Historic Sites of Manitoba: Bedson School / Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary and Middle Schools (250 Bedson Street, Winnipeg)
Built between 1967 and 1968 on designs of the Winnipeg architectural firm Pratt Lindgren Snider Tomcej and Associates, this facility was part of a three-school, 82-classroom, $1,415,064 building spree to keep pace with skyrocketing enrollment in the Assiniboine North School Division. (Other schools built at the time were Arthur Oliver and Voyageur.) The building was constructed by the Taubensee Construction Company Limited and was opened at a ceremony on 30 May 1968, attended by Department of Education Supervisor and Secretary of the School Buildings Projects Committee of Assiniboia Bernard M. Grafton. Also speaking at the event were Assiniboia Mayor William J. Turner and Assiniboia North School Board Chairman M. J. Parsons. Named for Samuel Lawrence Bedson, the school featured a gymnasium at the centre, ringed with 26 rooms (classrooms and office space), totaling some 41,585 square feet.
The school closed in the summer of 1985 as a result of steadily declining student enrollment. From December 1988 to September 1989, it housed students from grades 7 to 12 from Joseph Wolinsky School after a $600,000 blaze heavily damaged that Matheson Avenue school.
In 1992, the building was leased by the Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School (WMES). Envisioned by University of Manitoba medical research Dr. Henry Friesen and his wife Katherine in 1980, the WMES began to take form in 1981 under the guidance of a governing board that included Dr. Friesen, Provincial Court Judge John Johann Enns, Canadian Mennonite Bible College Theology Professor Helmut Harder, management consultant David Epp, and Allan Siebert. Its premise was that, although several Mennonite high schools existed in Manitoba, there were no corresponding elementary schools. In 1981, a four-classroom wing of Lansdowne School was rented from the Winnipeg School Division, and classes began on 3 September 1981. It operated there from 1981 to 1983, after which the school relocated to the former Columbus School leased from the St. James - Assiniboia School Division from 1983 to 1992. The school (then K-6) moved to the former Bedson School in 1992, and expanded classes to include grades 7 and 8. A second campus (K-6) was acquired in 1994 using the former Agassiz School of the Fort Garry School Division. In 2008, the WMES changed its name to the Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary and Middle Schools.
Photos & Coordinates
“Tenders,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 1967, page 12.
“Assiniboia school construction starts,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 June 1967, page 28.
“Three schools in three days,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 May 1968, page 3.
“Bedson School opened,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 1968, page 9.
“The nice kids in school make it a happier Yule,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 December 1971, page 19.
“Mennonite group seeks elementary school in city,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 February 1981, page 2.
“Mennonite elementary school fast attracting full enrollment,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 August 1981, page 5.
“Attention parents ...,” Winnipeg Free Press Leisure, 12 June 1982, page 10.
“School fire leaves students in limbo,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 December 1988, page 3.
“The St. James - Assiniboia School Division requests proposals to lease,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Western Edition, 18 June 1989, page 5.
“Joseph Wolinsky students back home,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Southwest Edition, 24 September 1989, page 13.
“Bedson School leasing proposal withdrawn,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Southwest Edition, 12 August 1990, page 8.
“Mennonite school wants new location,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Northeast Edition, 1 September 1991, page 9.
“Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary Schools Inc.” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 October 2006, page B7.
“Redevelopers learn about schools,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 November 2007, page B6.
School History, Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary and Middle Schools
Page revised: 16 November 2021