Historic Sites of Manitoba: John Black School (McPhillips Street, Winnipeg)
Built in late 1904 on River Lot No. 26 along the east side of McPhillips Street, in what was at the time the Municipality of Kildonan, John Black School was named by the West Kildonan School District in commemoration of cleric John Black. It was opened to provide an education in grades 1 to 8 for the children from nearby dairy farms and market gardens.
The 30 by 30-foot wood frame structure had a single classroom with two entrances facing onto McPhillips, the north one for girls and the south one for boys. Each entrance led to a cloakroom and then into the classroom. There were two rows of windows, one facing east and the other south, with black slate blackboards on the west and north sides of the classroom. The floor consisted of rough, unpainted boards. There was no basement and the classroom was heated by a single, wood-burning stove near the back of the room. The schoolyard was enclosed by wire fencing and a water pump was situated south of the school building. Classes began at the school in February 1905.
In 1951, voters of Old Kildonan approved a $45,000 bylaw for a new one-room building to replace the original John Black School, as well as changes to Lloyd George School. Designed by the architectural firm of Prain and Ward, construction of the new building beside the old school was completed by the fall of 1952. The old school was sold around 1953 and moved to Lot 26, on Scotia Street, where it was converted into a workshop. There, on 10 November 1963, it was destroyed by fire. Available information indicates that John Black School was operating as of the 1955-1956 school year but had closed by 1961. The second one-room schoolhouse was then moved to the grounds of Centennial School and again used as classroom space before later being utilized for janitorial storage.
Among the teachers of John Black School were Lillie Stroud (1905), F. May Taylor (1906), Lena F. Addison (1907), Ruby L. McDiarmid (1908-1910), Marguerite Willard Robertson (1913-1915), Miriam C. Margarson (1915-1919), Eveline Partridge (1920), Antoine A. Allegaert (1921-1922), and Charles James Bowman (c1924-1952).
“North End notes,” Manitoba Free Press, 10 September 1906, page 11.
“Wanted - teacher for the John Black School,” Manitoba Free Press, 17 August 1907, page 28.
“Christmas Tree at West Kildonan,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 December 1914, page 12.
“An album of Winnipeg women,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 June 1935, page 11.
“Deanna Durbin contributes,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1941, page 3.
“Returning teacher honored at party by former pupils,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1950, page 2.
“Rural Municipality of Old Kildonan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1951, page 20.
“Tender,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 June 1952, page 35.
“Old Kildonan School District No. 2102,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 June 1952, page 24.
“Sale of buildings,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 April 1953, page 35.
“Old Kildonan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 August 1955, page 3.
“Kildonan School burns,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 November 1963, page 4.
A Historical Study of Public Education in West Kildonan to 1959 by Raymond Ronald Bailey, MEd thesis, University of Manitoba, 1966.
Obituary [Charles James Bowman], Winnipeg Free Press, 26 February 1985, page 43.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
We thank Jeannette Timmerman and Judy Herscovitch for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 20 May 2019
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