The End Of Clandonald School
With the last day of the 2020-2021 school year, the end of Clandonald School became a reality. Due to a combination of funding cuts from the province and a continual decline in enrollment, Buffalo Trail Public School announced in March that this past school year would be the last year of operation after over 100 years of education in the area.
First established as Wellsdale School in roughly 1910, Clandonald School Division came to be in 1928, with school being held in the Orange Hall. It was not until after the Depression that a building could be constructed, so during the 1930s students attended school at the convent on the south end of town. A new school was erected in 1940, and by 1956, four rooms were required to house all the students comfortably.
Meanwhile, the Clandonald Separate School was established in 1929. This school was housed in the convent and run by the Benedictine Sisters until 1932 when the Sisters of St. Joseph from Peterborough took over and added a boarding school. During the 1940s and ’50s, various stages of expansion were required to accommodate the growing number of students, and by 1960, several buildings had been built and added on to.
When the separate school division dissolved in 1969, and students from both divisions began attending school under the public umbrella in the same building, made up of the 1960 separate school and its 1965 addition.
In the 1980’s the north classroom became home to The Clandonald Friendship Club, and to the Clandonald Early Childhood Society, which provided kindergarten classes. In 1995, Clandonald School became part of the newly formed Buffalo Trail Regional Division No. 28, and remained a part of that division until this June.
Loretta Quickstad former student and staff member can vividly recall the May 17 fire in 2002. It, fortunately, was a non-instructional day, so no students were in the building, only staff. The staff could smell something burning and when Principal Terry Stachniak returned to the room, he told the staff to grab their important things and leave the building. Quickstad recalls it being a hot windy day, potential conditions for a fire to spread. Due to a fire on the Cusak land that morning, however, the local fire trucks were already loaded with water and ready to go, and in combination with a local farmer who had his water truck nearby, only the 1952 portion of the building was damaged. Clean-up was done quickly, and within a week, students were back on the west side of the building attending classes while the east end was renovated.
While the structures that housed Clandonald School over the past 100 years have changed, moved, been rebuilt, and demolished, the spirit of the school and the memories made by the students, families, and staff will always be a part of the community.