Walker School Complex
Old Walker School
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Walker School is comprised of two school buildings that have been joined together. The first portion, the Walker School, is a two-and-a-half storey, wood frame building clad in clapboard with a hipped roof and a modest belfry. A classically-inspired front entrance featuring decorative wooden pilasters and a pediment is centrally located on the south elevation. Attached to the north side of the Walker school is the former Hilliard School, which was moved onto the site in 1971. This two-and-a-half storey wood frame building has a clipped gable roof and is clad in stucco. Rows of ganged windows dominate the east and west elevations of both buildings. The school is located on 52 Avenue near the intersection with 48 Street in the Town of Bruderheim.
The heritage value of the Walker School in Bruderheim lies chiefly in its architectural significance as a fine example of early twentieth-century rural school design in Alberta. The addition of the Hilliard School also gives the site significance as a representation of the trend towards consolidation of rural schools which was required by changing rural demographics.
During the early twentieth century, the four-room school house was a common arrangement of space for schools being built in Alberta that required larger facilities than the traditional one-room school house could allow. The provincial government provided support to school districts through matching funds for construction, and by providing architectural plans. Consequently, identical or very similar schools were built throughout the province. The Provincial Archives of Alberta has plans for four-room schoolhouses for 69 school districts, dating from 1913 through to 1964. In 1928, the Edmonton architectural firm of MacDonald and Magoon designed the Walker school for the Bruderheim School District No. 1705. It is a typical variation on the four-room plan. Built the following year, the school marked a significant advancement over the pioneer schools built previously by the Moravian settlers in the region. Separate boys' and girls' playrooms were located downstairs while classrooms, a common Science room and a staff area were located upstairs. In this way the Walker School serves as a strong example of typical school design in Alberta.
As the population of rural areas grew it became necessary to establish schools in order to educate the children of the province's settlers. Area residents typically organized themselves and requested that school districts be established. Although small in size, these school districts were able to use local taxation to raise funds for the construction and maintenance of a school and for paying a teacher's salary. Thousands of school districts, most with one-room schools, were established across Alberta. The Hilliard School District No. 3546 was established in October 1917 and a small school was constructed the following year. This school was replaced in 1941 with a two room school. While the small school districts served Alberta well during the pioneering period, by the 1930s it was apparent that changes were necessary and the province began a program of reorganizing the myriad of school districts into larger school divisions. This consolidation was undertaken to deal with falling school enrollments caused by rural depopulation. It was also hoped that consolidation would enable districts to combine resources and provide children with a better educational opportunities. In October 1937, the Hilliard School District and 54 neighbouring school districts were combined to form the Lamont School Division, No. 18. However, enrollments at the Hilliard school continued to fall. The school was closed in 1964 and Hilliard students were bussed to larger schools in nearby Chipman and Mundare. In 1971, the Hilliard school building was relocated approximately 36 kilometres west to the town of Bruderheim, where it was attached to the existing Walker School in order to address the need for more classroom space in that community.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Services, Historic Resource Management Branch (File: Des. 1706)
The character-defining elements of the Walker School include such features as:
Walker School Portion
- size, form, massing;
- interior layout and floor plan;
- exterior finished with bevel clapboard;
- hipped roof;
- cupola with pyramidal roof and louvered sides;
- classically-inspired central front entry, featuring decorative wooden pilasters and a pediment;
- lath and plaster walls, with chair and picture rails and wood trim at the doors, windows and stairwells;
- banks of large, multi-paned wood windows on the east and west elevations;
- skylight in central hall (Science Room).
Hilliard School Portion
- size, form and massing;
- location attached to the north side of the Walker school;
- exterior finished with grey stucco;
- jerkinhead or clipped gable roof;
- shed-roofed entryway on the north west corner leading to the basement;
- banks of large, wooden multi-paned windows on the east and west elevations;
- extant original fir flooring.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Primary or Secondary School
Architect / Designer
MacDonald and Magoon
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Services, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1706)
Cross-Reference to Collection