The Crooked Lake School dates to 1898

Frank Lyft served as first secretary of the district

As settlers arrived in the Wetaskiwin area, their children needed schooling. It did not take long for schools to begin to open in the homes of the settlers but there was a need for a regular school that children could attend.

The Crooked Lake School would be built in 1898 thanks to the organizational effort of several residents including Chris Bye, Carl Turnquist, Gus Peterson and Frank Lyft. Lyft would serve as the first secretary of the district.

Made from logs hauled in by settlers, and locally-made furniture, the school was ready to open and begin the education of local students. The first teacher is believed to be Miss Robinson, who would teach until 1900 when Martha Hunter took over. She taught until 1904 when Ethelyn Boyd took over.

By 1907, the old school was not big enough for the number of students in the area and a Mr. Shillinglaw was contracted to build a new school and paid seven dollars to tear down the old school. The first teacher of the new school was either R.L. Davidson or Thomas Maddock. It is not known which of the two had the job, but whoever it was they were paid $60 a month and boarded with Eric Larson.

In 1908, the school was painted by Dick Humbke, who was paid $65 for the job. The first flagpole was installed by a Mr. Wicklund in 1910. Teachers would come and go through the years with Mary Sproule teaching from 1910 to 1911, and earning $720, while Robert Brydan took over in 1912. It was in that same year that a stable was installed at the school. One year later, Dr. Stevenson vaccinated all the children. By 1914, there were 13 girls and 14 boys attending the school.

As was typical for most one-room schoolhouses, school was closed in January due to the cold weather and poor roads.

The school continued to expand into the 1920s. In 1920, a basement was installed, as was a furnace to help keep the children warm. By that same year, Bernadine Luther was teaching and earning $1,200 per year.

In 1926, with enrolment still growing, the decision was made to move the school to a more central location.

By 1931, with The Great Depression causing severe monetary shortages, Agnes Svenson was hired to teach at a cost of $900 a year, well below what teachers were making a decade earlier. By 1934, that pay was down to $700 for a year and a half of teaching.

By 1954, enrolment had fallen, and schools were opening in larger centres nearby. That year, the last meeting of the school trustees and ratepayers was held. The Crooked Lake School was closed, and the building was sold to Otto Burkhardt for $75.

Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at crwbaird@gmail.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for “Canadian History Ehx”.

Information for this column comes from Treasured Memories: Gwynne and District.

-by Craig Baird for The Pipestone Flyer

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