This article we’ll be looking at a small brick school house, a very photogenic one in fact, located in the tiny village of Netherhill Saskatchewan. Constructed just over a century ago, it’s been many, many decades since classes were last held here. More recently it was used as a fraternal organization hall, but for the last while it’s sat unused.
Built in the early 1910s, the school was only a couple years later doubled in size (or something close to doubled). Evidence of this “addition” is easily seen – notice the how the colours and textures of the bricks differ from side to side – on the back wall this contrast is most dramatic.
The structure is probably as solid as ever. Birds have been getting into it however and we know what sort of mess they make.
Initially all grades were taught here but later on it was for elementary students only. It was closed in the mid-1960s and not long after acquired by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) who used the building for meetings and to host community events and the like. Their iconic chain-link logo can still be seen above front door.
When it was last used by this group is not known. We talked with a couple locals (phone interviews after our visit) and while no one agreed on an exact date, all seemed to think it sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s era. Research is ongoing and if our readers know more, we’d love to hear from you.
Also above the entrance is a sign listing the school district (#2659) under which the facility operated and the township coordinates (S11, T29, R21). The structure sits at the centre of a field bordered by high hedges, a very pastoral setting today. One can easily imagine it a noisy chaotic place during recess, oh so long ago.
This author has found many images and postcards showing the Netherhill School over the years (mostly early on), including one when it was half its current size.
The Odd Fellows were founded almost two hundred years ago. With chapters all over the world, this benevolent organization works for the betterment of mankind (in EXTREMELY simplified terms), their motto being “Friendship. Love and Truth”.
We’ve heard the Odd Fellows referred to as a drinking club by many, but then I think many of these fraternal groups tend get branded as such. I’m sure the occasional libation was partaken of here at the old school.
Netherhill is located in western Saskatchewan. Off the main highway, few people stop in. Founded in the early 1910s when the Canadian Northern Railway came through (now Canadian National), today it’s home to a few dozen people. The main street is mostly empty save for an old hotel made into a residence.
We did a little walkabout the town, as we often do – it’s only a couple blocks square – and saw no one. The wind blew from time to time, but otherwise were met with total silence. It was in a way a bit weird and eerie.
In the early days it was much busier place. Netherhill had a happening downtown, old images show it, and a sense of hope and opportunity was clearly in the air. Now, like many small Saskatchewan towns, no small towns in ALL the prairie provinces, it seems to be dying a slow death – empty lots and overgrown sidewalks attest to that.
This same visit we shot a trademark BIGDoer.com then and now. You can see it here…
Netherhill Saskatchewan then and now.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: June, 2015.
Location: Netherhill, SK.
Article sources: Book: History of D’Arcy, Brock and Netherhill.
This site is on private property.