Saskatchewan One Room School Project provides an online history for current generations to enjoy, preserve, and experience, our historical educational, architectural, and cultural, heritage.

School District Listing Organisation




School House Memory; History of Education honoured.

This brief summary outlines why one schoolhouse may have more than one entry in the databases. As new sources come along, the database may become more definitive. Unfortunately, just as the physical structures of one room schoolhouses are disappearing due to decay if they were not restored, so too is the history of the one room schoolhouse. "In 1979, the new School Act abolished all rural school districts which now exist only in the memory of those who cherished their little country school house."102 It is to assist memory preservation, and to honour the history of education in the province which gave birth to the Saskatchewan One Room School House project.

Location Additions

If, when you are using the One Room School House listings, you realize that you have additional information please Email it in, and this database will be updated with your new information, and greatly appreciated by others seeking information on that site. Looking through all the databases to date, local history books, local community signs, historic Rural Municipality maps, the actual school house building, school building photographs, school district records, two separate Provincial Archive typed listings, Department of Education hand written listings, school house files stored at Provincial Archives and/or Canadian Archives records, it still may not uncover a known location for the schoolhouse, so these are listed as unknown until all the books and files are opened. In a few instances one room school house records were lost if the school building was destroyed by fire or lightning, in this case there is no file at provincial archives, and the local history book committee provides the information to the best of their knowledge from interviews and town documentation. Footnotes supply links or information about the sources used so far which is updated periodically for new sources and references.

School yard size

The school yard itself was one to four acres in size. An acre is 165 feet by 264 feet or 0.0015625 square miles, 4,840 square yards, 43,560 square feet or about 4,047 square metres. Homesteads or one-quarter sections of land were 160 acres or 65 ha -one half mile by one half mile. The Dominion Land Survey from 1871-1880 allowed for Sections 11 and 29 to be set aside by the Dominion Government for school sections in every surveyed township. A township was 6 square miles. If sections 11 or 29 were located on land not suitable for a school house, then schools could be centered within the community of school children. At times homesteaders would donate the acre or two needed for the school yard from his quarter section of land. Consistently using sections 11 and 29 would mean a walking distance to school of 2 -3 miles.

School district boundaries did change as other school districts were formed in their area, or as populations changed due to the arrival of the rail and town or village formation. The school districts were generally made to limit a child's walking distance to school to 2 -3 miles. Therefore dotting the prairie were one-room school houses erected every seven to eight miles.

School districts and legal land locations

There are School district maps and Township - Range Maps and a tutorial page about sections, townships and ranges. When looking at the maps, a township of land was 6 square miles - usually the scale for township - range maps. On School district maps, the scale refers to a square plot of land 1 mile by 1 mile and is termed a "section" of land or 640 acres. A section is divided with a dashed line on maps denoting a quarter section or 160 acres. Not marked on the maps were the surveyed areas for the grid roads which were allocated at 1 mile and 2 mile intervals determining the division between sections, while at the same time providing access to every quarter section.

 Fairlight School 282 est 1893 classes began on Sec. 24-11-32 W1.         (1 mi by 1 mi)  The Stone School built 1900 SE 20-11-31- W1 .        ( 1/2 mi by 1/2 mi )  The school name was changed to Morningside in 1939 and changed again to Hyde School District on Mar. 28, 1939. Closed 1953.


Image: Segments from 1924 Township - Range Map
with an enlargement of an area depicted by an 1911 School District Map
(Click on image for larger size)
In this case the example shows
Fairlight School 282 est 1893 classes began on Sec. 24-11-32 W1 a known land area of 1 mi by 1 mi
The first school was called "The Stone School" built 1900 SE 20-11-31- W1 a land area 1/2 mi by 1/2 mi
Fairlight school name was changed to Morningside in 1939 and changed again to Hyde School District on Mar. 28, 1939. Closed 1953.

The complete legal land description of Fairlight School District 282 as of 18 April 1911.
    As can be seen on the map the school district is shown as
  • all of sections 31 and 32 Township 11, Range 31 west of the first meridian.
  • Section 36 township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian.
  • West of of section 26, all of sections 27, 28, 29, 30 Township 11, Range 31 west of the first meridian.
  • All of section 25 township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian.
  • The west half of section 23, all of section 22, 21, 20 and 19 Township 11, Range 31 west of the first meridian.
  • All of section 24 township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian.
  • The west half of section 14, all of sections 15, 16, 17 and 18 Township 11, Range 31 west of the first meridian.
  • Section 13 township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian.
  • The west half of section 11 all of section 10, 9, 8, 7 Township 11, Range 31 west of the first meridian.
  • And finally section 7 township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian.


In brief the school district may be given as parts of township 11, range 31 west of the first meridian and part of township 11 range 32 west of the first meridian or abbreviated as Tsp 11 - Rge 31,32 - W1

Now then on the above map it can be seen that the school district does indeed straddle the boundaries of the Rural Municipality of Walpole No. 92 and the R.M. of Maryfield No. 91. At times, the school district may in fact cover a land area with sections west of the second meridian and sections west of the first or prime meridian if the school district happens to be upon the second meridian. EXAMPLE. Likewise, a school district encompassing a land mass around the third meridian may have sections west of the second meridian as well as section west of the third meridian in its complete legal land description. Rural school districts themselves end at the provincial boundaries as the Department of Education (now the Ministry of Education) of the provincial government has dominion over the affairs of education.

IN SUMMARY: one room school house web site did not often go into the complete school district boundaries, as they can go on and on as can be seen above. The school district boundaries did indeed change when a neighbouring school district is established to even out the student population between school houses to balance out student - teacher ratios as much as possible. In that regards, school boundaries may be in fact evolve, and be made larger, or the school district boundaries may contract encompassing a smaller land area.

Provincial Archives and Canadian Archives

Divergent sources were use for the alphabetical listing. The Saskatoon Provincial Archives had a typed up listing, the Regina Provincial Archives had also a computerised and typed up listing. Also the Canadian Archives has a land grant database online supplying locations for some early schoolhouse locations. To get this alphabetical online database initialized, these three were combined as they were fairly extensive. Then additional primary and secondary sources were perused, and are continually being sought to update the web pages.

Local History Books

Local history books which were written for the 75th provincial anniversary and published circa 1981 were also a source of one room schoolhouses and their locations. A few communities also had local history books which were written for the 50th provincial anniversary and published circa 1955. However not every single community local history book, atlas, reference book has yet been read for their information to be added to the database. Accordingly not every community wrote up a local history book. On the alphabetical listing, source books accessed to date are identified with a small number in the sources column which takes the viewer to the bibliography page where the book used as the source is listed.

School House Heritage Signs

The Saskatchewan Folk Lore and Heritage Society and one room school district alumni have erected cairns and signs in remembrance of One Room School Houses at their original locations, and quite often these signs have the location and years of operation additionally added to the school name, and a footnote source given to the photograph where available.

Oftimes the driver or photographer of the schoolhouse cairn or monument would travel to the site and record a the GPS location which helps to identify the location of the historic site. The plaques at the historic sites may also record if the actual schoolhouse location was a distance from the erected monument which may place it in the crop area of a present day farmer's field. In such a case the historic cairn may be located by the highway edge as close as possible to the original school yard site. However, the historical cairn in most cases has been erected at the actual location.

Schools in Museums or Schoolhouses becoming museums

Schoolhouse buildings have been converted into local heritage museums in a few instances across the province. In other museums, schoolhouse buildings still standing may be moved to the local museum site as an example of a typical one room schoolhouse of a bygone era. In the case of these schools, the location is recorded in the museum displays, quite often along with pictures and information about neighbouring one room schoolhouses of the area providing another invaluable source of information on schoolhouse names and their original locales as ascertained by the museum staff or local history committee.

Naming and spelling


The school district used by a community may be found by also checking spelling variants. A local community may also have called their school a nick name, the brick school house, or the red school house rather than the registered name. Many genealogists and historians know the value of searching for surname variations, it is the same for place names and school names. Hearing a word or name may create individual interpretations in spelling, or interpreting hand writing may also cause spelling variations, a typing or transcription error may also cause variations through time. Problems may arise in the pronunciation of a school name which may cause variations in the written word. In some cases a school district name made from two descriptive words may be spelled as one word, or it may be separated into two words and there are records found for both variations. The formation of school districts came when settlers homesteaded in ethnic bloc settlements, and English may not have been the community language until the children attended school. These early immigrant pioneers may have enlisted the help of others in the spelling and registration of the papers for their schoolhouse.

Community Moves Usually Due to Railway Grade

In a few cases communities moved their buildings if the town was established before the railway came through. If the railway was laid a few miles away from the existing town, residents would pick up and move closer to this new mode of transportation. A similar change in town growth occurred on arrival of highways, but this did not affect the schoolhouses as much at this later date (1950s-1960s).

Sections 11 and 29

Also, when communities were originally surveyed, the Dominion Government set aside lands for particular purposes. Township 11 and 29 were set aside for school sections. These sections were used when prudent, however if the majority of children lived closer to another township, oft times the farmer homesteading that quarter section would give up or sell a portion of land for a centrally located schoolhouse. Also, if Section 11 or 29 were under water in a slough area, or near the cemetery, they would not comply with guidelines set out by the fledgling Department of Education. If the original designated sections 11 or 29 were not suitable, another location could be found in the community. This change of decision may have also affected the database where more than one location is given for a one room schoolhouse.

School Houses were Moved

From the local history books and local signs it has been ascertained that schoolhouses would be moved occasionally. The physical structure actually was dragged behind steam tractors to a new site or torn down and re-built. Also if an original schoolhouse was built and then was burned to the ground in a raging prairie grass fire, or perhaps it was struck by lightning, then the restored schoolhouse may not be erected at the same location. The new school house would be constructed in a central location to the student population as of this new date. For example see New Finland School #435 and Ozeriany Carpathian SD #2722. If the ratepayer's held a meeting and at the school district meeting it was ascertained that due to shifts in population, the old school house was no longer centrally located to the children in attendance, then when renovation time came around, the old building may be sold and a new one re-built on a new more centralized location. Regarding the re-locations. Now then if the school re-located the one room school house project has been implementing the dates column to signify that alteration, and the use of "A" "B" etc after the school name will be phased in, to indicate that the school name stayed the same, however the location was changed, and the dates column should show the dates of operation at the first location for "A" and dates of operation for the second location for "B" where such is known. This standard has been used on the Sk One Room School house porject for the rural school districts, and not for the village and town schools for as they grew, and expanded they may have moved from street to street within the community, not affecting the legal land location of the village or town.

School House Documentation

Sometimes one source would have only a partial legal land description, and another source would differ entirely (but be in the same locale). Sometimes two sources agreed with each other, yet another source acknowledged a different site. All the locations from all the sources are listed in the database, giving rise to the same name and school district number but with various locations but all are very near each other. Without further insight there was not a way to distinguish which source was correct. And they all may be correct if the schoolhouse was moved. The original typed or hand written databases or sources usually did not provide their primary source documentation for follow up.
In the comments column is a link to the footnotes page which identifies the footnotes in the database and how it conforms to the locations on that line. The footnotes all link to the source supplied on the footnotes page. When the source was not from a database, but from a book or submitter, a link was provided to the bibliography or the webpage addition to the One Room School House Project in the case of a photograph of a school or school monument, or reader submitted story.

School Name used in Two Locations Reasons for Many Locations - One Schoolhouse

Town Name and School Name

Occasionally homesteaders adopted the school district name for their region before the town was established. Quite often the neighbouring rail siding and post office when it formed had a distinct name. When the town sprang up it often times used the name of the school district as the town name. If the one room school house was located outside the town borders, town council may request that the school built in town have the same name as the town. The rural one room schoolhouse of that name may then give up their name for the in town school.

Organisational meeting school site v.s. actual construction site

Some locations may have been given from school organizational meeting notes - where the community was planning to establish the site. On actual construction there were occasionally documented changes to the location when the physical structure was erected.

Amalgamation of School Districts and School District re-organisation

In some areas Mr. Oatway, one of the Saskatchewan One Room School house researchers, found that there were two locations for the same school and in questioning this he was told that sometimes the schools were moved if there weren't enough students in one area or if two school districts amalgamated resulting in two schools becoming too close together. Red Lauttamus, another researcher also confirmed this in another Saskatchewan area providing an image of the community school marker showing two locations of the New Finland school district school house building.

School District Location or School House Location

Some school house databases and sources listed the entire school house region which the school house served, rather than the specific location of the actual physical school house building. In this case there may be two or more townships and/or two ranges listed. These school district regional legal land descriptions show up at the end of the township and range and meridian database under miscellaneous. There were also times when a school house building was built on the meeting of quarter sections, where all four joined together, such as MOUNT CRESCENT 911.

Abandoned Name

When a school community meeting was held to establish a one room schoolhouse more than one name were to be submitted to the Department of Education on application for a school district. If their first name was currently use elsewhere in the province, the Department of Education went down the school trustees' school name list of names on the registration form to find a school name not in use already.

It arose on occasion that a school district would apply for a name and the Department of Education would grant them use of that name for their location. If the district population changed and the district could not support a school due to declining student population or other reasons, the school district would fold and the name would be canceled by the Department of Education. In such a case one school district name may have been used once by a school district, canceled and re-assigned to another later forming school district.

There was even at least one instance where a school name and number was assigned in 1905 to GOLDEN VALLEY 1344 in the Perdue region, and then in 1915 when a school district organised in the Ponteix region, again GOLDEN VALLEY 1344 was assigned. This was corrected in 1918, with a name change to GOLDEN VALLEY 1344 in Ponteix, and that school district re-named to HULBERT 107.

Noticeable Discrepancy

If there were more than one location which differed by a large number of miles there was added [sic] to the notation. In such a case perhaps a typing error on the original source document it was noted that differences between locations given by another source, corresponding identically in all legal land description fields bar one. Checking regional place names, IE towns and villages and their locations, it was easy to ascertain which school house location looked more accurate if there was a difference of hundreds of miles between legal land descriptions.

If the location discrepancy was relatively small ...few yards or a short distance between quarter sections suggesting a move or change of location due to fire or construction plan changes, the locations were listed as is.

Here it may be noted that one legal land description township is 6 miles in length, as is the length of one range. One section is one mile by one mile square, and a "quarter section" is just that, one quarter of a one mile square section. Townships, ranges and meridians information, tutorial quiz and map/s

Nearby Town or Post Office

In some cases if there was a large discrepancy in two or more sources for locations, but the original source database provided a nearby location, then the town or post office location was added to the comments column. In this way it could be observed that the one room school house should be close to a place of a given location yet the location provided for the schoolhouse was erroneous compared to the nearby place. Saskatchewan Placename locations were derived from three main sources either the Canadian Archives Post Office site, the Online Canadian Maps Digitisation Project with historical maps of Saskatchewan or by -Querying Canadian Geographical Names at the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB)

Note some placenames such as Wawota (for Example) have School houses west of the 2nd MeridianAND School houses west of the 1st Meridian. This is correct as they were near the meridian line. Check out Wawota close up township - range - meridian map or the various school district maps

School District Maps

Checking school district locations can be done with the school district maps if the school district number is known.

Department of Education Re-assigns Number

In the North West Territories the 1884 Territorial Ordinance #5 allowed for the formationof school districts. School Districts were given numbers in the order by which the areasapplied for. This sorting by School District Number then gives an idea of the NWT earlysettlement patterns, and school house formation by year. When Saskatchewan and Albertabecame provinces in 1905, numbers previously in use in Alberta were canceled and re-appliedto School Districts of Saskatchewan.

When the two provinces were formed Alberta continuednumerically incrementing from the last school District Number which was at that time BowValley S. D. 1409. The next one of Alberta therefore numbered was 1410. Saskatchewanthen re-used any numbers which were now not being used and therefore some School Districtsmay have two names attached to them...the early use of the number in Alberta, and later usein Saskatchewan.

These school houses in Alberta are west of the fourth and west of the fifth meridian. Saskatchewan locations must be west of the first, second or third meridian. Manitoba also has locations west of the first or prime meridian as the provincial border does not rest on a meridian on the east side of Saskatchewan.

Schoolhouse District Organisation

Using full text disclosure allows the observer to find another source outside of the sources documented here, to confirm or dispute the given sources and if in fact one schoolhouse had more than one location. This orgnaisation also allows the observer to follow up on community history to ascertain for themselves original school house meeting notes from either local history books or delving into that particular schoolhouse folder at the Regina Public Archives. Even looking through a quantity of archival folders at the Regina Public Archives, they did not always contain the school house location.

Genealogy

On seeking a comprehensive listing for Saskatchewan placenames for historical letters, birth or death certificate, envelope or post card addresses many pioneers used the school district name for the address of their homestead as they lived in that district. This One Room School District Site compliments the Saskatchewan Placename listing and its sources.

Dates

For further clarification please refer to the Sources or Footnotes for the SK one room School House Project. There is compiled a more detailed listing from the local history books which have been searched to date. The footnotes page tracks the books perused. In recording dates, it is noted that plaques and communities referred to the "opening" date most often as the school district date of incorporation however, there have been instances found where the date recorded is when classes commenced. The local history / family biography books compiled c1955 and c1981 for the two provincial anniversaries list both start up dates (school district organisation and first class date) fairly consistently as a rule. Much more consistently, the closure date on plaques, by community historians and in books refers to the date of the last class.

Some local history books went further and also stated the year of the last class AND the date when the school district was no longer incorporated, which at times was 2 to 9 years on average after the last class. Throughout the pioneer education history, the one room school houses may have closed for various reasons, no teacher, flu, burned down building, low student population, and then the one room schoolhouse would open up when this hurdles were overcome in a few years. But most school districts saw the end when the consolidated schools started, highways became asphalt and could be snow-plowed, and buses could be used dependably year round.

The Notes column helps to discern between the first school and the second school (and third) if more than one school was erected. With changes in school district boundaries to accommodate both newly opened neighbour districts and changing student populations, when the first school was destroyed by fire, or needed to be modernized, then sometimes the first school will show a closure date, and a new set of dates will be attached to the second school house which may be erected in the same school yard, or in a more centralized location in the school district. This may show an earlier closure date than 1940 to 1960.

Alphabetical or Regional Databases

As the information is stored in a sortable database, there arose the online database arranged alphabetically by school house name. Then it was resorted alphabetically by region or town name marked as red in the right hand column. The database was then sorted by township and range and meridian and put online. There may be a need to see the school district numerical listing as the numbers were generally assigned chronologically, so this database sorting gives an idea of when it was constructed earlier or later. This school district number listing also gives a clue as to re-naming of a schoolhouse, as the number oft times remained the same even if the name changed. The hand written school district database transcribed online with permission from the Ministry of Education and the Saskatchewan Provincial Archives shows an account of school district names and numbers as well.

Organisation and Disorganisation of School Districts

A term in the dates column may say “disorg 1904.”

"disorg 1904" would mean that the school district disorganised on that date.

The community would make application to the Department of Education (now the Ministry of Education) to petition for a school district if they had the minimum number of children in their area. Then the Department would reply, with a school name and district number, the name selected from a choice of about three sent in by the school district trustees. When the Department offered the community their name and number, the school district was "organised" in that year. The classes would open sometimes in an existing building, or wait now until the trustees assembled the funds and supplies to erect a school house and hire a teacher. Then it could be determined the first date of classes.

The classes would end usually coinciding with the time the one room school house administrative duties were assumed by the new Amalgamated "School Units" which administered a larger area, on occasion a school house would survive a few years past this time. The formation of the School Units, meant that the Consolidated Schools in the larger towns and villages were being favoured.

The one room school district trustees, would continue to meet, often annually after the closure of the school. At times the student population of the district changed after a school closure, and the school re-opened, or other unforeseen problems arose, and the school re-opened after closure. Duties within the one room school house may have continued for the school trustees to arrange transportation to convey the pupils from the rural areas to the consolidated schools. The rural school trustee duties were being taken over by the school unit. It fell to the rural one room school house trustees to allocate the purpose of the school house as a hall or community centre. When it was decided that the school was to remain closed, then it was decided by the trustees whether to sell the school house to a private buyer, or whether to allocate the school house to another school yard to be used as a secondary classroom, or if the school would become a community centre or museum for the area. After the school house was thus considered then the school trustees had no more reason to meet in meetings, and they applied to the Department of Education to be "disorganised". Some school districts disorganised the same year as the classes ended, others waited a while, on rare occasions even up to ten years after classes were ended.

Sources

It is important to go to the source which is on the alphabetical school district name pages in the source column to see where the alternate spellings and variations originated.



When a source provides a certain name with its unique, that is the spelling provided, in this way it can be traced. If a school district number is assigned a variation in school name on this web page, it is important, as in genealogy, to go to the source and then to follow up on additional sources of information. All sources are given by the above school name link which will take you to the right page on the alphabetical school district listing which provides links to the footnotes page. Sources used come from local history books, local community signs, historic Rural Municipality maps, the actual school house building, school building photographs, school district records, two separate Provincial Archive typed listings, Department of Education hand written listings, school house files stored at Provincial Archives and/or Canadian Archives records.



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