Actonvale School - SD 674

This is the story of Actonvale School which for over 50 years was an active one room, one teacher Saskatchewan school teaching Grades 1 through 8.

On July 23, 1902 Actonvale School District #674 NWT was formed. The original 24’ x 38’ x12’ white wooden schoolhouse was built in 1902 on the southeast corner of SW-6-10-15. The building was constructed by William Hudson in six weeks at a cost of $1000 for material and $100 for labour. 

The Actonvale name came from one of the early settlers, perhaps Mr. Aconley (see below).

The first teacher was C. McGill Hamilton who was paid $45 per month. Eva Mitchell (Sherrick) took over the task in 1905-06 at $50 per month. There were only five pupils in that year.

The first annual meeting was January 10, 1903 chaired by W. J. Douglas (no relation), attended by four trustees James Stein, R. George, James Pulfer, Albert Shaw and William Chappell, Joseph Aconley, James Moore, William White. There was a motion to close the school until April 1st, perhaps due to the harsh winter conditions.

See Mr. VanHiles 1926 School Report
when Chrissie Douglas was in Grade 3

The original schoolhouse was replaced in 1929 (or 1931?) by a brick school at a cost of $4000. The old school house was bought by E. J. Reaney and moved to his farmyard where it was still standing in 1999.

In those days the school not only served as a place to educate the children of the district, but also served as a community centre for the people of the area for Christmas parties, dances, card parties in the winter and ball games on long summer evenings after farm chores were done. The school barn would be taxed to the limit with teams of horses, which pulled sleigh loads of people who came for miles to spend an evening together.

A charge of $1 was levied for use of the schoolhouse, $5 for outside events, 25 cents for lighting a fire, and 10 cents for use of lamps.

Actonvale School as it was in November 1998.

Miscellaneous Notes:

In 1946 a teacherage was built on the school property.

In 1957 the centralized school system began. Public school students were taken to the new Queen Elizabeth School in Weyburn by school bus.

Bicycles, horse back and horse drawn buggies were still the  common modes of transportation for school children until the day it closed.

On April 19, 1971 there was a motion to close the books on Actonvale, close the office and transfer all records to the Weyburn School unit office.

There was a surplus of funds that were used to purchase the Actonvale Trophy for the annual competitions at Queen Elizabeth School in Weyburn.

Don Douglas remembers:
Ladies brought lunch and a couple of men would volunteer to go to Fred Partridge’s house, a half mile down the road, to make coffee in a large copper boiler and have it back by midnight.

Local talent supplied the music. Admission for dances was 25 cents in order to pay the band members $1.25 each for the evening.

Chrissie MacDonald remembers:
The unofficial school holiday because of a family of skunks that lived under old Actonvale School.

Sitting in school with skates on in readiness for a dash to the iced over pond in Porter’s pasture east of the school barn.

Double desks shared with someone you didn’t agree with, a deep line carved down the centre, no overlapping of books or elbows.

Frozen inkwells and cold feet, a "Good Cheer" stove with long lengths of stovepipe that warmed up at 10:30am. A boy trying to get warm ended up with "Good Cheer" burned on the back of his jacket.

The oat sheaf in your buggy disappearing because someone forgot to bring his horses lunch.

Hours of practice with Miss Brown for Music Festivals and Christmas Concerts, always a success.

Alice MacDonald remembers:
I hated walking behind strange horses amidst smelly manure to tie up our horse in the allotted stall.

The only strap I got was for getting my rubber boots filled with water as I ignored the rule not to go outside the schoolyard.

The boys made the girls run the gauntlet to get to the water pump in the basement. Of course we were often thirsty.

Class of '55

November 2006
Chrissie Douglas (Christina MacDonald) erects a marker at the site of Actonvale School

Some of the local residents that received their education at Actonvale School:

Left to Right:
Art Weber, George Robertson, Chrissie Douglas,
Walter Besler, Jim Crozier,
Albert McKague, Gary Wahl (hiding),  Leonard Lenz,
John Porter, Marvin Martin, Ross Douglas

Murray Douglas from Montreal later had his picture taken with Chrissie