Elkhorn’s residential school bell restored

After spending 30 years “in the weeds”, a historic bell has been restored and given a place of honour in Elkhorn.

The bell once hung in the belfry high above the Elkhorn Indian Industrial School, as it was then called.

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It would have summoned children to class, meals, and prayers until the school was closed by the government in 1949 and torn down a few years later.

Lynn Tutthill of the Elkhorn Restoration Club says the bell was saved from demolition and sent to the residential school in Prince Albert, Sask.

It eventually came back to Elkhorn and spent about thirty years outside in the museum yard waiting to be rescued a second time.

“I always knew where it was. We decided to fix the bell for the 50th anniversary of the Antique Auto Museum in 2016.

“It should have been done years ago,” says Tutthill.

Many hands

Except for some rust, the cast iron bell was in good condition when pulled from the weeds. Tutthill and the Restoration Club organized its refurbishing.

Prairie Blasting cleaned and painted it. Gerry Lund of Elkhorn made the ornamental ironwork supporting it. Vicki Tutthill did the artwork that adorns the plaque.

Many hands were involved in saving this storied relic of local history.

The bell now has pride of place, mounted above a stone cairn at the entrance to the Antique Auto Museum.

The school

Tutthill Construction now sits where the residential school once dominated the landscape.

First Nations children aged three to 18 from across the region lived and were educated there.

The school employed many Elkhorn community members, including Lynn Tutthill’s grandparents and mother.

The last graduation was held in June 1949. The building itself was only about 50 years old when torn down.

The plaque below the restored bell reads:

“This school bell is dedicated to all staff, teachers and students who attended the Elkhorn Indian Industrial School. The Washakada Home was built in 1888 on Railway Ave. In 1895, it was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt on SE 4-12-28 and renamed Elkhorn Indian Industrial School. In 1924, the school was renamed the Anglican Indian Residential School. In June 1949, the school was closed. Demolition took place in 1951.”

 

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