In 1997, Ranch Ehrlo Society’s Buckland campus, located just outside the city of Prince Albert, officially opened. But the idea, and the need, for a northern campus had been around long before.
As far back as the early ‘70s, the agency felt the need for a presence closer to our client base in northern Saskatchewan. Twice, attempts were made to establish what would one day become the Buckland campus – in 1974, financial commitments were finalized but the progress on the program was halted, mainly due to staffing concerns; and in 1984, government support for the campus was pulled after concerns from citizens in the area.
In 1997, the dream was finally realized with the opening of the Buckland campus under the direction of Susan Luedtke. The first clients lived in Flegal House, a pre-existing home on the property. Alex Guy House, the first new group home to be built on the campus, was officially opened the following year.
In 2001, Klassen House – the second home on the campus – was opened. Three years later, in 2004, Ranch Ehrlo expanded its’ presence in the area with the construction and opening of Matheson House, the only group home located within in the city of Prince Albert. This was made easier by the community programs already being run out of the Buckland campus, such as the OHL – a spin-off of the hugely popular league being run in Regina by Ehrlo Sport Venture.
In April of 2007, Randy O’Shaughnessy became the director of residential treatment for the northern programs. He stayed in the role until September 2011.
“I believe the campus is necessary for a few different reasons,” he said. “The opportunity to provide a treatment-based environment in a similar environment to (northern client’s) home environments, is extremely advantageous. The learning opportunities for the client and the staff are increased,” he said.
“From another point of view, I think that having a northern campus is one of the things that differentiates us, or did at the point that it was developed, from other facilities – we have a variety of locations that had a consistent, congruent philosophy base but different environments.”
The northern campus is unique in many ways. Like all our campuses, it is out of town a ways – but northern Saskatchewan provides a unique wilderness backdrop.
“Our property in Buckland is in at the edge of a national forest – so if a youth was having a problem, I’d say, ‘let’s go for a walk’. And within two minutes, you’re walking in the heart of a deep forest. It’s very calming for the kids – particularly the kids from the North, because it’s similar to what they know,” Randy said.
Keep an eye on our website for more stories about our Buckland campus as we celebrate 20 years of going forward with pride in northern Saskatchewan, and join us on September 19th from 3 – 5 p.m. as we celebrate with a barbeque at the campus!