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In the years immediately before World War I, the economic boom attracted people from across Canada to Alberta. According to historian Dorothy Field, one consequence of the population explosion was a lack of schools for all the children who came along.
There hadn't been sufficient planning for this eventuality, so all of a sudden it was necessary to build a large number of schoolrooms, and cottage schools were the result
They were called cottage schools because they were intended to be small and temporary, much like a summer cottage.
And they were of light wood construction, and generally had the air about them of being somewhat rustic. They were two stories with, generally, a porch across the front, one or two classrooms on each floor and a hip roof. They were quite small and actually looked more like a house than a school.
The cottage schools were only intended to be used until something more substantial could be built to replace them. But some took on a life of their own, and still survive. One is the cottage school in North Red Deer.
The cottage school in North Red Deer was built in 1911 and opened in February 1912. It had 32 pupils and had been designed by a local architect, Julian Sharmon, who is also responsible for a number of other buildings in Red Deer.
It was not until the 1930s that electricity was installed in the school, and in the 1950s, it was finally hooked up to running water. It continued to be used as an auxiliary classroom space until the 1960s.
The cottage school of North Red Deer is now a registered historic resource and was restored by the 75th Anniversary Committee of North Red Deer.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.