Manitoba Historical Society
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MHS Centennial Organization: Portage Collegiate Institute

Portage la Prairie was one of Manitoba’s first communities so it is not surprising that, by 1882, there were sufficient numbers of children warranting the opening of a Collegiate for older students, the first to be established outside Winnipeg. Unfortunately, the Collegiate did not last long as it – and all of Portage’s schools – closed in 1886 when the town declared bankruptcy. The lower grades were reopened soon after, but the town could not resume responsibility for higher grades. Many, including college professor and MHS founder George Bryce, would urge the city fathers to remedy the situation, but to no avail.

The needs for collegiate education were finally addressed in September 1895 with the opening of Portage Collegiate Institute, with an initial enrollment of 40 pupils. Its objective was to prepare students for teachers’ examinations, and entrance into the University of Manitoba. Some of the students were found to have an inadequate working knowledge of Latin and French, so a remedial class in these subjects was initiated. Other subjects included Mathematics, English Literature, Science, and History. By 1899, enrollment had grown to 151 pupils and the need for a larger building was increasingly felt. Portage taxpayers finally approved construction of a new high school, which opened in 1905. This building would be the home for PCI until the spring of 1954, when it was destroyed by fire. Students pitched in to fundraise for a new facility, which opened in May 1956, supplemented by additional construction in 1961 and ongoing renovations.

Portage Collegiate Institute has numerous distinguished alumni, among them three provincial premiers: Douglas Campbell, Walter Weir, and Sterling Lyon.

An MHS Centennial Organization Award was presented by President Gordon Goldsborough to Dennis Hallick, Chair of the Portage School District, on 23 April 2006.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Portage Collegiate Institute (Portage la Prairie)


Ante Nos Scientia: Portage Collegiate Institute 1882-2005 by Lisa Pao with Barry Bills, Portage Collegiate Institute Reunion Committee, 2005.

Page revised: 3 March 2013

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