Historic Sites of Manitoba: École Provencher / Provencher School (320 Avenue de la Cathedrale, Winnipeg)

Link to:
Principals | Vice-Principals | Teachers | Photos & Coordinates | Sources

École Provencher’s history extends back to the earliest Catholic school in the Red River settlement. About 1818, the first missionary in the region, Father (later Bishop) Provencher, used his chapel as a school where he taught boys the four Rs: reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. In 1844, the Grey Nuns assumed responsibility for the school.

In 1906, the firm of J. H. Tremblay & Company constructed a school at the site where École Provencher stands today, at 300 Avenue de la Cathedrale. It was a modest three-storey brick and limestone building, featuring an entry tower surmounted with an elegant ogee roof. The central 12-room portion of the current building is the original 1906 section. Built in 1912, the west wing doubled the size of the school to 25 rooms. The basement of the school had shops for teaching industrial arts. Dating back to 1911, this could be the earliest shop class taught in Winnipeg. The Provencher School Cadet Corps is one of the oldest cadet corps in Manitoba. The school basement doubled as a firing range. Some of the heating ducts still have dents from stray bullets. The Corps’ old drum, along with the school’s trophies and memorabilia, is displayed proudly in a striking stairwell vitrine.

On 4 January 1923, the school was severely damaged in an explosion and subsequent blaze causing an estimated $175,000 in damages, leaving only blackened outer walls standing. While massive repairs were undertaken, students shared the facility of St. Joseph’s Academy across the street, attending half-day classes. Designed by local architect George William Northwood, the rebuilt school opened its doors in January 1924 and was formally re-opened on 27 March 1924 by St. Boniface Mayor Richard Joseph Swain, School Board Chairman Joseph Aldéric Marion, and Principal Joseph Henry Fink.

École Provencher celebrated its centenary in 2006. As part of the celebrations, the entire façade of the school was sandblasted back to its original bright limestone face. You can see the difference between the cleaned facade and untouched stone on the left side of the picture. Located on the front grounds of the school are two plaques mounted on a large stone. One marks the 90th anniversary of the school and was unveiled on 21 April 1996. The other celebrates Joseph Norbert Provencher as founder of the first school in the West in 1818 and was unveiled on the centenary of his death on 6 June 1953.

This school is operated by the Louis Riel School Division.







Joseph Henry Fink [Brother Joseph] (1874-1935)


Joseph Henry Bruns (1908-1973)


W. P. Moran


Joseph Henry Bruns (1908-1973)


Brother Albert Laurin


School Year



Brother Henri Guitard (receiving class), Miss Mary Anne Lamarre (grade 1 junior), Miss Adrienne Marion (grade 1 senior), Miss Albina Baril (grade 2 junior), Miss Antoinette Baril (grade 2 senior), Miss Antoinette Keroack (grade 3), Brother Fred Schilling (grade 4), Miss Gratia Laurendeau (grade4), Pierre Isidore Chabalier (grade 5), Brother Edward Gabel (grade 6 junior), Brother Alphonse Doucet (grade 6 senior), Brother Hebert Leles (grade 7 junior), Brother Wilfred Paul (grade 7 senior), Brother Aloysius Thein (grade 8 junior), Brother Peter Resch (grade 8 senior), Brother Eugene P. Kuhn (manual training), Brother Henry J. Grenon (high school grades), Brother J.B. Baty (high school grades), Brother Leo. Bank (high school grades)

Among the other teachers of Provencher School were Marie Anna Marion, Gabrielle Roy (1930-1936), and Pierre Isidore Chabalier (1912-1950).

Photos & Coordinates

Provencher School

Provencher School (1910) by Maurice Lyall
Source: Rob McInnes

Provencher School

Provencher School (circa 1922)
Source: Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 7 September 1922, page 5.

Provencher School

Provencher School (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, School Inspectors Photographs,
GR8461, A0233, C131-3, page 96.

Provencher School

Provencher School (2008)
Source: Reid Dickie

Provencher School

Provencher School (April 2017)
Source: George Penner

Provencher School

Provencher School monument (2010)
Source: City of Winnipeg

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.89110, W97.11385
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provencher School No. 997 (Aubigny, RM of Morris)


“Park for St. Boniface,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 June 1906, page 10.

“Provencher School staff is announced,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 27 August 1920, page 2.

“Important St. Boniface Schools,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 7 September 1922, page 5.

“Incendiarism is suspected by board officials,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 4 January 1923, pages 1 & 3.

“Provencher School destroyed by fire,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 4 January 1923, page 3.

“Rebuilding work to be undertaken soon,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 January 1923, page 2.

“St. Boniface,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 8 January 1923, page 12.

“Provencher School destroyed by lighted cigar or cigarette butt,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 6 February 1923, page 3.

“New Provencher School,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 13 March 1923, page 15.

“Schools by-law given majority,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 18 April 1923, page 3.

“St. Boniface to rebuild school,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 10 May 1923, page 17.

“Provencher school to open about Jan. 14,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 23 December 1923, page 1.

“Provencher School formally opened,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 28 March 1924, page 2.

Annual Reports of the Manitoba Department of Education, Manitoba Legislative Library.

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.

We thank Rob McInnes for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer, Gordon Goldsborough, Reid Dickie, and George Penner.

Page revised: 15 December 2023

Historic Sites of Manitoba

This is a collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. The information is offered for historical interest only.

Browse lists of:
Museums/Archives | Buildings | Monuments | Cemeteries | Locations | Other

Inclusion in this collection does not confer special status or protection. Official heritage designation may only come from municipal, provincial, or federal governments. Some sites are on private property and permission to visit must be secured from the owner.

Site information is provided by the Manitoba Historical Society as a free public service only for non-commercial purposes.

Send corrections and additions to this page
to the MHS Webmaster at webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

Search Tips | Suggest an Historic Site | FAQ

Help us keep history alive!