Historic Sites of Manitoba: Grace Methodist Church / Wesleyan Institute / South Ward School (Main Street, Winnipeg)
In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company gave the congregation of Grace Methodist Church in Winnipeg an acre of land on Main Street at Water Avenue (now William Stephenson Way). Construction of a church building was delayed by the 1869-1870 Red River Resistance and low water levels on the Assiniboine River that prevented the delivery by boat of lumber from High Bluff. Work began on 10 April 1871, with much of the carpentry done by Mr. Dawson and Mr. Gardiner, who had previously built the first Zion Church. The completed timber-frame church measured 30 feet by 50 feet with an interior painted and trimmed with oak, and several stain glass windows. The site was surrounded by a white picket fence and a wooden parsonage was north of the church building. A church bell, donated by the Sabbath Church of Oshawa, Ontario, sat between the church and parsonage.
The church opened on 17 September 1871 with Reverend George Young preaching the first service and Assistant Reverend Matthew Robinson the second service. Several rooms attached to the parsonage were used to teach classes under the banner of the Manitoba Wesleyan Institute, prior to the establishment of Wesley College. Between 1876 and 1877, the lower level of the Wesleyan Institute was used as the South Ward School of the Winnipeg School Division.
The original church building was soon found to be too small so two large wings were added to its east side in 1877. Three years later, insufficient space was again a problem so, in late 1880, the building was abandoned. In 1883, the congregation had settled at a new site on Notre Dame Avenue. The site of the former church was later occupied by the Industrial Bureau Exposition Building. The church’s location was approximately that of the Century Plaza Building at 1 Wesley Avenue and the avenue itself, with the site of the parsonage and its attached educational rooms now occupied by the south flank of the Federal Building and adjacent parking lot.
Principals (Wesleyan Institute)
Principals (South Ward School)
Photos & Coordinates
“Manitoba Wesleyan Institute,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 25 August 1874, page 4.
“Wesleyan Institute,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 29 April 1876, page 8.
“Winnipeg Public School,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 9 December 1876, page 3.
“The South Ward School,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 23 December 1876, page 2.
McPhillips Insurance Plans of the City of Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba, 1880. [Library and Archives Canada]
“New Grace Church,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 1 October 1883, page 8.
“A land mark going,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 28 June 1897, page 7.
“Progress of Methodism,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 January 1903, page 13.
“Built First Grace Church,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 November 1909, page 14.
Insurance plan of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Volume One, August 1906, revised May 1914. [Library and Archives Canada]
“Congregation will have picture of founder of church,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 June 1938, page 7.
Page revised: 17 January 2021