There were over 138,000 farms in Saskatchewan in 1941, and it's gone downhill from there - there were just over 44,000 farms in 2006. I don't have comparable stats on the population of rural towns, but of course it has largely decreased in lockstep as well. I've observed a lot of fatalism, and some arguments that increasing urbanization is the best route for Saskatchewan, but I have recently gotten to know a small town of about 120 people that's putting up a big struggle to stay viable.
Hazlet has a lot going on. They have a new wind turbine to power their recently renovated rink, an international students program at the high school, an affordable housing initiative to attract residents, and a project underway to bring back the old railway station for a tourism information centre. Their economic development officer (another sign that the town is serious) is a grant-getting machine. And the town thrives on its volunteers.
Now, this is oil and gas country; the revenues from the patch are keeping a lot of farmers on their farms and the local oilfield companies support the town's initiatives through donations in cash and in kind. The financial stability this offers for the time being has definitely contributed to the town's viability.
Still, it's fairly unique to find a can-do attitude in this era of rural depopulation. The school is an example: many rural schools have closed in the past few decades in Saskatchewan, despite heartfelt protests from parents and communities. Hazlet did more than protest; they created the international students program as a way to bring money into the school and keep it viable.
So, my question is - given the optimism and hard work of the community, why, when topics turn to farming, is the fatalism still evident there?