The History of Hardisty School

Hardisty School in 1909The first school classes in the hamlet known as Hardisty were held in the Arcade building, commencing in 1907. With the influx of new settlers and railroad workers with their families, the Arcade was soon overcrowded, so the upstairs of Sullivan's Hall was used. In 1909 a two-room frame building was constructed. A long steep flight of open stairs, built on the outside of the building, gave access to the upper room. By today's standards, this building would be considered a prime fire trap.

Hardisty School in 1914The town continued to grow rapidly and it was soon apparent that the two room school was not adequate, so plans for a larger building were made. In 1914, the new structure opened its four classrooms and accommodated children in grades 1 to 12. Besides the four classrooms, there were two play rooms plus a janitor's room and furnace room. There was no plumbing.

In 1947, many of the rural schools in the surrounding districts were closed, chiefly due to a teacher shortage. The children from these districts were brought by bus to Hardisty, the central point. They were now considered as belonging to the Killam School Division.

It was necessary to provide more classroom space for all these pupils so the old two-room school, which had been condemned years earlier, was reopened. Still more space was required so Crickledale, a rural school, was hauled in to Hardisty and used as a classroom. Children from rural districts of Strong, Velva, Fullview, Silver Lane, Hazelwood, Melbrae and Beehive, as well as Thelma and Rosyth from the Provost school district, all attended Hardisty beginning in September 1947. About 1952, Arnold was also closed and brought to Hardisty.

It was a far from ideal situation for all concerned. In the fall of 1952, the old two-room school housed 82 students and two teachers. Thirty-nine students in grades 3 and 6 occupied the lower room, while forty-three students in grades 4 and 5 were crowded into the upper room, which had been designed for a maximum of 25 students.

Hardisty School in 1962But better conditions were on the way. By 1955 the four-room brick school had a new wing. In the new wing there were five classrooms, a library, a staff room and a gymnasium, complete with a stage. Besides this, the older part of the building was renovated. New lighting and fresh decoration made the classrooms more attractive. Indoor plumbing and a better water supply assured students and teachers of better creature comforts. The school was hooked up to the town water and sewage systems, a much appreciated service. The old water system could not supply enough drinking water for so many children and the fountains were often out of order, while the outdoor plumbing left much to be desired.

When the renovations and new wing were complete, the school was renamed. It became the Allan Johnstone School, named in honor of Hardisty's Mayor of long standing.

By 1960, the number of students had reached more than 250. The old Crickledale school was replaced with a modern portable classroom. Space was still a problem; also it was realized that a small school could not offer its high school students the variety of courses available at larger centers. Hardisty School joined the Killam School Division and in the fall of 1961; students in grades 10 to 12 were bused daily to Sedgewick Central High, a practice which continues today.

The Crickledale school, moved to another location, is now the Anglican Church Hall. The old two-room school was demolished several years ago to make more playground space available.