Swift Current is a small city in Southwest Saskatchewan. It is situated along the Trans Canada Highway west from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and east from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Swift Current grew 0.8% between 2001 and 2006 ending up at 14,946 residents.
The settlement of Swift Current was begun in 1881 when the CPR surveyed a railway line as far as Swift Current Creek. In 1882, initial grading and track preparation commenced, with the first settlers arriving in the spring of 1883. During the early part of its settlement, the economy was based almost exclusively on serving the new railway buildings and employees. There was also a significant ranching operation known as the "76" ranches. It included 10 ranches raising sheep and cattle and stretched from Swift Current to Calgary. The ranch located at Swift Current dealt with sheep. At one point there were upwards of 20,000 sheep grazing on the present day Kinetic Grounds. The head shepherd was John Oman, originally from Scotland. He donated land to build Oman School in 1913. Other early industries included gathering buffalo or bison bones for use in fertilizer manufacturing, the making of bone china and sugar refining. Métis residents also ran a successful Red River ox cart "freighting" business to Battleford until the late 1880s. During the Riel Rebellion of 1885, Swift Current became a major military base and troop mustering area due to its proximity to Battleford but this was only for a short time. On February 4 1904, the hamlet became a village and then a town on March 15 1907 when a census indicated a population of 550. Swift Current became incorporated as a city on January 15 1914 with Travis Blaine Frederick being the mayor at the time.
In 1946, a pilot project for province-wide health care began in Swift Current. The project received international attention and history was made when it became the first government funded medical plan in North America. Medicare was implemented across the province in 1962, and in time it would be introduced across the country.
The Swift Current Airport was taken over by the City of Swift Current from Transport Canada in 1996. Airport services were then contracted out. There have been recent (2005 - 2006) plans to expand and revitalize the airport alongside the rural municipalities surrounding Swift Current.
Swift Current is sometimes known as "Speedy Creek". Considered to be slightly pejorative, this term is very seldom used by current or former residents. In more common usage by these groups are the terms "Swift", "Swifty" and unfortunately, more often than not given the diaspora of more ambitious Saskatchewan youth, "a good place to be from".
Swift Current's slogan is "Where Life Makes Sense."
In 2008, Swift Current is experiencing growth. Housing prices have risen and new building continues.
A little-known fact is that Swift Current is the birthplace of Medicare. Health Region No. 1 was established during the 1940s by the provincial government in a downtown clinic (which has since been demolished) as an experiment in government-run health care. People came from all over the world to observe the experiment, which was later used as a model for the rest of Canada and in other countries.
Swift Current is also home to Saskatchewan's oldest operating theatre: the Lyric, built in 1912 at a cost of $50,000 is the "crown jewel" of Swift Current's historical downtown buildings, with instantly recognizable advertisements painted on the north and south sides of the building dating back to the early 1920s. The building has served many functions over the years: at first it housed glamourous vaudeville performances by traveling companies, was later converted into a movie theatre and, in the mid 1980s, a bar and nightclub. A volunteer non-profit group (Southwest Cultural Development Group) purchased the facility in 2005 and is raising money for its preservation while staging cultural events, such as a mock chautauqua in July 2008 and open mic nights throughout the year, and administering rentals of the building. The current musician in residence is Dave Lang.
Swift Current's tallest commercial building is the EI Wood Building in downtown.
The longest running business in Swift Current is the Imperial Hotel, also known as The Big "I". It was built in 1903 and was used as evidence that Swift Current should be granted village status. The owner, R.H. Corbett of Medicine Hat, needed the designation to obtain a liquor license.
In late 2008, Living Sky Casino will be opening in Swift Current. There is currently a great many debates surrounding the light pollution due to the sky-pointing spotlights on its roof. To read more visit the Swift Current Casino Chronology
The Swift Current Allied Arts Council organizes an annual presentation of "Stars for Saskatchewan" featuring many well-known artists. Past performers have included: Canadian Brass, Jeff Healey, Regina Symphony Orchestra, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Irish Tenors, Jesse Cook, The Nylons and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The Allied Arts Council also holds Literary Cafes which are readings by prominent Canadian authors.
There are three middle schools (6-8) in Swift Current: O.M. Irwin School, Fairview School and St. Joseph's. The first two offer the regular public school system, but Fairview also offers the French Immersion program. St. Joseph's offers the Catholic school program.
There are two high schools (9-12) in Swift Current: Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) and Maverick High School. SCCHS offers the regular public system, the French Immersion program and has classes to satisfy the Catholic school system. It does not run the Catholic school system. Maverick High School is an alternative high school suitable for student with different needs then offered at SCCHS.