Susan Anholt is industrious, organized and one of Kenaston's most community-minded volunteers, and it is she who took on the project of ensuring the restoration of Kenaston's unique CNR water tower. As one of the hardest working and most single-minded members of the Kenaston and District Chamber of Commerce, Susan kept the Watertower project alive, delving into all aspects of the restoration single handedly. Her efforts included researching, applying for and obtaining appropriate funding, sourcing all building materials and arranging for their transport to the site, finding and hiring the work crews, overseeing work in progress and mounting the scaffolding personally to be involved in the work being done. She even took crew members to lunch, and then when the project was proudly accomplished and painted in proper CNR colors, she saw to it that a commemorative plaque was installed so visitors could read and understand the tower's historical significance. Susan deserves recognition for this restoration project as well as her many past and ongoing community efforts.
The restored tower is now a heritage site and tourist attraction. Kenaston's
Watertower is an integral and significant site on Highway 11, the Louis Riel Trail tourism corridor. It commemorates pioneers, the grain trade, railways and the men who kept the system moving. There are few heritage buildings in our rural area to acknowledge our past and educate future generations about settlement of the Plains, the steam engine era, and the transportation of our agricultural products. Pictures of the before and after can be viewed at www.kenaston.ca.
The History of Kenaston’s Watertower: The first water tower was built in the spring area just south of what was then Bonnington, Assiniboia, NWT. The railway reached the community in 1889 and given that the trains were steam engines, we can assume that the water source was found immediately. Railway sources indicate that Bonnington had an abundant water supply. Some early photographs of the community would have been taken from the first tower.
In 1910, the new (and existing) water tower, with a 40,000 gallon capacity, was built in proximity to the train station, just across from the first hotel. This tower was constructed with tapered sides; a technology that would vanish during this era as the banding necessary for a tapered building became unavailable. Water towers were initially railway property and thus were painted and maintained in the “tuscan red with cream trim” colours that were prevalent on all railway property. The records of the Saskatchewan Railway Museum in Saskatoon tell us that the tower underwent a refit in 1928.
In 2009, when its exterior restoration was completed, the Kenaston Watertower was the oldest of the five remaining in Saskatchewan, of which only three are on their original sites. To put this in context, there were 400 originally constructed in the province. This is the only remaining “tapered” tower, thus is of significance architecturally as well as historically.