Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Ghost Town Where I Started School

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Canada, Saskatchewan

From Hatfield Saskatchewan – The Elevator Comes Down

Hatfield, Saskatchewan

I started school in a one room school in Hatfield, Saskatchewan.  One room. Eight grades. My class was the biggest grade.

There were three of us.

I grew up on a ‘ranch’,  three quarters of a mile from Hatfield.  Hatfield was a hamlet on the Canadian Pacific Railroad  (CPR) line about 80 miles north of Regina.

My earliest memories of Hatfield included the school, an elevator and a couple of houses.  Mom said the post office was still there when I started school.  I don’t remember but it isn’t the kind of thing that would likely be on my radar at that age.

Our school was Cuthbert School District.   Every little school in rural Saskatchewan was a school district.

I attended Cuthbert for three years (Grades 1,2 and 3) until they bussed us off to the nearby town of Nokomis, six miles north to continue our schooling. This would have been the fall of 1962.

View Map

Hatfield continued as a hamlet for a few years after the school closed, then the elevator was pulled down (Winter of 1967?) .  The elevator coming down often signals the death of these little hamlets or villages.

I guess that is when Hatfield became “a ghost town” or close to it.   There were only two families living there at the time, the Scott and the Lakness families.

I’ve looked for more information about Hatfield at the Saskatchewan Archives (Regina) and while I did find the school district records I couldn’t find information on when Hatfield came to be.

Imagine my delight,  when I recently discovered a book called “Saskatchewan Ghost Towns” by Frank Moore.  I came across this book in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Published in 1982, this slim volume contained information about Hatfield.  It didn’t say much but it gave me more history than I had previously.

  • Hatfield was founded in 1907 with the advent of the CPR.  At that time the nearby communities of Govan and Nokomis were fast-growing villages.
  • The CPR section house was the first and only building in the community for the first five years.  The grain elevator was built in 1914 by Home Grain Co.
  • In 1914, a man named Welch built his family a two story dwelling that served as a store and post office, as well as their home.
  • It wasn’t until 1940 that a school, teacherage; community hall and a small residence were constructed.
  • By 1950, the residents of Hatfield began moving away.   Eventually, even the community hall closed and the run-down grain elevator was demolished.

I still don’t know how Hatfield got its name.  I presume someone on the CPR railroad named the hamlet.  If anyone knows please comment below.

===> The book Ghost Towns of Saskatchewan is available on line.

There are more photos of the Elevator coming down – The photographer is believed to be Leland Greenfield.

If anyone has a picture of Cuthbert School please leave a comment below.  I’m looking for a photo of my first school.

UPDATE:  How Hatfield got its name:

Location: SE27-28-22-W2.

Hatfield  is a former CP Siding (PO 1914-62) just south of Nokomis close to the junction of highways #15 and #20 .  Named after Hatfield and Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, north of London, England.  The name is Old English for “open land where heather grows.”

Source: “People Places: The Dictionary of Saskatchewan Place Names” by Bill Barry

(Thanks to Xenia for the suggestion and thanks to my sis for the look up.  She collects books like this.)




Comments

8 Responses to “The Ghost Town Where I Started School”
  1. JenS says:

    I feel like I should be able to answer your question about how Hatfield got its name since I work in the CPR library. If no one else has an answer and you don’t mind waiting a few more weeks, I’ll take a look and see if I can find anything in our stacks. (I go back to work a month tomorrow – mat leave is over!) Chances are very good it was named after someone or something CPR-related. The first president of the company – Sir George Stephen – apparently died in Hatfield, England in 1921. Depending on whether they named it in 1907 or later it could have some connection to him – or even just to the town in England.
    Jen
    JenS´s last [type] ..SNGF – Go for a better Google search

  2. Hi Jen,
    I’d be delighted if you could look up how Hatfield got its name! How fortunate you work in the CPR library. No rush on this at all.

    Thanks for offering and thanks for visiting!

    –Joan

  3. Xenia says:

    Hi Joan,

    There is a book “People Places: The Dictionary of Saskatchewan Place Names” by Bill Barry that may have the origin of the name.

    Xenia

  4. Xenia says:

    Hi Joan,

    I just remembered another resource that might have information for you. Many communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan compiled a heritage book. It was in the one for Rocky Mountain House that I found the background on my first school, one-room school called Taimi. It gave dates and information not found elsewhere. Even if there is not a book on Hatfield (probably not), look for one in the region.

    Xenia

  5. Hi Xenia,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I believe I’ve looked in the Saskatchewan Place Name book years ago but will take another look. It is a good idea to look at the local history books. Hatfield is kind of out there in the middle of nowhere so I hope it got a mention. I also have photos of the school district records I collected at the Sask Archives. I need to revisit them.

    Thanks again,
    Joan

  6. Bob Grocholski says:

    Just read all about Hatfield again and always find it interesting to learn about another location in Sask. As i am working on my post marks collection of now forgotten or closed post offices I notice that Hatfield is not in my collection. If anyone out there has an old envelope with a Hatfield cancel on it I would be forever grateful to get one. I have lots of extra other closed post offices and would be interested in exchanging or gifting some.

  7. Karen Lee says:

    Can you send a family history of your family that lived in
    the area oNokomis and hatfield to the
    Nokomis District Museun
    Box 417
    Nokomis Sask
    S0G3R0

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