Roots of Luther College in Regina

By Dale Johnson Posted: July 12, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Luther College was dedicated one year after the cornerstone was laid on July 12, 1925
Luther College was dedicated one year after the cornerstone was laid on July 12, 1925 (Photo courtesy of Luther College).

It was 90 years ago today – on Sunday, July 12, 1925 – that the cornerstone was laid for Luther College on Dewdney Ave.

Luther College had opened in Melville in 1913 as the Luther Academy. Within a few years, there were several reasons why leaving Melville made sense. Melville never hooked Luther Academy up to running water. Also, Melville had been unable to provide a promised financial pledge, and city taxes were due, even though Melville had promised the Academy would be tax exempt. As for moving to Regina, it was a larger city with a better library. As well, Regina was home to Regina College and Campion College.

Several sites in Regina were considered, including Winnipeg St. and College Ave., and 23rd Ave. near Albert St. Finally the decision was made to acquire a plot of land west of Government House on Dewdney Ave.

On July 12, 1925, Rev. E. G. Hertz of Melville, President of the Canada District of the Lutheran Synod of Ohio and chairman of the board of governors of the Academy, visited Regina for the ceremony to lay the cornerstone for the new building. It was part of the annual convention of the Canada District of the Lutheran Synod of Ohio, the church body with which Luther was affiliated, which was being held in Regina.

The ceremony was led by Rev. J. Fritz of Regina, and the Leader newspaper reported that he said “The special purpose of the Luther Academy was to house their young men and possibly in the years to come their young ladies for the purpose of giving them a higher education.”

Luther Program

The program for the event was
printed in German. “Ecksteinlegung” is German for “cornerstone laying.”
(Courtesy of Luther College)

Because of the German roots of the Lutheran church, and the large number of people from Germany in Saskatchewan at the time, programs for the event were printed in German, and there were sermons delivered in both English and German.

The Leader reported that “the monies for the $100,000 building came from sources where there was not an oversupply, but a great deal of the money came in the form of real offerings and real sacrifices.”

However, the fundraising went slower than expected and there were worries about losing the property, so the cornerstone was laid a year before construction actually got underway. The construction was completed in time for students to attend the new facility in the fall of 1926.

The University of Saskatchewan recognized Luther College as a junior college, and first-year university courses were offered.

Luther College was invited in 1964 to become federated with the new Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan. In 1971 a new Luther College building on the university campus opened, and the building on Dewdney Ave. that had its cornerstone laid on July 12, 1925, became Luther College High School.