Normal School

The Saskatchewan Normal School was a publicly funded provincial post-secondary institution for the training of teachers. Such training began in Regina as early as 1890 with short courses for men and women who had completed Grade 8 and who sought certification to teach elementary school subjects, often in one-room schools in rural Saskatchewan. The term “normal school” is derived from the French é cole Normale, an institution that provided instruction in the “norms” of school instruction. The term was first adopted by training institutions in eastern Canada in the mid-19th century. The first permanent home for teacher training in the province was built in 1913 at the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue (originally 16th Avenue). Designed in the collegiate-Gothic style, the first classes were held there in January 1914 and the building was fully completed in 1915. To meet the growing demand for teachers as the population of Saskatchewan grew dramatically after World War I, normal schools were also opened in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw in the 1920s. These three normal schools trained thousands of teachers until 1940, when the Regina and Saskatoon buildings were taken over by the Royal Canadian Air Force to accommodate military training.

After World War II teacher training resumed in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but was discontinued in Regina because of declining enrolment. The building in Regina housed various government departments until 1959, when teacher training moved again, this time from Moose Jaw to Regina. Regina College, the Normal School’s neighbour on College Avenue, became a part of the University of Saskatchewan in 1961. In 1964, the Regina and Saskatoon Teachers Colleges, as the normal schools were then called, were transferred to the University of Saskatchewan. The Regina Teachers College became the nucleus of the Faculty of Education for what became the University of Regina. With the completion of the Education Building on the University of Regina campus in 1969, the Normal School Building became the home of the Faculty of Fine Arts and served as such until the mid-1990s, when that faculty moved on campus to what is now the Dr. William Riddell Centre. The Normal School building was internally gutted and, with its historical façade intact, officially opened in 2002 as the Canada-Saskatchewan Production Studios, a state-of-the art sound stage for the emerging Saskatchewan Film Industry. The Normal School represents what has been referred to as the “golden age” of schools in Regina; it remains a symbol of the optimism at the beginning of the 20th century, when Regina became the commercial and educational centre of “the bread basket of the world.”

James McNinch, Mark Vajcner