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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Central Judicial District Gaol and Courthouse (20 Third Street SE, Portage la Prairie)

Around 1891, a gaol building for the Central Judicial District was constructed at Portage la Prairie on a design by Winnipeg architect Charles H. Wheeler. Three years later, a two-storey brick structure designed by George Browne was constructed to provide more prison cells and rooms for the County Court, Surrogate Court, and Queen’s Bench Court, and the Sheriff’s office.

In November 1901, the building was turned into a “a reformatory prison for the detention of youthful offenders from the Province generally and the better class of prisoners from the district” under gaoler Daniel McLean. Nine years later, the youth were transferred to the newly-constructed Industrial Training School nearby. Another addition to the gaol in 1930-1931 provided space for the incarceration of women and they were transferred from the Vaughan Street Gaol in Winnipeg starting in May 1932. After 1944, the gaol became an exclusively female institution when male prisoners were transferred to the Headingley Gaol.

Sheriffs of the Central Judicial District




Daniel McLean (1854-1908)


Richard Pierce Butler (1839-1912)


William Sheppard (1841-1916)


Robert Henry Home (1862-1944)

Photos & Maps

Postcard view of the Central District Courthouse

Postcard view of the Central District Courthouse (no date)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2014-0280

Central District Gaol Building

Central District Gaol Building (October 2013)
Source: James Kostuchuk

Central District Gaol Building

Central District Gaol Building (October 2013)
Source: James Kostuchuk

Central District Courthouse Building

Central District Courthouse Building (June 2017)
Source: George Penner

Site Location (lat/long): N49.97175, W98.28555
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Headingley Gaol (RM of Headingley)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba

The forgotten policeman (murder of Constable Charles Rooke – Manitoba Provincial Police),” Winnipeg Police Service Museum.

The history of hangings in Portage la Prairie,” The Hooper and Holler.

The 1946 Portage Women’s Jail riot,” The Winnipeg Time Machine.


The Early Years of the Manitoba Home for Boys (Portage la Prairie), 1889-1948 by Cameron Harvey. Winnipeg: The Author, 2010. [Manitoba Legislative Library, HV 9110 .P6M3 Har]

Portage la Prairie, 1870-1970 by Anne M. Collier, Portage la Prairie, 1970, page 250.

We thank George Penner for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by James Kostuchuk and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 10 January 2019

Historic Sites of Manitoba

This is a collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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