It’s likely if you look up “ghost towns in Saskatchewan” or “abandoned elevators in Saskatchewan” you will see a photo of the elevator in Bents, Saskatchewan, or maybe even its general store on the main street. This abandoned town in Saskatchewan is one of the true ghost towns in the province. Its lonely elevatory and empty main street make for some very photogenic views. Today it sits on private property and access can be granted through the owner.
Bents was established in 1930 along the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) line. In Saskatchewan, most towns were created by the railway – it’s rare but not impossible to find towns that were not along the railway. So in 1929 when the railway came through the area it established the town of Bents. The town grew to have several homes, two grain elevators, a dance hall, a general store, a post office, and a small train station. It was all along a single street, on the same side. By the 1960’s the rail line was abandoned and the town declined. The last business to go was the general store, which has a family living upstairs.
The remaining Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator was built in 1928 and was closed in 1977. The other elevator was a UGG (United Grain Growers), also built in 1928 but was sold to the Saskatchewan Wheat pool in the 1960s and torn down in the 1970s.
I (Alicia) will never forget my first visit to Bents back in 2008. I had seen photos online and had been able to find its location on an old map. At this time there was no signage or trespassing law. I parked halfway down the main driveway to explore the sit on foot. The general store/post office, a couple of houses, a dance hall, elevators, and outbuildings were all that remained. I started with the houses, moving to the empty dance hall and finally the general store. The general store still had items on the shelves, the post office shelves were still brightly painted and the upstairs living quarters still had clothes in the closet and items in the kitchen. It was unique to find a building in this state, with so many items remaining. On my way out, we were greeted by a man, the landowner. He was happy to see me documenting the site and started telling me about the history of the town and his family roots here. It was very interesting. Unfortunately, as the owner of a ghost town and the popularity of the internet, he told us about how items were getting stolen from the town. The scale, which apparently was in amazing shape was recently removed and taken from the elevator. This was only going to get worse for the town.
Fast forward to a few years later, we returned together. Bents was still intact but clearly vandalized. The swing-set that was outside was moved across the town, the general store had fewer items and the houses had more broken glass. It doesn’t take long for these places to go downhill once there is exposure online. In regards to true ghost towns though, Bent’s may take the cake for being one of the best in the province. Being on private property may be helping it survive.
2021 update: the elevator was damaged in a storm and is now in rough shape. The owner has asked people to shoot the site from a distance as the site is no longer safe to view.