Tag Archives: School district

Locate Your Saskatchewan Place-name

8 Nov Genealogy Research
Genealogy Research

Genealogy Research

Is it truly Irksome to search and research for the ancestral placename, and come up empty in the middle of your genealogical research? What are some hints and tips for discovering the place recorded from oral history, ancestral correspondence or on primary source documents? Out of the chaos can, indeed, come clarity and resolution by following the next few steps for ancestral place name research in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

    • First note the date of the document. Correspondence or documents dated before 1905 would refer to a place name of the North West Territories, as Saskatchewan did not become a province until 1905. In the North West Territories after 1882 there were three provisional districts , known as;
      1. Assiniboia, Assa
      2. Saskatchewan, Sask.
      3. Athabasca (Athabaska)

      The boundaries for the NWT and for the provisional districts are different from the contemporary province of Saskatchewan, and had some overlaps with Manitoba and Alberta.

    • Abbreviations for the province changed, Saskatchewan was once Sask., and now is SK. Canada was Can. and is now CA. The North West Territories has always been NWT, unless in French, in which case it is Territoires du nord-ouest; T.N.-O. There is a placename, currently the provincial largest city called Saskatoon without abbreviation not to be confused with Saskatchewan.
    • if it is the 1921 Census, then the place of habitation recorded by the enumerator is likely the Rural Municipality
    • In the early pioneering days, travel by horse and cart, meant that places were much closer together. With the advent of paved highways and motorized vehicles, urban centres grew, and smaller rural placenames folded away. Historic places such as Copeau may be found on historic maps, on the Canadian Library and Archives Post Offices website, or in one of the placename books published by Bill Barry, such as Geographic Names of Saskatchewan.
    • Searching for the ancestral name in homestead listings will determine the legal land location. Using this information, turn to an historic map to view the neighbouring sidings, post offices, elevators and placenames on the railway lines.
    • Be aware that placenames may have changed names over the course of time. This Analysis of Saskatchewan Placenames lists a few of these name changes.
    • Another fabulous repository would be cemetery listings which are coming online. These databases not only list the cemeteries, but usually closest locality and the Rural Municipality. The Saskatchewan Genealogy Society has listed over 3,000 cemeteries, and has two separate listings online
    • Pioneers often referred to their locale by the One room school house district in which they resided. The Sk One Room Schoolhouse project has close to 6,000 school district names with their locations.

So get creative and when looking up a place name on correspondence, in the released census or in birth, marriage or death certificates use some of the helpful hints above to locate where your ancestor resided in Saskatchewan. Genealogy research should not be an irksome task, make sense from the chaos, and get past your brick wall with success.

~written by Julia Adamson webmaster Sask Gen Web

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.

Schools Close: Lack of Teachers in Saskatchewan’s History

29 Sep

The Inveterate Fox

Schools Close: Lack of Teachers in Saskatchewan’s History


How are pupils supposed to learn? School trustees, inspectors and the Department of Education addressed the lack of teachers in Saskatchewan’s One Room School houses.


Parents, students and school districts across the province of Saskatchewan dealt with a serious shortage of teachers through the first half of the twentieth century.

in the early 1930s there were 4,371 rural schools operated under 4,371 school districts, and this number multiplied to 5,151 by the end of 1937. 1941 counted 8,628 teachers, of which 76% had been been paid less than $700 per annum.


The dearth of teachers arose from several factors. In the early settlement era there were no trained teachers out west. “Studies show that teacher expertise is the most important factor in student achievement” (1996, p. 6) according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.


After Normal schools were established, teachers may opt for more profitable career paths in the private sector. Service in the armed forces deprived the country school of teachers who enlisted. The drought and depression years saw a mass exodus from the farm and rural areas to the cities in hopes of employment.


“Who can blame the teachers for quitting and forsaking their profession? The low salaries, which had to be collected in main directly from the farmers who were themselves in serious financial straits, were certainly not conducive to enthusiasm among the teaching profession — even if they were paid, which quite often they were not,” stated Mr. Townley – Smith, President of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association, in the February 19, 1942 edition of The Leader Post


School districts through the early 1900s posted want ads proliferously seeking teachers for the one room schoolhouses. School trustees were advised that “School boards advertising for teachers will invariably obtain more satisfactory returns if the amount of salary is stated in the advertisement. In the case of school districts not located at a railway station, it is advisable to state distance of school from station and from boarding house.” The Morning Leader Feb 14, 1917


As of 1944, schools with an enrolment of less than 15 students closed, and accordingly, 2,750 schools closed between 1951-1971. “One has to only look at the ‘teachers wanted’ columns of the newspapers’, to see the serious teacher shortage said G.D. Eamer, general secretary of the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation in the August 30 edition of the 1963 Saskatoon Star Phoenix.


As a consequence of school closures, parents and students of closed school districts faced long distance and transportation expense to new schools. The shortage of teachers and school closures hit the remote areas the hardest.

Teaching attracted men and women to the profession as a transitional step page 151. Men may start out in teaching as a stepping stone in their career. Women viewed the teaching career as a journey of independence, community status and an opportunity for marriage or adventure.


“Nevertheless, most teachers found that the rewards of teaching outweighed the troubles.”…teachers remember page 156 “the beam on her students’ faces when they first learned to read, ‘ when it finally click[ed] and they [got] it.”


“In spite of these difficulties the majority of immigrants planned to provide their children with an education, hoping that their decision would give the youngsters a better chance in life than they had themselves. Eventually a school district would be formed and a building of some sort erected. It mattered little whether it was of log, stone, sod, mud or boards so long as it could be called a school. Yet with all its shortcomings and lack of qualified teachers it was able to educate.” introduced John C. Charyk page 1, in The Little White Schoolhouse.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)

Further Reading


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The Era of Saskatchewan One Room School Houses

3 Feb

True Eyes

The Era of Saskatchewan One Room School Houses

A new school every day for 20 years was the early slogan across Saskatchewan, and indeed, Saskatchewan saw an exponential growth in one room school house districts expanding from about 500 in 1900, 1,000 in 1906 to 2,500 in 1916 and close to 4,000 by 1916, over 5,000 in 1947. By 1954 the number of school districts had fallen from a high of 5000 thousand to just over 1000. Eighty percent of country schoolhouses were closed. By 1960 eight out of every ten school houses have been closed.

These one room school houses may have started out as sod houses such as the INDIANOLA school at Aneroid and the sod school house at Handford, several early school districts constructed log school houses including for instance, TIMBERLOST log school, VIOLETDALE School District No. 4781, BEAVERDALE School District No 374, WHITESAND School District No 271, WINDSOR School District No 265, MONT NEBO School District No 442, CLEAR VALLEY School District No 4358, AND VAUGHN School District No 319 to name but a few. Occasionally these log school houses served the community until the school closed such as MONT NEBO School District No 442. FAIRLIGHT schooL 282 was one of the few which was constructed of prairie stone.

It was after 1912 that plans for school houses became formalized and school districts built wood frame schools following plans laid out by the provincial government. Pioneers could avail themselves of complete set of school building or home lumber, windows and plans shipped out from the T. Eaton’s Co. catalogue.

During the early survey system, a 6 mile by 6 mile square township had two one mile by one mile sections, 11 and 29, allocated as school land. When there was a minimum of ten children within a twenty square mile area, then a school district could assemble with three or more adults. This school district could hold a local survey for interest in a school and petition the provincial government for a new school in their area. within a 20 square mile area.

The subsequent meetings would determine the most centralized location to construct a schoolhouse as at times sections 11 and 29 may not be conducive to building upon or if not centrally located to the majority of children in the area. Students may travel up to five miles to attend school.

This distance would be hard to traverse in winter across deep snow, without adequate snow apparel, or without family horse and the school houses themselves may not be insulated. In 1913 the road system consisted of miles of nothing but prairie trails. During the early 1900s, there was a shortage of educated teachers, and again during World War I. The 1920s were a boom time in the prairies, followed by a devasting depression and recession during which time many school houses fell into disrepair due to a lack of labour and funding. There was a depletion in the work force during World War II, and again necessary improvements and repairs to school houses were left untended.

For this reason a typical one room schoolhouse in the early 1900s may only be open from spring to late summer allowing children to help with the harvest in the fall months. A typical “summer school” year may operate March 15 / April 1 through until Oct 31, and sometimes into December in this case of a mild winter.

The depression saw an exodus of families able to sustain themselves on the small family farm, and the population migrated to urban centers in search of employment. The farm sizes increased from a small quarter section to farms encompassing several sections of land. By the 1940s vehicles, combines, and improved travel conditions enable a farmer to maintain a larger farm size with success, and the majority of families own automobiles. Prairie trails are replaced by tar-bound macadam (tarmac). Urban centers erect large composite schools, and the few remaining children living in rural areas are bussed into towns and cities.

Upon closing the one room schoolhouse, the buildings and outbuildings were often sold to be re-used as graineries, barns, stores or renovated into homes. A few one room schoolhouses remained serving as a community center. Some were demolished and their wood re-used in construction projects. Some communities converted their one room schoolhouses into museums. There are also schoolhouses which have been restored in their original locations, and others which have been left to weather without repair.

Image:True Eyes

“Those true eyes Too pure and too honest in aught to disguise The sweet soul shining through them”

Owen Meredith
______________________________________________________________________ _________

Related Posts:

Love and Marriage.

Why were Canadian “Last Best West” homesteads created?

For more information:
Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouse Project


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