader Friendship Centre – social gathering place for senior citizens[6][29]


Local sports teams include the Leader Expos (baseball) and the Leader Flyers (hockey). Other sports organizations include the Leader Minor Ball Club, Leader Minor Hockey Club and the Leader Skating Club.


Leader's local government consists of a town council, composed of an elected mayor and six councillors. The current mayor is Craig Tondevold.[30]

In provincial politics, Leader is in the constituency of Cypress Hills. It is currently represented by Doug Steele of the Saskatchewan Party.

Federally, Leader is in the constituency of Cypress Hills—Grasslands, currently represented by Jeremy Patzer of the Conservative Party of Canada.



Leader is located at the junction of highways 21 and 32. The former Canadian Pacific Railway line also runs through the town; it is currently operated by the Great Sandhills Railway[31] Leader has an airport with an asphalt runway.


Electricity is provided by SaskPower and natural gas is provided by SaskEnergy. The town maintains its own water supply system, including a pump house and filtration plant. Telephone and internet service is provided by SaskTel.

Health care

  • Leader and District Integrated Health Care Facility
  • Leader Home Care Office
  • Leader Pharmacy
  • Dirk Family Pharmacy

Public safety

  • Cypress Health Region emergency medical services
  • Leader & District Fire Department
  • RCMP Leader Detachment


  • Leader Composite School – teaches students from kindergarten through grade 12[32]
  • Great Plains College – offers courses by satellite
  • St. Angela's Academy (closed) – independent Catholic residential school for girls in the neighbouring community of Prelate. Closed on June 30, 2007 after 88 years of operation.[33]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Leader, Town [Census subdivision], Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan [Province]". Statistics Canada. August 2, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Community Profiles – Leader" (PDF). Southwest Regional Economic Development Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Barry, Bill (2001). Ukrainian People Places. Regina, Saskatchewan: People Places Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-894022-65-3.
  5. ^ a b c McLennan, David (2006). "Leader". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c "Places to Go". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  7. ^ Anderson, Alan (2006). "Population Trends". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  8. ^ "Aviation Adventurer Steve Fossett Missing". CBS News. September 4, 2007. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  9. ^ Cowan, Pamela (November 29, 2006). "Nude calendar exposes road neglect". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  10. ^ Aasa, Marshall (2008). "Highway 32's upgrades in budget". Prairie Post. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  11. ^ "Nude calendar stunt helps pave Sask. highway". CBC News. November 6, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  12. ^ Giles, David (October 18, 2017). "Wildfire threat contained in western Saskatchewan". Global News. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  13. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions (municipalities), Saskatchewan". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  14. ^ "2021 Community Profiles". 2021 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 4, 2022. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  15. ^ "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 12, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  16. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 21, 2019. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  17. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 20, 2019.
  18. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 18, 2021.
  19. ^ Secoy, Diane; Canadian Plains Research Center Mapping Division (2006). Ecozones and Ecoregions (PDF) (Map). Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  20. ^ "Leader 2". Canadian Climate Normals. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  21. ^ "Leader". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "Leader Airport". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  23. ^ "Daily Data Report for September 2022". Canadian Climate Data. Environment and Climate Change Canada. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  24. ^ Yanko, Dave. "Sand, Wind and Time". Virtual Saskatchewan. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  25. ^ "Leader Wildlife Sculptures". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on April 11, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  26. ^ "Prairie Rattlesnake". Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  27. ^ "Places to Go". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  28. ^ "Heritage Property Details – Smith Barn Site" (PDF). Saskatchewan Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  29. ^ "Things to Do". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  30. ^ "Leader Town Council & Staff". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  31. ^ "Great Sandhills Railway Ltd. to acquire Empress Shortline". Great Sandhills Terminal Ltd. July 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  32. ^ "Leader and Area Schools". Town of Leader. Archived from the original on June 27, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  33. ^ Yaworski, Kiply Lukan. "Ursulines will close St. Angela's Academy in Prelate in June 2007" (PDF). Retrieved April 4, 2008.
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Leader, Saskatchewan
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