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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Birtle Indian Residential School (Birtle, Municipality of Prairie View)

The first facility at Birtle used for the education of Aboriginal children, in what is known now as the Municipality of Prairie View, was known as the “Stone School”. Built in 1882, it was situated two blocks west of the Main Street bridge. Originally built as a school for the children of Birtle, Mayor J. S. Crawford persuaded the federal government in 1890 to lease the building as a boarding school for Aboriginal children from surrounding reserves. They used it for a year or two then town children returned to the Stone School until it burned on 20 November 1895.

In 1894, a dedicated Indian Residential School was built at this site, on a hill overlooking Birtle. A pile of gray stones from its foundation are visible down the hill from the brick building constructed nearby between 1930 and 1931 by the Claydon Brothers Construction Company of Winnipeg. Children were taught agricultural methods at a model farm located at the school. Operated originally by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, responsibility for the facility transferred to the Canadian government in March 1969. It closed in 1972 and the main building has been bought and sold a few times. Part of it was renovated for use as a residence and there were plans to develop a cultural centre there, but the building sat vacant for several years.

The building and property were sold in mid-2016 and visits to the site are not permitted.

Principals

Period

Principal

1889-1894

G. G. McLaren

1895

Neil Gilmour

1896-1901

W. J. Small

1902

W. McWhinney

1903-1905

E. H. Crawford

1905-1913

W. W. McLaren

1913-1916

David Iverach (1871-1946)

1916-1921

Mrs. S. Marshall

1922-1927

Rev. F. E. Pitts

1927-1933

Rev. H. B. Currie

1933-1941

Rev. E. H. Lockhart (1872-1952)

1941-1942

Mr. Albert E. Candy (Acting)

1942-1945

Roy Webb

1945-1970

Norman Martin Rusaw (1912-1979)

Teachers

School Year

Teachers

1945-1946

Art Frost (grades 3,4), Lillian Hamilton (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 5,6)

1946-1947

Mrs. Dean (grades 5-8), Wilma Fisher (grades 1,2), Art Frost (grades 3,4)

1947-1948

Mrs. Dean (grades 1,2), Art Frost (grades 3,4), May Kenny (grades 5-8)

1948-1949

Jean Haacke (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 5-8), Eileen Wainman (grades 3,4)

1949-1950

Jean Haacke (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 5-8), Eileen Wainman (grades 3,4)

1950-1951

Jean Haacke (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Canute Storogard (grades 3,4), Eileen Wainman (grades 5,6)

1951-1952

Mabel Cooper (grade 9), Jean Haacke (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 5-8), Orma McTaggart (grades 3,4), Eileen Wainman (grade 9)

1952-1953

Mabel Cooper (grades 10-12), Esther Heinricks (grades 1-3), May Kenny (grade 4-6), Harry Shafransky (grades 7-9)

1953-1954

Mabel Cooper (grades 10-12), Mavis Dillon (grades 1-3), Kenneth Gardner (grade 9), May Kenny (grades 6-8), Eleanor Vawter (grades 4,5)

1954-1955

Mabel Cooper (grades 8-10), Mr. Harshaw (grades 7-9), Irene Joli (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 5,6), Astrid Solbrekhen (grades 1,2), Eleanor Vawter (grades 3,4)

1955-1956

Miss Dyeck (grades 3,4), Mr. Glasier (grade 9), M. Glidden (grades 5,6), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Astrid Solbrekhen (grades 1,2), Edith Spencer (grades 5,6)

1956-1957

Georgina Butcher (grades 5,6), Mr. Glasier (grade 9), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Astrid Solbrekhen (grades 1,2), Norah Sullivan (grades 3,4)

1957-1958

Georgina Butcher (grades 5,6), Mrs. Catt (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Leslie Porteous (grade 9), Norah Sullivan (grades 3,4)

1958-1959

Georgina Butcher (grades 5,6), Mrs. Catt (grades 1,2), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Leslie Porteous (grade 9), Thelma Smith (grades 3,4)

1959-1960

I. Allison (grades 6,7), Eva Ferguson (grade 1), May Kenny (grades 8,9), Verna J. Kirkness (grades 4,5), Thelma Smith (grades 2,3)

1960-1961

May Kenny (grade 8), Verna J. Kirkness (grades 6,7), Donna Mack (grades 1,2), Mrs. McColl (grades 5,6), Thelma Smith (grades 3,4)

1961-1962

Georgina Butcher (grades 5,6), May Kenny (grades 7,8), Donna Mack (grades 1,2), Thelma Smith (grades 3,4)

1962-1963

May Kenny (grades 5,6), Joyce Simms (grade 5), Thelma Smith (grade 4)

1963-1964

May Kenny (grades 4,7), Thelma Smith (grade 5)

1964-1965

May Kenny (grades 4,5,8)

1965-1966

May Kenny (grades 5,8)

1966-1967

May Kenny (grade 6), Mrs. Evelyn Parton (grade 5)

1967-1968

May Kenny (grade 6), Mrs. Evelyn Parton (grade 5)

1968-1970

?

Photos & Maps

Birtle Indian Residential School

Postcard of Birtle Indian Residential School (circa 1908)
Source: Rob McInnes

Birtle Indian Residential School

Birtle Indian Residential School (no date)
Source: The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives, G-377-MC

Birtle Indian Residential School

Aerial view of Birtle Indian Residential School (no date)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2011-0036

Birtle Indian Residential School

Postcard of Birtle Indian Residential School (no date)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2015-0101

Birtle Indian Residential School

Front view of Birtle Indian Residential School (May 2011)
Source: Matea Tuhtar

Birtle Indian Residential School

Rear view of Birtle Indian Residential School (May 2011)
Source: Matea Tuhtar

Birtle Indian Residential School

Interior of the Birtle Indian Residential School (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Birtle Indian Residential School

One-room schoolhouse on the grounds of the Birtle Indian Residential School (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Birtle Indian Residential School

Interior of the one-room schoolhouse (June 2012)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N50.43191, W101.04183
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Indian Residential School (RM of Cornwallis)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Indian Residential School Cemetery (RM of Cornwallis)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Old Indian Residential School Cemetery (Brandon)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Birtle Indian Residential School (Birtle, Municipality of Prairie View)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Elkhorn Indian Residential School (Elkhorn, RM of Wallace-Woodworth)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: MacKay Indian Residential School (Opaskwayak Cree Nation)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School (Crescent Road West, Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Pine Creek Indian Residential School / Camperville Indian Residential School (Pine Creek First Nation)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Norway House Indian Residential School (Norway School)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Julia Clark School (611 Academy Road, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Birtle Consolidated School No. 132 (Birtle)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba

Sources:

“Birtle brevities,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 April 1890, page 5.

A View of the Birdtail: A History of the Municipality of Birtle, 1878-1974 by Marion Abra, Birtle, 1974, page 169.

“Passing It On”, RM and Town of Birtle History, 1884-2009, RM of Birtle, 2009.

A Brief Administrative History of the Residential Schools and The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Healing and Reconciliation Efforts, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, page 8.

We thank Margaret Ashcroft, Nancy Evans, Matea Tuhtar, Rob McInnes, Michelle Kortinen, Nathan Hasselstrom (Birdtail Country Museum), Kim Arnold (The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives), and Ed Ledohowski for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 September 2016

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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