Prince Albert Residential School — Saskatchewan

P75-103-S7-292

The Prince Albert Indian Residential School was founded within months of the fire that destroyed the All Saints School at Lac La Ronge, February 2nd, 1947. At the outset, the new school served as the replacement for the Lac La Ronge School, only relocated 200 km south to Prince Albert. The new school’s name remained unchanged—“All Saints School – Lac La Ronge.” However, this moniker led to confusion and the alternate name, Prince Albert Indian Residential School, was officially adopted in 1953. By this time, the nearby St. Alban’s Residential School had closed and had amalgamated (1951) with “All Saints.”

St. Alban’s was itself a replacement school for St. Barnabas Indian Residential School at Onion Lake, which had burnt down December 1st, 1943. Wartime shortages of materials and labour may have contributed to a decision not to rebuild at Onion Lake. A church owned building in Prince Albert, formerly a private college, was available and required minimal renovations to accommodate staff and about 100 students from St. Barnabas School. It was occupied in 1944. Shortly after 1948, St. Alban’s became a school for Indian girls only, as its male students were transferred to the new “All Saints” school, just opened in Prince Albert.

Prince-Albert-map_000Unlike most of the Anglican residential schools, the new Prince Albert School was not purpose-built. In the rush to seek facilities for the displaced Lac La Ronge staff and students, Indian Affairs quickly secured the use of part of an army base on the western outskirts of Prince Albert. The barracks of the No. 122 Basic Training Centre were deemed to be acceptable, but not ideal.

As this was the only surviving Anglican administered school in Saskatchewan, students were drawn from a wide area in central Saskatchewan and north-western Manitoba. In the 1960s, about 70% of the children came from the Carlton Indian Agency area which included the old reserves at Montreal Lake, Lac La Ronge, Stanley Mission, Shoal Lake and Red Earth. Enrolment grew from 100 in 1948 to almost 400 by the mid-1960s, as former military buildings were remodelled and new dormitory cottages constructed. It was the largest such school operated by the Church in Canada.

On April 1st, 1969, the government took over the Prince Albert School, which had been operated by the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada (MSCC). Ottawa continued to administer the residential school for many years, with increasing involvement by the local Wahpeton Band and the Prince Albert Grand Council in matters of hiring, educational programming and building improvements. A 1982 Order in Council transferred title to the school lands from the Crown to the Opawakoscikan Indian Reserve (Peter Ballantyne Band). The Prince Albert Indian Student Education Centre (its final official name) closed in 1996.

Milestones

  • 1948: Sept. “All Saints School – Lac La Ronge” officially opens in the West Hill district of Prince Albert, occupying part of a former military base. Instruction is given in primary school up to grade 8. Native schoolboys are accepted from St. Alban’s Indian Residential School in Prince Albert, which continues as a school for young Indian girls, with authorized pupilage of 125. Senior girls are gradually transferred to the All Saints School
  • 1949-1951. 1950s Growing number of students from All Saints attend Prince Albert Collegiate.
  • 1951: St. Alban’s School closes due to poor condition of building and being a fire hazard. Remaining student body transferred to All Saints School, which continues to expand as former army huts are renovated for school dormitory use. Enrolment after amalgamation is 165.
  • 1953: New name adopted—Prince Albert Indian Residential School. Former name, “All Saints,” continues to be used informally.
  • 1962: All high school and grade 7 and 8 students attend municipal schools in Prince Albert.
  • 1964: Construction commences on the first of eight new cottage-type dormitories, each intended to accommodate 24 children, boys and girls ages six to sixteen years, in family units under the guidance of live-in young married families.
  • 1964: All grade 11 and 12 students are boarded out in city homes.
  • 1968: Enrolment is 377, of which 352 are attending 14 city schools ranging from grades 1 to 9. Two residential classrooms remain, for the Beginners and the Opportunity classes.
  • 1969 Apr. 1: Government assumes operation of school and renames it Prince Albert Student Residence.
  • 1996: Student Residence closes and western part of site is soon cleared to make way for a municipal health centre. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation uses remaining property for band offices and community social services, occupying some of the former dormitory cottages.

Compiled by General Synod Archives, September 23, 2008.