Saskatchewan Training School
|Saskatchewan Training School|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
|Architect(s)||H. K. Black|
|Location||Moose Jaw, SK|
The Saskatchewan Provincial Training School for people with intellectual disabilities officially opened in 1955. It was originally intended to help residents become community-integrated, although the nature of the institution changed over time. Currently known as the Valley View Centre, the institution is set to close by 2016.
The Saskatchewan Training School was established after Premier Tommy Douglas asked Dr. Clarence Hincks to investigate the state of Saskatchewan Mental Hospitals (one at Weyburn, and one in North Battleford). The result of this investigation was Hincks' recommendation to downsize patient population in hospitals, and to develop community-based services. The building of the school was recommended in 1946 by McKerracher (following Hincks’ 1945 report, which first stated the same). This led to the decision to build an entire school dedicated to teaching mentally handicapped children, allowing them to gain some level of autonomy in society. However, it was not until 1949 the building plans approved, 1949-1950 contracts were awarded, and late 1950 the ground broken. Still, the school did not “officially” open until 1955
H. K. Black was hired as an architect for the school, which would be built in Moose Jaw, SK. The school was designed to be self-sufficient, and included ten cottages for patients, six cottages for staff, a hospital and administration building, a low-grade unit, school, and recreation building, a kitchen and dining room, a laundry building, a heating plant and storage house, a garage, and water control and sewage pump house units. This institution officially launched in 1955, but two years later, it was already at full capacity with 1,100 patients and a waiting list of 500 more. The school was expanded as a result.
The aims of the school shifted in the 1960s, when the community and government pressured the STS to accept long-term patients. As with many institutions, the STS had a large community impact - it was the second largest industry in Moose Jaw (after the air base) by the 1960s. However, the school came under criticism by the late 1960s for not integrating members into the community anymore - 125 residents were left with nowhere to go due to community intolerance.
In 1973, the school was renamed the Valley View Centre, and it attempted to return to its roots or integrating handicapped people into the community, only at an earlier age. Although more money was put into training staff into working with residents, the facility remained overcrowded, understaffed, and it failed to meet standards of the time. The institution caught fire in 1977, but was rebuilt in 1981 due to continued need of facilities.
The population of the institution diminished by the 1980s, and in 2010, only 230 residents remained. The facility is projected to close by 2016.