Historic Sites of Manitoba: Central Normal School (442 William Avenue, Winnipeg)
The former Central Normal School at 442 William Avenue in Winnipeg was one of six Normal Schools in Manitoba, along with Brandon, Dauphin, Manitou, Portage la Prairie, and St. Boniface. It served as the headquarters for teacher training for more than forty years. Before its construction, classes were held on the second floor of the vacant Stobart Block on Portage Avenue near Main Street or in the Central School No. 1 building.
Constructed in 1905-1906 from plans by provincial architect Samuel Hooper, at a cost of about $100,000, the Neo-Classical structure was made of Tyndall limestone with interior wood work of oak and fir. The basement featured classrooms, recreation room, gymnasium, lavatories, kitchen, and mechanical rooms. On the main floor were classrooms and offices, a model room and library, and large halls. The second floor had more classrooms, laboratory, museum and art room. An apartment of the resident caretaker and storerooms were in the attic.
In 1912, Otto Klotz, the federal government’s astronomer, arranged for a laboratory to be constructed three storeys below the basement of the building. Its purpose was to study the deformation of the Earth’s crust by the gravitational forces of the moon. Unfortunately, the new laboratory was prone to flooding so, before it was equipped, it was abandoned in favour of another underground lab built in Ottawa.
In 1942, the building was taken over by the Canadian military and staff and students of the Normal School moved to temporary facilities near Gimli. In September 1946, the Normal School moved to a facility in southwest Winnipeg then, in the autumn of 1958, it was renamed the Manitoba Teachers’ College. The facility was moved to the University of Manitoba in 1965, becoming its Faculty of Education.
The building was renovated for residential use in 1992, for which it received a Heritage Winnipeg Conservation Award. Two years later, a plaque was placed in front of it by the Manitoba Heritage Council. It is a municipally-designated historic site.
Photos & Coordinates
Public Buildings Erected and Improved by the Government of Manitoba during the Years 1900-1906, Government of Manitoba, December 1906. [Copy at Archives of Manitoba]
“Next Normal School classes to start at Tuxedo Sept. 9,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 April 1946, page 21.
Central Normal School, Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques
Central Normal School, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch
Information for this page was provided by The City of Winnipeg’s Planning, Property and Development Department, which acknowledges the contribution of the Government of Manitoba through its Heritage Grants Program.
With the West in Her Eyes: Nellie Hislop’s Story by E. W. Nuffield, Winnipeg: Hyperion Press Limited, 1987, page 102.
Manitoba Normal School Principals, 1939-1965, Manitoba Education Library Archives.
Give Me This Mountain by Mary Kornelsen, Steinbach: Derksen Printers, 1975.
Over the Rainbow: Memories of a Country School Teacher by Ruth Emisch, 1993.
Provincial Normal School (442 William Avenue), City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings and Resources Committee, April 1980.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 August 2020