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West Athabasca School

Athabasca

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place


Heritage Value


Character-Defining Elements


Location



Street Address: 4717 - 47 Avenue
Community: Athabasca
Boundaries: Lot 17A, Block 19, Plan 1122460
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
22
66
16
13 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1122460
19
17A


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
54.716608 -113.282450 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Registered Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2004/10/12

Historical Information

Built: 1914/01/01 To 1914/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s)
Historic Function(s): Education : One-Room School
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

When the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) improved its trail between Fort Edmonton and Athabasca Landing in 1878, it was with the expressed purpose of abandoning the Methay Portage fur trade route east from Fort McMurray on the Clearwater River. Henceforth, most fur from the Athabasca and Mackenzie River systems would be shipped up the Athabasca River to the Landing, and, from there, over the Landing Trail to Fort Edmonton. This made the Landing a very important point in the fur trade, a point which was augmented in the early twentieth century when steamers of the Northern Transportation Company began taking people and supplies bound for the Peace River Country down the Athabasca River from the Landing to the mouth of the Lesser Slave River, and, from there, on to Lesser Slave Lake and Grouard. With this, the population of the Landing began to grow, and the community began to sport many of the amenities of a northern commercial centre. In 1906, Athabasca Landing was incorporated as a village, and, in 1911, it became a town with over 500 people, and was re-named Athabasca.

Among the amenities provided by the community was education. In 1903, the Athabasca School District 839 was incorporated, and the log school served the community until 1908, when a larger structure was built. By 1910 however, homesteaders began to enter the district around Athabasca, with the land having just been surveyed. Then, in the summer of 1912, the Canadian Northern (CN) Railway arrived from Edmonton. This made farming in the district even more viable, and, that very year, three school districts were incorporated to the south and east of the town. To the west, a school district was formed at Lahaiville (north of Baptiste Lake) in 1912, and, two years later, a school district was incorporated for the people living just straight west of Athabasca. This was called the West Athabasca School District 3110. That same year, a wood frame school was constructed on a portion of the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 66, Range 23, West of the Fourth Meridian, on land owned by H.P. Jacobson. The one-room structure was built with volunteer help supervised by Colin Johnson. The teacher was a Miss Cross, and, at the time, six children were in attendance.

As time passed, the district of west Athabasca did not grow considerably. The area was on the edge of the boreal forest, and, although Athabasca had received a railway in 1912, it was extended no further. Both the Alberta and Great Waterways and the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia lines bypassed the district to the east and west respectively during 1914 to 1915. As a result, there was no clamour for a larger school in west Athabasca, and so, the original 1914 structure was able to survive. By the end of World War Two however, district roadways had improved to such an extent that it made sense to have the children of the district bussed a few miles into town. In 1948, the 1914 structure was also moved into town and placed on Block 19, Lot 17 on Fleming Street near the centre of town, among several other early twentieth century dwellings. Here, it was made to accommodate mostly elementary students. It was closed as a school in 1951, but used occasionally after that as a church and a Sunday school for the Missionary Church Society.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the West Athabasca School lies in its provision of basic education to children living west of the Town of Athabasca for most of the first half of the twentieth century. It is also important for its accommodation of educational and church functions in the years following its relocation to Athabasca in 1948.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0894
Designation File: DES 2148
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 29785
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2148)
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