Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ida May Cook McNeil (1896-1987)


Born in the Rural Municipality of Dufferin on 14 June 1896, the eldest daughter of John Sheppard Cook (1867-1933) and Mary Jane Clark (1868-1938), she came to Winnipeg in 1908 with her family and resided at 116 Inkster Boulevard. She took teacher training and embarking upon a career in education, working in the East Kildonan School District at Polson School (1915-1916) and Prince Edward School (1920-1934) prior to being named Principal of Polson School (1935-1936).

On 4 March 1936, following a meeting of the East Kildonan School Board, an exchange of Principals between Polson School and Salisbury School was announced. Many of the affected pupils went to strike in protest and the Polson staff petitioned the School Board. To resolve the situation, Deputy Minister of Education Robert Fletcher referred the matter to a Board of Reference. After several sessions during the spring of 1937, involving dozens of witnesses, over 100 exhibits, and $700 in costs, a final report to Minister of Education Ivan Schultz recommended against Cook’s reinstatement. She declined to appeal and a subsequent public petition favouring reinstatement was rejected. It is not known if she returned to teaching.

On 3 August 1940, she married Frederick John “Fred” McNeil (?-1986) at Vancouver, British Columbia and resided there. She died at Vancouver on 26 May 1987.


1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“List of results in matriculation [Part 1 Matriculation],” Manitoba Free Press, 19 June 1911, page 3.

“John S. Cook is honored by Orangemen,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 February 1933, page 4.

“John S. Cook, Past Master of L.O.L., dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 September 1933, page 9.

“Parents back up pupils’ strike against exchange of Principals,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 March 1937, page 1.

“School fuss to be settled by Enquiry Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 March 1937, pages 3 & 11.

“East Kildonan Principal charges teachers were insubordinate and disloyal,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 March 1937, page 20.

“Trouble at Polson School blamed by former Head on single teacher's attitude,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 March 1937, page 6.

“Lack of tact on Principal’s part blamed for friction existing at Polson School,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 April 1937, page 11.

“Polson teacher alleges time sheets changed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 May 1937, page 7.

“Five witnesses yet to be heard in school strike,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 May 1937, page 12.

“School Board’s story is heard in Polson probe,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 May 1937, page 6.

“All witnesses finally heard in Polson probe,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 May 1937, page 6.

“Miss Cook censured in Report on school strike probe,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 June 1937, page 3.

“No appeal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 1937, page 3.

“Ask teacher’s return,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 July 1937, page 22.

“Schultz would limit time and costs of reference boards,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 January 1938, page 5.

Obituary [Mary Jane Cook], Winnipeg Free Press, 9 September 1938, page 24.

Death notice [Mary Jane Cook], Winnipeg Free Press, 10 September 1938, page 25.

“[Miss Ida Cook was the guest of honor [...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 July 1940 page 8.

“Mrs. Wilfred Hinch arranges shower for Miss Ida Cook,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 July 1940 page 8.

“Roses deck table at tea given for Miss Ida Cook,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 July 1940 page 8.

“McNeil - Cook,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 August 1940, page 9.

Obituary [Dr. Alfred James Cook], Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 1962, page 42.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 1987, page 40.

Obituary [Winnifred Murray], Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 1994, page C6.

Obituary [Irene Anne Buckley], Winnipeg Free Press, 19 March 1995, page C5.

Court cases involving teachers and school boards (A 0058), Stenographers Shorthand Record of Court Cases Involving Teachers, GR1632, Archives of Manitoba.

Statues of Manitoba, Volume I & II: 1937-1938, Legislative Library of Manitoba.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 19 May 2017

Memorable Manitobans

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