A History of Duclos School, Bonnyville, Alberta
Celebrating the Duclos School Centennial 1916-2016
In 1916 the Reverend John E. Duclos came to Bonnyville to answer the call by some of the French Canadian families in the area to establish a French Presbyterian Church. After deciding to stay in the area Reverend Duclos considered all the activities that were awaiting his efforts as he set out to support families in the area. He divided his projects into three departments as he established a mission in the Bonnyville area: the church, the hospital, and the school.
In the early years after the start of the mission in 1916, Rev. Duclos and his wife set up evening classes for young people in the first hospital building. From 1920 to 1928 students were set up in residences in Edmonton where they attended Edmonton public schools. This arrangement worked well, but it was not a perfect solution as children were separated from their parents for long periods of time. In 1928 the first Duclos School was built on the site of the Duclos Mission. The mission would include the school, boys' and girls' residences, as well as a hospital and church. Buildings from this period remain standing and in use. The Duclos Mission was located south of the Neighborhood Inn on 66th Street in west Bonnyville. The school and residences for rural students would remain in use for close to 30 years. The Duclos School teacher from the opening in 1928 and for 20 years following was Mr. Henri E. Bourgoin. Later a school in Bonnyville would be named after Mr. Bourgoin, now known as H.E. Bourgoin Middle School.
As school buses became more common and the town and surrounding rural area began to grow, Duclos School merged with the Bonnyville school division and a new Duclos school was built in town. The first section of a new Duclos School was completed in 1954 and was located on the site of the current school on 52nd Avenue. The new building saw several additions over the years, with the original west wing expanding to include an east wing and a gym in 1958 and 1959. More classrooms were added to the north end of the building in 1964. From the 1950's and continuing until the end of the 1960's Duclos was a grade one to twelve school, graduating many students over the years. Later when Bonnyville Centralized High School was built in the early 1970's Duclos would continue as a kindergarten to grade nine school.
As the population continued to grow there was a need for a new building to be added. The new building was completed in 1993 and was attached to the east end of the old Duclos School. This modern addition continued to serve kindergarten to grade nine students until 1995 when Duclos became an elementary school serving students from kindergarten to grade four. A new addition to the school was completed in 2002 adding a kindergarten wing with five classrooms at the east end of the main building.
The next big change in the life of Duclos School happened during the summer of 2011. The west wing of the 1954 portion of the school along with the old gym was demolished. The old school was an important part of Duclos and Bonnyville history for almost 60 years. Also over the summer of 2011, the east wing of the old school was restored and given an impressive face lift, both inside and out. This section of the old building will live on as a part of the main Duclos building and will be home to our grade four students as well as offering additional space for students and programs as the school continues to grow. As part of the modernization the grounds were landscaped and a parent drive through lane for picking up children was added.
Duclos offers pre-school programs for children ages three and four along with kindergarten to grade four programming for well over 500 students. Duclos has an out of school care program for students needing care before and after school.
Duclos has a long and wonderful history in the Bonnyville community and is proud of educating students for over 100 years. The Duclos Homecoming Weekend was held on July 30-31, 2016.
“Through the Generations: A Community of Learners; A Community of Leaders”
The Old Duclos School is partly Demolished, Renovated and Modernized 2010-2011.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the old 1950’s-1960’s portions of Duclos School underwent a decommissioning, to be followed by demolition of the 1950’s original west wing and the old gymnasium. During the summer of 2011 the old building was demolished and hauled away. Some pictures are shown here. The 1960’s wing of the school was renovated with a complete makeover of the electrical, plumbing, heating, lighting and the interior was refurbished. The wing was modernized and fully integrated into the rest of the building. The technology was brought up to date. The exterior of the building was redone; beautifully merging the old and the new, and with landscaping that created a green space, treed area and additional parking for parents and a drive through lane for dropping off students.