The Ghost Town Where I Started School
|From Hatfield Saskatchewan – The Elevator Comes Down|
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.
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:
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.)