LeRoy, Saskatchewan:

100 years of Growing Together

How agriculture plays a critical role in one Saskatchewan small town.


Located along highway 761, the town of LeRoy doesn’t get much traffic passing through. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Saskatoon, two hours from Regina, and 20 minutes from Humboldt. But the tight-knit community thrives on hard work and working together. “I think it’s just part of the community,” resident of LeRoy, Donavon Block said. “It’s just a cooperative community. People look after what they want to see survive.”

That community spirit was well-demon-strated when the town’s hockey arena burned down in 2013. Within three and a half years, the community raised $5.6 million to rebuild the arena.

“It really goes to show the strength and resilience of a small community, such as ours,” Mayor of LeRoy, Kurt Schreiner said.

“LeRoy has a very strong volunteer spirit, and you can always find people to help for a good cause. There is something to be said for small towns achieving big dreams.”

The Town of LeRoy

The first known settlement around LeRoy was by Salteaux Indian Chief Yellow Quill and his band in the 1800s. In the 1860s, after Federal Indian Treaties were negotiated for the area, the land was settled by European settlers of English, Scotch, Irish and Scandinavian descent.

The town gets its name from John LeRoy, a man whose family was one of the first to settle in the area and died in World War I.

LeRoy was officially incorporated as a village in 1922 and became a town in 1963. Today, around 500 people live in the community, which has many amenities, including two restaurants, a school, and a growing number of retail stores. Many people in the community enjoy the LeRoy Leisureland Regional Park, a short drive from the town centre. The community is also awaiting the opening of the BHP Jansen potash mine, which is expected to be fully operational by 2027.

BHP and its employees are already active members of the community, having donated $1 million towards the new arena. The new mine will create jobs for LeRoy and grow the town. But along with basic amenities, the community of LeRoy has a diverse and growing agricultural sector that captures the agricultural opportunities in the area and provides employment for many residents.

"I think it's just part of the community. It's just a cooperative community. People look after what they want to see survive."

-Donovan Block, Director, District Five

A growing agricultural community

The McGrath family has farmed in the LeRoy area for generations. The family owns three farm operations: Sinnett Pork Farm Ltd., Leroy Feeds, and a family grain farm of 22,000 acres.

Sinnett Pork Farm Ltd. opened in 1997 and is a farrow to finish hog barn and always has between 30,000-35,000 pigs on feed at any given time. The operation doubled its size in 2006.

LeRoy Feeds was a spin-off business for the hog farm and opened in 2009. The mill ensured the hog farm had feed for the pigs and now produces over 125,000 tonnes of feed each year. The mill supports many local farmers by buying their grain. Jay McGrath said he’s involved in all three operations, but he’s the lead on the hog farm and feed mill. The grain farm is a family operation between Jay and extended family members. Jay said he’s fortunate to work so closely with his family and grow their businesses.

“We’ve always found a way to keep things together,” Jay said.

Between the Sinnett Pork Farm and Leroy Feeds, the McGrath family employs around 50 people. There are many long-term employees of the two businesses, and since 2006, several employees of the two operations are from the Philip-pines, resulting in a huge spin-off effect for LeRoy.

“The school went from being on the chopping block because there weren’t enough kids, to really thriving,” Jay said. “Our school has been really good on numbers, and a lot of it is because we have a very big Filipino community that works for us. We try to bring people over that have one, two or three kids, and that helps the school out.”

Jay has two grown sons who live in LeRoy and work in the family businesses. His family is like many others, and he credits the agricultural sector for having provided opportunities for people to stay.

“Everyone seems to grow up being proud of where they are from, and there’s got to be something here to stay, and agriculture has always provided all kinds of opportunities,” Jay said.

Jay said the McGrath family farming operations are just one part of LeRoy’s business community. He said every business owner and every employee has a role to play, and their efforts are all essential to the progress of LeRoy.

“We have two different garages in town, and there’s two restaurants,” Jay said.

“Those people are crucial too. We still need people to do these things. There’s a lot of other small business owners in town, and everybody seems to have their niche, and that’s what it’s all about. It all comes together.”

A sentiment Mayor Schreiner also agrees with. Having a strong agricultural community has allowed other local businesses in LeRoy to thrive.

“The opportunity for townsfolk to buy local, literally farm to fork, is so much greater when that field or that barn is just out the back door or maybe a couple miles away,” Schreiner said. “The rural community is a strong support for our local businesses and fundraising initiatives, creating a strong relationship between urban and rural neighbours.”

"LeRoy has a very strong volunteer spirit, and you can always find people to help for a good cause. There is something to be said for small towns achieving big dreams."

- Kurt Schreiner, Mayor of LeRoy

Generations of farming

Similar to Jay’s family, Donavon Block was born in LeRoy at the hospital and said he’s never wanted to live anywhere else. He grew up farming alongside his parents and raised three children with his wife Pearl in the area. Two of their children still live in LeRoy. Donavon and Pearl continue to farm with their son Cody and his wife, Kim. The four of them have a grain farm and a cow-calf operation. Block has always been an active commu-nity member, having served as a board member for many organizations. He’s served as a board member for the Co-op, the Credit Union, minor hockey, the curling club, his church, and the elder board. Block is currently an APAS board member.

“Most of the things I’ve been interested in were for my family or agriculture,” Block said. “I have a passion for agriculture.” Block is still devastated over the men’s senior hockey team not hitting the ice for the 2021-22 season. But he’s optimistic about the community’s future with the BHP mine eventually opening. He also said immigration is bringing lots of young families to the area.

“With the mine opening, there’s going to be a lot of spin-off businesses. You’re going to have an influx of young people coming to the community. I think there’s a good chance there could be a senior team again.”

He said as LeRoy marks its 100th anniversary in 2022, a lot is happening in the community now, and a lot more is to come. “LeRoy was 450 people for a long time, and now it’s close to 550,” Block said. “It’s definitely growing. And LeRoy’s got a lot of things going for it. It’s a very good community.”

"Everyone seems to grow up being proud of where they are from, and there's got to be something here to stay, and agriculture has always provided all kinds of opportunities."

- Jay McGrath

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