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'Meet Me in Mortlach': village residents excited for upcoming prairie draw project

As the Village of Mortlach prepares to host the first launch of the “Meet Me in Mortlach” initiative this summer, residents in the nearby small community are excited to see what positive new changes are in store

As the Village of Mortlach prepares to host the first launch of the “Meet Me in Mortlach” initiative this summer, residents in the nearby small community are excited to see how far the idea can go towards reviving the area.

Steve Apperley is the owner of the Military Memories Model Museum in Mortlach, and his small museum is located just up the street from his wife’s venue, the Boxcar Bakery.

“A lot of air force people come in here and go, ‘Oh yeah, I used to work on that,’ or ‘I remember that’,” he said, referring to his vast collection of military aircraft models.

Apperley and his wife moved to Mortlach around 25 years ago and he still remembers purchasing his first home there for only $13,000.

“It’s a nice place,” he said about the village. “It’s quiet, (and it’s) peaceful.”

This summer, Apperley plans to maintain his regular store hours that run from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays – Sundays and he’s looking forward to seeing a few new faces in the shop.

Boxcar Bakery first opened on Mother’s Day 2023 and is now situated in one of the town’s historical buildings.

“We’re struggling because it’s after Christmas and people are (without a lot of disposable income),” said Marg Apperley, the bakery’s owner.

One of the first plans she revealed is a one-year Mother’s Day anniversary event, where visitors can stop by the bakery and receive a free homemade cupcake while they visit Mortlach.

“I’m hoping if it brings people in, (that) it’s going to bring people into our (bakery as well) because we’ve struggled with that…,” she admitted.

The business scene in Mortlach seems to be cyclical, she observed. “There are times when we are really booming because there’s lots of things to come up here and see.

“I feel like we’ve really cycled in this town (at the present moment),” Marg said.

“The hope is that we’re all just here to help promote each other and (put) the town on the map again.”

The upcoming event will be similar to a permanent version of the Berry Festival. “Everybody’s involved – or we hope that most people are involved – to get things happening,” she said.

The bakery is open five days a week and is closed Mondays and Thursdays to accommodate the owner’s ongoing studies.

Joanne Pratt is the owner of DJ’s General store, located just around the corner from the bakery.

“I’m the owner, I’m the operator; I’m the brains, (and) I’m the faults – I’m the everything,” she said with a good-natured laugh.

The village’s general store carries a wide range of essential products to serve the community. “I carry a little bit of everything, and a whole heck of a lot of nothing,” Pratt announced.

When asked why someone would want to visit Mortlach, Pratt didn’t hesitate to respond.

“Well, there’s two good restaurants (and) we have a bakery. The people are amazing. I’ve been here three years, (and) I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Pratt is excited about the possibility of seeing more visitors this summer. For her, this means she can hire an additional local assistant and the opportunity will allow her to expand the shop’s range of products.

Bakke Buildings is a Mortlach-based company that sells and constructs building packages. Some of the more popular projects include pole sheds, riding arenas, and farm shops.

“Anything that comes to the community is a benefit, right?” owner Allan Bakke said, noting that his wife owns the downtown Antique Abbey and would greatly benefit from the idea.

“People have just started understanding that Mortlach should be a destination to want to live in, not (somewhere) that’s (merely) a cheap place to live.”

Many residents, including Marg Apperley, pointed out that Mortlach holds great day-trip potential for Moose Jaw’s adventurous residents.

“It’ll be nice to bring people in because we are really a little hidden gem,” Pratt said. “People around here are fantastic. The events that they put on are amazing…”

Stay tuned for further announcements on the upcoming Meet Me in Mortlach initiative.

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