BRESAYLOR — Your grandparents or great-grandparents may have recalled a time when they walked four miles to school, barefoot and uphill both ways. This may have been somewhat exaggerated, as many children rode horseback or drove a wagon to school. There was usually a barn at the school where the horses were kept during the day. One teacher would teach Grades 1 to 8, all in the same classroom.
The first school in the Bresaylor settlement was built in 1883. It operated until the North West Resistance started in 1885 and it was burned down.
In 1883 or 1884, several French-speaking Roman Catholics joined the settlement and Father Cochin moved from Poundmaker’s reserve to live among them. They built a little church that was probably used as a school as well.
In 1888, the Bresaylor Protestant Public School District No. 111 was formed and a second school was built with 30 students attending. This school district was a square township, which became impractical as it included land north of the North Saskatchewan River. A third school was built one mile south and the second school closed. This new school was more central for all students south of the river.
The handwritten paper Little Joker, published in 1888, commented “they know how to do business there. Each family gives so many logs each and then have a sort of bee to put them together to keep costs down.” The government paid half the teacher’s salary; the rest was made up by local school taxes.
In 1889, Father Cochin settled on land just west of what was then Thunderchild reserve and east of the Bresaylor settlement A rectory was built which also served as a school. Some Bresaylor children may have attended school there.
In 1896, two acres of land was purchased across the road from the site of the Protestant school, as the school was on CPR land. The school was moved across the road, and an addition was added, doubling its size.
Bresaylor became a hamlet in 1905 with the coming of the railroad. The boundary between Bresaylor School District No. 111 and Arbour Hill School District to the west ran north and south adjacent to Bresaylor, so students from the hamlet went to either school.
In 1918, the hamlet had 18 children and residents proposed that a new school district be created by taking part of Bresaylor School District No. 111 and Arbour Hill School District territory, giving them 30 children in the new district. On April of that year a meeting was held between Arbour Hill School District, Bresaylor School District and the RMs of Paynton and Battle River. An agreement was reached to set up a new school district. The Federal grain elevator agent donated two acres of land for the new school and the district became known as Federal School District No. 4048. In the fall, school was started in Leslie’s Pool Hall and in 1919 classes were moved to the newly built school.
The highest attendance at the Federal school was 48 students. Grades 9 and 10 were taken by correspondence under the supervision of the teacher. For Grades 11 and 12, students would have to board in Battleford and go to school there.
By 1940, enrolment was only 10 students. In 1946, the school district applied to amalgamate with the Battleford School District. The school was closed in 1958 and the students were bused to Paynton.
The Bresaylor Heritage Museum is open again for the summer by appointment only until Aug. 31. Please phone Enola at 306-893-8002 or Bob at 306-895-2075 to arrange a guided tour by one of our volunteer staff. Check out the Bresaylor Heritage Museum Facebook page for more information.