SASKATOON -- Just under half of Saskatchewan’s population (443,039) is rural, according to the 2016 census.

From as far North as Stony Rapids, under 100 kilometres from the border to Nunavut Territories, all the way down to Carnduff, less than 50 km to the US border, people in Saskatchewan seem to be handling the COVID-19 pandemic the same way.

“We’re no different than anyone else,” said Lillian Laprise, town administrator in Stony Rapids, population 262.

According to Laprise, people there are self-isolating, and measures to limit the number of people in stores are being taken.

People in town are used to being inside at this time of year.

“It’s -40, we won’t see spring until May,” she said.

Big River

In Big River, population 700, mayor Rob Buckingham and his wife Debbie are self-isolating after returning home from Arizona.

“We have a place in Mesa, Arizona,” he said. “We heard the urgency of what was going on around the world, and we wanted to get home, so we loaded up our things and packed a big lunch and headed for Canada.”

Big River is home to a lumber mill, which Buckingham said has temporarily shut down.

“I think everybody around here, it’s really hitting home with them,” he said. “Lots of livelihoods are depending on the mill operation.”


People are sticking close to home further south in Kenaston as well

“In our area anyway, between Davidson, Hanley, Kenaston, Strongfield, Outlook, I think everybody’s taking it very seriously,” Kenaston mayor Mike Menzies said.

The village of approximately 300 sits roughly 45 minutes south of Saskatoon, on one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the province, Highway 11.

“Our local Co-op has ensured that they’ve remained open, they’ve shortened the hours, they’ve set up special hours for seniors to go in, they’ve put plexiglass on the tills, so you’ve got your protection and social distance being maintained when people are in line.”


In Carnduff, population 1,099, playgrounds, hockey rinks, and curling rinks have all been shut down.

“We had people coming back from down south that are now self-isolating and taking precautions,” Agnes Duncombe, who is with the Town of Carnduff, said in an interview.

Stores and restaurants are also limiting hours, and some are doing curbside pickup.

“People really need to take this seriously,” Buckingham said. “It is something that isn’t going to be over this week or next week, it’s going to be a for long thing.”