Historic Sites of Manitoba: Children’s Home of Winnipeg / Children’s Home School / Winnipeg Winter Club (198 River Avenue, Winnipeg)
Established at Winnipeg in 1884, the first child-care institution in Western Canada, the Children’s Home attended to children who were from single-parent homes, orphaned, or abandoned. The organization was overseen by the Women’s Christian Union until being incorporated in 1887, at which time a separate governing board was formed. Operational costs were aided by grants from the provincial government as well as the city, and aided by food, material, money, and skilled help from the citizenry, businesses, medical professionals, schools, churches, associations, and social groups. Children in the Home’s care having untreatable medical conditions were transferred to the Home for the Incurables at Portage la Prairie.
Originally, the Home was located on May Street, then in 1885 it moved to the corner of Hargrave Street and Assiniboine Avenue. Later, it moved at a site on Portage Avenue between Young and Furby Streets where it remained until 1889. Insufficient capacity necessitated a move to a larger facility, and a search of the city was undertaken to find a new location. This site on River Avenue was selected.
A existing structure at the site was purchased and enlarged at a cost of $11,216 and five adjacent lots were also bought for a further $1,950. Before long, space again became an issue. This facility was expanded in 1897 with the addition of a stone foundation to the existing structure, along with a basement and two-storey expansion on the south end of the building. The brick-exterior add-on afforded some 20 square feet, and served as the new kitchen on the main floor and boys’ dormitory on the second floor. In 1901, a new building was added to the site. An overheated pipe resulted in a fire that consumed the old Children’s Home building on the site, then used as a residence, on 8 December 1904.
By 1895, 351 children had been in care of the Home since its founding. Of these, 27 children had been adopted, six were out on three-month trials, and 28 deaths had occurred. For the children who had died, former Superintendent S. D. McKilligan had donated two lots in St. James Cemetery for their burial. To adopt a child from the facility, a potential guardian had to present two certificates of character, one from a clergyman and another from a Justice of the Peace. The process then entered a three-month approbation period, after which contracts were signed. Annual correspondence was received from the adopted, along with a payment from their guardians, which went into an interest-free savings account to be presented to them on their 18th birthday.
Under the auspices of the Winnipeg School Division, a school was opened at the Home on 3 March 1891. Initial enrollment was 32 students. On account of crowding, the schoolroom was converted to other uses for the 1895-1896 school year, with 17 children attending the nearby Fort Rouge School. A school was stablished at the Home when Mabel Z. Dulmadge was transferred from Fort Rouge School.
In 1901-1902, a new $15,000 expansion wing was constructed on designs of architect J. H. G. Russell with a focus towards the care and needs of infants. It was officially unveiled on 30 January 1902 before a crowd of several hundred. The three-storey add-on was large in comparison to the smaller original structure and also featured a full basement containing rooms for laundry, storage cellar, and vegetable room. On the first floor was a dining room, nursery, kitchen, pantry, and two large bedrooms. The second level housed five bedrooms and dormitory space, with the top floor being an isolation ward hospital. The top floor was accessed from a separate exterior entrance and was connected to the kitchen via a dumb waiter. The entire wing was of brick construction and featured electric lighting.
A free-standing, two-classroom frame building was built on the Home’s property in 1905-1906, with classes for boys and girls beginning there in March 1906.
In 1916, the Home including the school moved to a new and much larger site on Academy Road. The River Avenue structure was later demolished. There are extensive records for the Children’s Home, including architectural plans from 1909 for the River Avenue site, at the Archives of Manitoba.
The Winnipeg Winter Club acquired the site in 1947 and set about building a new centre to replace their previous facilities sold off in 1942 to the Royal Canadian Navy. Designed by the Winnipeg architectural firm of Moody and Moore, the cornerstone was laid by ice-skating star Barbara Ann Scott on 6 June 1949, with construction by the firm of Couture and Toupin at cost of $600,000. The new facility officially opened on 15 December 1949, nearly 20 years to the date after their previous centre’s opening. The structure was subsequently expanded several times, including addition of outdoor tennis courts off Stradbrook Avenue in 1976. Several architectural plans for the River Avenue site, based on designs of MMP Architects, are available at the Archives of Manitoba.
Matrons / Superintendents
The other teachers of the Children’s Home School included Rose Edna Cable Marshall (1908-1915) and C. M. Fuller (1915-1916).
Photos & Coordinates
“City and Province [The Children’s Home],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 8 May 1885, page 4.
“City Council [Childrens Home],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 23 February 1886, page 4.
“City and Province [Maternity Hospital and Childrens Home],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 3 April 1886, page 4.
“The little folks,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 22 April 1886, page 4.
“A garden party,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 22 June 1886, page 4.
“Children’s Home,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 10 January 1887, page 4.
“City and Province [Children’s Home],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 27 April 1887, page 4.
“The Legislature [Friday, 13th May],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 14 May 1887, page 3.
“Finance Committee,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 30 April 1887, page 4.
“The Children’s Home,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 11 January 1889, page 4.
“The Childrens’ Home, Manitoba Daily Free Press, 9 January 1891, page 5.
“The Childrens’ Home,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 15 January 1892, page 8.
“Schools in session,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 2 September 1892, page 5.
“Reopening of the schools,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 4 September 1893, page 5.
“The Children’s Home,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 19 January 1894, page 7.
“Children’s Home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 January 1896, page 5.
“Children’s Home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 November 1897, page 5.
“Home free of debt,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 January 1900, pages 2 and 7.
“For the sake of charity,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 31 January 1902, page 4.
“A monument to devotion,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 31 January 1902, page 7.
“The Children’s Home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 May 1904, page 15.
“Fire fiend is busy today,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 December 1904, page 1.
Marriage and death registrations [Ruth Edna Cable Marshall (1879-1927)], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Winnipeg schools worth $1,042,050,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 December 1905, page 7.
“Children's Home School,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 December 1906, page 45.
“Re-opening of schools,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 August 1908, page 1.
“Blaze at the Home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 June 1906, page 9.
“Small blaze on River Ave.,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 October 1907, page 7.
“Changes in city schools,” Manitoba Free Press, 31 August 1907, page 13.
“Will build new Children’s Home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 February 1909, page 1.
“Assignment of teachers for Winnipeg schools which open on Sept. 15,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 September 1911, page 9.
“Children’s Home in need of funds,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 March 1912, page 15.
“City school staffs assembling in Sept.,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 August 1912, page 8.
“Opening of Winnipeg schools,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 August 1913, page 2.
“Here’s your teacher!” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 August 1914, page 6.
“School board assigns teachers,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 August 1915, page 9.
“Reduce staff of teachers at high schools Monday,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 August 1916, page 1.
“Children’s Home of Winnipeg makes plans for celebrating golden jubilee next Saturday,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 12 January 1935, page 10.
“City’s 1948 building tops all marks but 1912 “Boom”,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 January 1949, page 1.
“Barbara Ann to preside at cornerstone ceremony,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 June 1949, page 10.
[Photo caption], Winnipeg Tribune, 7 June 1949, page 3.
“New Winter Club is city athletes’ paradise,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 December 1949, page 34.
“New Winter Club,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 December 1949, page 34.
[Photo caption], Winnipeg Tribune, 16 December 1949, page 14.
Children’s Home of Winnipeg fonds, Annual Reports, Archives of Manitoba.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 23 May 2020