From humble beginnings

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division first began operations in 1887, with a single log-cabin school near the North Saskatchewan River. On Saturday, current and former students, teachers, support staff and administrators gathered to celebrate that history. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

In 1887, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division began as a single log cabin schoolhouse in the vast District of Prince Albert.

Today, it encompasses eight different schools and roughly 3,200 students.

On Saturday, current and former teachers, students and trustees gathered at St. Mary High School to honour that achievement, as the division celebrated its 130th anniversary in the city.

“Through those years there’s been a lot of trials and tribulations, and we’ve had some obstacles along the way, but I’m very proud to say that we’re a still a strong organization,” current school board chair George Bolduc said.

Although Father Alexis Andre established Prince Albert’s first Catholic school in 1883, the actual school division didn’t take shape until four years later.

Originally dubbed “Catholic Separate School Division No. 6 of the North-West Territories,” the new school system received its first students nearly two decades before Saskatchewan joined confederation, making it the oldest school division in the province.

“From the humble beginnings of a rustic little shack on the riverbank to where we are now, it’s just amazing,” said Bolduc, who has served on the school board for roughly 20 years.

Bolduc and others in attendance were quick to credit the teachers and support staff for the success of Catholic education in Prince Albert.

Current trustee Maurice Chalifour first joined the division as a Grade 6 teacher at Ecole St. Anne School in 1970. He said it quickly became apparent that he was joining a high quality organization.

For the rest of this story, please see the May 16 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.