Manitoba Historical Society
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Historic Sites of Manitoba: First School in Winnipeg (39 Maple Street, Winnipeg)

This site in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg, at the southeast corner of Maple Street and Common Street (now Henry Avenue), was formerly the property of William Gomez da Fonseca. A one-room cabin was his residence and store that he offered for use as the first public schoolhouse in the growing community. Built of poplar logs and covered with a thatched straw roof, the school opened to students on 30 October 1871, with teacher W. F. Luxton overseeing a class of 35 students. Studies focused on the core “3Rs” of reading, [w]riting, and [a]rithmetic. With many students walking great distances to attend school, before long the building was deemed too remote and insufficient for the growing enrollment. It was replaced by new school on a triangular parcel of land bordered by Ellice Avenue, Notre Dame Avenue, and Smith Street. That site was later occupied by Grace Methodist Church.

Winnipeg's first school

Winnipeg’s first school (circa 1909)
Source: “The old,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 November 1933, page 13.

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90277, W97.13149
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: William Gomez da Fonseca (1823-1905)

Red River School Day, 1871 by Betty Woods
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 6, Number 2, January 1961


Plan of Winnipeg North Sheet, George McPhillips, 1881.

“Public schools of Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 July 1904, page 14.

Insurance Plan of the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Volume 1, Sheet 13, August 1906. [Library and Archives Canada]

“Magnificent new school,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 September 1907, page 7.

“Education makes gigantic leap in thirty-eight years,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 June 1909, page 2.

“School system has 62 years steady growth,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 November 1933, page 13.

“Family scrapbook tells story of city founder,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 June 1949, page 15.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 25 April 2021

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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