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Home About Us Development of Cumberland Community College: The Early Years

About Us

Home About Us Development of Cumberland Community College: The Early Years

About Us


The Early Years: 1975-1980

The success of the pilot community college projects encouraged the Department of Continuing Education to expand the project, with the result that the whole province embraced the college system. Formation of this community college began in the summer of 1974. Mrs. Mickey MacLennan was hired to develop a northeast Saskatchewan community college. Shortly after, Vern Bachiu was hired as an assistant to Mrs. MacLennan. They began by organizing an advisory committee of Northeast residents. From this Advisory Committee and other community contacts, a Board of Directors was selected. The first Board of Directors of Cumberland (then known as Northeast) Community College was approved by Order in Council #34/75 on January 14, 1975. The Board of Directors held their first meeting the very next evening, January 15, 1975.

CC The Early Years Scaled

In April, 1975...

Mr. Elias Nesdoly was appointed principal. Mr. Art Karras was appointed Secretary-Treasurer of the community college the following month. By June of 1975 , there were 2 other staff members working out of the Nipawin office, a Program Coordinator, Susan Weber, and a Clerk-Stenographer, Colleen Meyer. A second Program Coordinator, Rilla Edwards was working out of the Melfort office. During the spring of 1975, the college held a public contest ("Here’s Your Chance to WIN $25.00!) to determine a Cumberland Community College logo. The awards for the prize-winning entries in the contest went to James Weseen of Star City and Bruce Dawson of Nipawin. James Weseen presented the idea of using the three C’s and Bruce Dawson’s sketch showed a person paddling a canoe. Mrs. Kay Dobrowski, a member of the College Board, recommended to the Board that these two ideas be incorporated into one logo. The College Board accepted this recommendation and the final result is shown on the cover of this booklet. Bruce Dawson, in submitting his entry of the canoeist stated, "The waterways and woodlands are part of our heritage. In this region, Indians and European trappers and traders used canoes for travel for centuries. The canoe represents the College itself, providing opportunities in the rivers, the currents of life." Adult learning requests and community participation expanded throughout 1975 as did the volume of courses provided throughout the region. The first courses to be held in the region were between February and June, 1975. One hundred eighty-three adult learners took part in 11 courses during these first 5 months of programming. The first shared, cost program sponsored by Canada Manpower was held in Melfort for "Visiting Homemakers" with 8 participants.

The first full slate of courses was offered in the fall of 1975.

There were 3 main types of courses:

Social Demand

These were meant to improve skills in hobby or special interest areas.


The scope of courses offered ranged from grade 1 to University credits.

Occupational Improvement

The purpose was to improve a person’s work skills so they may advance or find new employment.

The social demand courses ranged from beadwork and bookkeeping to barbershop singing. The most popular course of 1975-76 was "Re-upholstery" with a total of 338 participants throughout the region signing up!! Other popular courses throughout the ‘70’s included "Hair Care and Styling", "Sewing with Jean Cloth", "Chinese Cooking", "Macrame", "Metrics", and "Old Time Dancing". Of course in the spirit of the ’70’s, the price was right with the going rate being 50 cents per hour for tuition! Senior citizens could attend for free. Participation rates at this time reached 6,032 adults enrolled in 443 courses. Staff grew as the number of courses grew and by September of 1978 there were 14 full and part-time staff members. Because of the decentralized model of education that was followed, the coordination of courses in the early years was done with the help of local contact committees. By 1978, there were 51 Local Contact Committees (made up of 203 volunteers) throughout the Region with courses being held in 52 communities. Volunteerism was alive and well in Saskatchewan! The College had its official opening of its main office in Nipawin in June of 1976. A branch of the College was located in Melfort. These offices were full-time year round operations. Two additional branch offices were located in Hudson Bay (September, 1976) and Tisdale (January, 1977) on a part-time basis.

Memories of Facilities

The very first administrative office in Nipawin being in the Nipawin Journal building, where the office consisted of a table-sized room.

Beth Goertzen teaching upgrading on Main Street, Carrot River in a store-front location, where the mid-morning entertainment on the street by passerbys was lining up to watch the action inside. Later, Beth taught in a house where the classrooms consisted of a living room and 2 bedrooms and resources were kept on mason jar storage cupboards.

Hudson Bay office was located in the front of an old meat locker plant on Main Street.

Tisdale’s office was in the little building beside the Falkon Theatre.

Administrative offices with no classrooms; classrooms were in church basements, schools, peoples’ houses.

Melfort’s administrative office was first located at 101 Burrows Avenue