An “almost” ghost town, Lemsford Saskatchewan is located in the western part of that province and is home to a little brick schoolhouse, a nice one too, that’s sadly seen better days. Long since closed as learning facility, it was later used for grain storage (as strange as that seems) but today is abandoned. It’s deteriorating badly and one wall has started to collapse. Time is ticking for this photogenic old building.
Lemsford was founded in the early 1910s, with the coming of the railway, although settlers had lived in the area before. Never growing beyond village status, the community today has a population that could be counted on one hand, two at most. There appears to be three or so houses in the town that looked lived in.
Mention is made of a school district being established here in 1912. The building we’re looking at dates from the mid-1920s however and replaced an earlier structure that burned down not long before. This author has seen a photo showing the older school which was made of brick and was two stories in height. Nothing else is known about it.
At one time a teacherage, a home, naturally, for the teacher assigned to the school, was located on the grounds. A local resident seems to think it was last used in the 1940s and torn down not long after.
A history book used in researching this post seems to suggest that the school was closed in the 1960s. It’s not said explicitly, but rather hinted at. That seems to make sense given the town by that time was on the decline. Students were later bused to a school in another town, nearby Scepter Saskatchewan, it’s believed.
It’s not exactly clear how long the school sat empty before being purchased by some local farmers, the Kost Brothers, who’s yellow sign still adorns the entryway. They converted it to a grainery and it’s believed added that lean-too addition on the north side, presumably to store farm equipment, around that time. A photo from about ten years ago shows other farm sheds and outbuildings located near the school, all of which are gone now.
To convert it to grain storage, they cut out the majority of the main floor and built two wood-cribbed boxes extending down into the basement, which held the grain. A strange way to reuse the building, indeed, but I guess it worked. When it was last used in this capacity it not know, but given the deteriorated state of the building (more on this in a moment), it must have been many, many years ago.
There were two classrooms in the school and a basement which likely housed the coal stove used to heat the building during those cold Saskatchewan winters.
The east wall of the building is collapsing. That old photo mentioned earlier shows it buckled but still mostly intact. Now there is a gaping hole. When venturing inside, we took extra precautions because of this. We did not go into the basement, given the stairs looked a little too rickety. That part of the building looked empty (and dark and scary) anyway.
The school’s interior was painted a lovely light green shade. Retro-cool. Save for the always present pigeon poop – if a building is open to the elements, as this one is, those birds will always get in – and a few old bed frames, there was not much found inside.
Outside an old underground cistern was found in the grass. It was closed up tight and was obvious and presented no real danger but occasionally when exploring old buildings we find these, or old water wells, open to the air, which could mean big trouble if one were to fall in. Always take care when out exploring especially in areas near buildings where cisterns are apt to be, and doubly so if the grass is tall and covers much resulting in dangers that could be hidden.
The school grounds were surrounded by a large hedge on three sides. The prairies stretch off in behind the building, with no other man made structures to be seen all the way to the horizon, giving this lonely middle-of-nowhere feel to the place. Washroom facilities would have included biffies located somewhere on the land. That’s how they did it in the old days, be it a nice day or a raging snow storm.
The Lemsford School was visited on our spring 2014 “grain elevators and ghosts tour” of southwest Saskatchewan. What a great time that was! We visited so many old and interesting places that almost a year later, we’re still talking about them. And there will me more from this adventure yet to come.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2014.
Location: Lemsford, SK.
Article sources: Book: The Past to the Present – 70 years, 1909-1979 (Lemsford and area history guide), a town resident.
Give the dangers, it’s suggested you not visit here.