A local landmark and piece of Kindersley’s history came down over the August long weekend as the demolition of the McKenzie School was completed.
This past week, many residents took to social media to share their fond memories–some spoke of the classes they took while others joked of instances between teachers and students.
While residents remember their time attending the school, 110 years ago, on January 20th, 1911, when two acres of land were selected, the dream of building the McKenzie School was realized.
In August 1911, Miss Edith McKenzie’s application for the position of principal was accepted. Records show that in November 1911, a contest was held to select a name for the school, with the winner receiving $3. Not only did Miss Edith McKenzie receive the honour of the school’s principal, but she was also further linked to the building through name.
The creation of the school was further solidified in September of that year when Clare Reid & Co.’s bid of $19,285.00 was accepted to construct the two-story brick school. A tender of $4,183.90 from Knechtel Co. was accepted to supply the heating.
The first day of school was on Wednesday, August 21st, 1912. Class was held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., breaking from noon to 1 p.m for lunch. A few years later, four rooms were added as the student population bloomed to 200. While the typical Math and English classes were taught, over the years, additions for classes such as Home Economics, Business Training and Shop were made to the school.
After the war, and the closing of many small schools, the need to board rural students became acute, resulting in the addition of a dormitory used from 1948 to 1958, with a peak enrollment of 86.
Finally, after many years of faithfully providing a space for students and their studies, the school closed its doors in June 1964.
When the school was slated for demolition, the town of Kindersley made the decision to move the school’s bell to the Museum in June of this year.
“We received it as the town of Kindersley is demolishing the old school. It will be a safe place for the bell to be enjoyed by visitors from all over the world,” said Anna Polsfut, board secretary for the Kindersley Museum.
One interesting fact about the bell is that it is actually the second one purchased for the school. The first bell was considered too big and thought to be better suited for the Town’s fire bell.
The local history book shares how the school bell, which hung in the belfry, could be heard all over town. It was rung at 8:40 a.m. every morning as a warning and then again at 9 a.m. Records also show that the teachers were to be inside the building before the first bell ceased ringing or must report themselves as ‘late’ on the monthly reports. According to some, the kindly old janitor, Mr. Martin would keep the bell ringing overtime if he saw teachers hurrying up the street.
On July 28th, 2021 the Town of Kindersley put six R2- Medium Density Residential lots up for sale–the area where the school once stood. The town shared that over the years, the building had been for sale, but unfortunately, there was no interest in taking on such a large-scale project.
With the roof beginning to collapse, water had been running through the building, resulting in it becoming extremely hazardous.
In addition to the building being unsafe, it had succumbed to rodents, birds, and extreme vandalism. Therefore, in the state it was in, there was no longer a viable way to ensure the building could be saved, leaving demolition as the only option.
While it is sad to see the local landmark gone, it will be nice to see the land come to life again with homes and families, many of whom will have kids who will one day share their memories of attending our other other local schools.
For the latest information and for more updates on everything Kindersley ‘Like’ the Kindersley Social Facebook page below…