Friday, April 3, 2009

Kayville, Saskatchewan Report

Kayville, Saskatchewan
Have you ever heard of the town of Kayville, Saskatchewan? It has a unique history that reflects the Romanian culture and its beginnings in Canada. Over time, many changes have taken place in Kayville but its importance to Saskatchewan history is significant. Many settlers started new lives here as they moved to Canada. The settlers started the town and built general stores, buildings, and the churches. But what is Kayville like today?

Research Questions;

What is the history of Kayville?
When did the Romanian settlers arrive in Kayville?
What types of businesses were in Kayville back in the 1900’s?
What is the history of St. Peter and Paul Church?
What is Kayville like today?

Kayville Saskatchewan was founded in 1905 by the early Romanian settlers. After 1905 the settlers started to build in Kayville around Main Street and homesteads outside the town. The very first homesteads were built in 1906 and all were cattle ranchers or farmers. By 1912-1913 a post office and school were established and in 1924 the Canadian Pacific Railway formally started Kayville. As time had passed the little town of Kayville became a busy and thriving agricultural town in rural Saskatchewan by 1925! Kayville was an organized hamlet by 1951, and in 1970 the town’s population was over 100 people. After quite a time Kayville population dropped dramatically. In 1990 Kayville School shut down and closed for good. Everyone started to abandoned Kayville and in 1998 hardly anyone was still in the town. By 2004 all businesses shut down in Kayville.

In 1905 Romanian settlers arrived in Kayville, in large numbers. They came to Saskatchewan because the government advertised land for homesteads; they got 1 quarter of land and had to pay that potion back in a certain period of time. Julius Martin and Billie McKay were the first two non-native people operating in Kayville area in 1905, as ranchers. The name Kayville comes from Billie McKay, Billie originally named the town; He toke his last name Mc- Kay and added Ville which equals Kayville! They came to conclusion of the name Kayville.
The Romanians started to form the foundation of Kayville, and expand the town and heritage. They show and tell they heritage by their food, food is huge in the Romanian culture. And some of the foods are; Perogies, Racituri (Jellied Pork Hocks), Cabbage Rolls, Mamaliga, and Borsch. They show their culture by Romanian dancing it is a traditional folk dance, and can be traced back from the nineteenth century. The Romanians also tell by their language, their language is a Romance language that 24-28 Romanians speak. Romanians are very unique through their culture and heritage that can trace back thousands of years ago. As the Romanians came to Kayville the town, buildings, and churches in Kayville bloomed and buildings popped up.

In the 1900’s Kayville had over 30 busy businesses throughout all the years and were proud of the town and what they had done and continued to expand. Some of the main businesses were; the post office, general store, local gas station, co-op, hotel and bar, barber shop, and of course the popular swimming pool complex which was known in Kayville and has been around since 1984. Main Street was always busy with people and were always going to the coffee shop which was built in 1992, the town was friendly and welcoming. Though the town was busy and businesses were all around the town, in 2004 businesses shut down and were closed for good. In January of 2009 the bar and hotel were still in use and open, shortly after they shut down and NO businesses are open in Kayville to this day.

St. Peter and Paul Church is a huge part of Kayville and was built in 1908 by the Romanian settlers. The church has been around for over 100 years and is still standing tall today. Once the Romanian settlers arrived they brought with them contents for the church, such as alter cloths, and divine items to place in the church. St. Peter and Paul Church still holds daily Sunday masses according to Orthodox faith. This church has held numerous important events for the town and community such as their 100th Anniversary which was a major event. Did you know that every Orthodox Church is built in the shape of a boat, cross, or circle? The boat sustains light and symbolizes Noah’s Ark. The cross symbolizes the cross; In the name of the Father the son and the Holy Ghost. And lastly the circle symbolizes eternal life and never ending love for god. St. Peter and Paul church is shaped in the way of a boat like Noah’s Ark. It forms like an arch and a basic style, in the earlier days the church represented early Roman meeting place. Also in the church is a huge chandelier which symbolizes light from heaven to shine on the people.

Kayville was a busy little town back in the 1900’s. The community was very friendly and always welcoming to new people and still is. But now the town is much different. The population is 7 people; 6 adults and 1 child. Most of the people are either farmers or cattle producers. NO businesses are left in Kayville today; all are vacant and abandoned.
Kayville is known to be one of many ghost towns in Canada because all buildings, schools and most of the homesteads are vacant and no lives there anymore. Like other rural towns in Saskatchewan, Kayville has declined dramatically. The farm economy went down and no money to be made, population dropped, schools closed, grain elevator shut down, and railway was taken away. This town is a historic place because of the buildings, churches, and schools it’s been around for over 100 years and had many important events take place. Kayville is a great place to learn about and explore Saskatchewan’s past and the Romanian culture, such as St. Peter and Paul and Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church as well.

In conclusion, the Kayville School and post office were established in 1924. Kayville was established by Canadian Pacific Railway and they built the railway all through the town. The Romanian settlers came to Kayville in 1905 because the government was offering them land and they accepted and came to Saskatchewan. Many businesses were in Kayville and now all are shut down and closed for good, Kayville is mostly vacant and abandoned. St. Peter and Paul Church was built in 1908 by the settlers and has been around for over 100 years and is still standing tall. The church still holds daily Sunday masses. Today Kayville has declined because of farm economy and population has dropped to 7 people.

Author’s Note
Kayville, Saskatchewan was a very fascinating town in rural Saskatchewan and I really enjoyed learning about this town and my culture. My background is Romanian so it was exciting to learn and explore my heritage and now I have more knowledge about the Romanian settlers. Kayville has a long history behind the town and I definitely learned when it was founded, by whom, and when. There were also many businesses in Kayville and the town was always busy with customers. In 2004 all the businesses were closed and shut down the town was vacant and abandoned. St. Peter and Paul Church was a huge part of Kayville and practices astonishing Romanian Orthodox faith. Kayville is still a town in rural Saskatchewan and is also known to be a ghost town in Canada. Memories from the past still linger in the little town of Kayville. Kayville has been made a huge impact on Saskatchewan because of the countries heritage and culture of Romania. Youth are interested in Romanian culture, background heritage, and language.


Preston said...

hi there my name is preston majeran my family is from kayville the hotel and bar was built by my grandfather.there were many good things in kayvillie i go there as often as i can thats where my family became a family.there were many things you missed in the report like the celebrations held there on kayvilles 100 birthday where my whole family attended

English for the World! said...

Hi Rheann!
I was pleased to come across your Kayville report - well done. Long ago, my grandparents operated the cafe. As a young man, my father helped-out with the cafe too. My childhood memories center around the church - my grandparents are buried in the cemetery there.

Thanks for noting this piece of Saskatchewan history.

Robert Litowski

kiwi chick said...

Hello Rheann,

Thank you for your Kayville post. I'm hoping you or someone else with Kayville roots can help me.

I'm looking for Jack Rotar, originally from Kayville, on behalf of my dad, Bud Malone. Jack spent years in California and in Mexico, I believe, and should be in his 70's

Jack and my dad were good friends in California in the 50's and 60's, and dad would very much like to find out where Jack is. When they were last in touch in the 90's, dad was told Jack was moving home to Canada.We're hoping you know where he is so dad can reconnect and say hello. I can be reached on

Many thanks,
Michelle Malone

kiwi chick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kayville girl said...

For Michelle.....Unfortunately, Jack Rotar passed away several years ago. Sorry.

Anonymous said...


Yes, i too was sad to hear about Jackie passing away. My mother helped take care of him after he moved back from California to Kayville. He actually was in Avonle (spelling?), where the cancer took him away from us. My father was born in Kayville, Anthony Ivanoff. I ended up purchasing the house he grew up in, right "downtown", and still own it to this day. And from time to time get the chance to visit.

Lori said...
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Lori said...

my girl friend found your post... I found it very interesting.. my name is Trevor Ritco and my family opened the Ritco store!!

D Thompson said...

hi, I also have family history from the early settlers. My name is Darrell Thompson, grandson of Alex & Catrina Trofin. Estafi Ritco is my great grandfather.
There was a Trofin family reunion in the summer of 2010 in Regina. Unforunitly I was not able to attend but hoping will have another soon...

Kaitlyn Tangaro said...

9 peple live in kayville now... i am one of them. my neighbours name is Reenie and she now runs the post office, the mills is still closed but a bar and pizzaria is now open. I live in the school with my mom, her boyfriend, and their room mate.

Kaitlyn Tangaro said...
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Anonymous said...

Great report! My ancestors were Kayville pioneers. My dad was born there, too.

Kayville is part of my home. xo


Thomas Criton said...

I grew up in Kayville in the 1940's. My name is Tommy Criton, my brother Paul and I lived across from the school. We knew Jack Rotar well and played softball in the street. Would love to hear from anybody from that time period. I am now living in Southern California. 760-724-1137 is an email I get be reached.

Mursu said...

My name is Maria Ursu. Born and raised in Vancouver. I am married to Lee Ursu. My husbands father George use to own the hotel in Kayville for awhile.. Lee' s parents are both buried in Kayville. We love coming to visit Kayville even though it brings back many fond memories for Lee.
Such a vibrant town it was I hear Lee say all the time.
Kayville will always hold a special place in our heart.
I read the comments to lee posted on here and he remembered a few names.
Take care

Jen Clark said...

My aunt and uncle still live in kayville. Their names are Sheryl and Stan Ursu. I remember going to their farm during the summers when I was a little girl. Going to the post office and the grocery store with my aunt. And swimming at the pool. To this day, I will drive around town when I'm visiting and remember how much fun I used to have when I was young. Kayville will always be like my second home.

Jacquie Ashley said...

Hello, Apparently there was a book written about families settling in Kayville from Romainia. Does anyone know who wrote it or even the name? I am tracking my family tree and this book has some breadcrumbs for me. Thanks.

Rsx Types said...

My grandmother just passed away .. Francis galvin daughter of sam siminuk and parachiva. 5 kids dora mary francis ann and tolder. ann passed away in the forties tolder passed away and so is dora mary is the remaining my great great like to talk to some of you if you knew my family.
Kyle miller

Jarrod Oglan said...

Do you happen to have any more information on the settlers of the area? My great grandfather was Dimitru (Dan) Oglan, and my grandfather Victor was born on the farm Dan and Sofia (nee Avram) had there. I'm trying to find as much information about where the were before/after this time as I can. If you could email me so we could talk that would be fantastic.



Alexis Bauer said...

I know or my grandparents and dad have always brought up the men's
Jack rotar.
My grandparents and madden name is
Ivanoff , Anthony &Mary are my grandparents .

Alexis Bauer said...

Is this uncle Chris ?
Chris Ivanoff ?

Alexis Bauer said...

I would love to also get the information.

Alexis Bauer said...

Jack rotar , I believe he used to be friends with my family. We also ended up in Southern California , Orange County.
My family is the
Ivanoff's , my dad is Paul .
My grandparents Mary and Anthony(Tony) had four sons. Paul,Peter,Tim & chris.

Erin Rose said...
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Erin Rose said...

Great information on the village. My family settled around Kayville in the 20's and 30's. They were Siminiuks. My Nana Marg was the last of her family to be born in Kayville. I would like to chat with other Siminiuks that may have know My Great-Grandfather Peter Siminiuk and his with Annie (possible any of their children also). Please email me at if you knew my family or the Siminiuks in the Kayville area.
Erin Rose

Erin Rose said...

Hi Kyle,
I have actually been looking into your Great grandfathers family. My great grandfather, Peter Siminiuk lived in Kayville and according to some documents they might be brothers. I would love to chat. Please contact me at

Erin Rose