MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
The government had rules to follow if any region wished
to have a school. Residents of the proposed school
district must meet, and appoint a committe of at least
three taxpayers to serve as school trustees. This board
of trustees had to apply to the government for permission
to designate the area as a school district. The district
could only be four or five miles square and must
correspond with adjoining districts. The proposed site
of the school was to be central so that it would be easy
for children to get there as there was no transportation
other than horse, or horse and buggy. A minimum of eight
students were required who were between the ages of five
and eighteen. There had to be at least four residents of
the district who would be liable for the assessment of taxes
for school purposes.
In the early days the board was in charge of the acquisition
of the property, and the building and maintenance of the
school. The school was usually one room, about 22' x 30'
in area. The community had to raise their own money for
the operation of the school through taxes levied on the rate-
payers and through fund-raising events. Through meetings
and social gatherings held there, it soon became the
community centre of the district. Box socials, church on
Sunday, school board meetings, Christmas concerts,
political meetings and dances were held at the school.
The teachers were hired and paid by the local board. They
were not provided accomodation but had to find room and
board at one of the homes in the district. They quite often
had no means of transportation so would look for a place as
close to the school as possible. Some teachers agreed to
sweep out the school, but in most schools, trustees hired
a neighbour or an older student to act as janitor and make
sure that coal for the stove and water for drinking, were
brought in daily and to see to the fire every morning. In
districts, teacherages were built beside the school, so a
teacher might have a place of her own.
The story of the rural shcoolhouse is one of initiative,
determination, disappointment and courage. Yet it is a
story encompassing a period of only 75 years. Small
rural schools came into being at the beginning of the
20th century, grew steadily with each new wave of
immigration, flourished in the thirties and early forties,
and started to decline after World War II, and now, have
disappeared almost entirely.
The provincial ordinance relating to the formation of
public school districts left the responsibility of naming
each district to the local residents. Today knowing how
a school district got its name gives a bit of local history
to present residents of the area.
The Department of Education assigned numbers to the
school districts. The first school district formed was
number one, number two the next and so on. This did
not however, apply to Alberta.
When the Territorial Council set up schools in what is
now Saskatchewan and ALberta, they began with
Moose Jaw S.D. No. 1 and numbered the districts as
they were formed. When the two provinces were
formed Alberta continued on from the last school
enumerated which was Bow Valley S. D. 1409. The
next one in the new province in 1905 was 1410.
Saskatchewan went back to No. 1 for its school
districts and renumbered many of them.
Some Alberta school districts had been formed before
the 1905 formation of the separate provinces, hence
White School District No. 678.