Historic Sites of Manitoba: Grand Prairie School No. 1902 (Municipality of Roblin)
The Grand Prairie School District was established in July 1917, though remained dormant for the first year. In August 1918, efforts were renewed and a loan of $2,000 was secured to finance the first schoolhouse. It operated a one-room wooden frame building near Boggy Creek, at SE4-30-28W in what is now the Municipality of Roblin. A further debenture of $1,000 in April 1920 to complete the approximately 22 feet by 30 feet structure. A stable was added to the property in 1926.
Classroom capacity had long become inadequate by the late 1930s, however tight finances and a lack of apetite among some district ratepayers to spend money meant a second or expanded schoolhouse did not initially enjoy broad support. The districts school trustees considered renting and were spurred to action following correspondence with Deputy Minister of Education Robert Fletcher who reminded them of their oblications under the Public Schools Act to provide adequate accommodation. Fletcher noted that additional capacity was a responsiblity for which ratepayer support was not required, and that for too long had their capacity had been neglected; further adding that if changes were not made soon, that an official trustee would replace the current local trustees. Additional quarters were soon-after found, and a 20 feet by 24 feet log building rented from Tom Wheeler and funished as a classroom. The original schoolhouse became known as School No. 1 and the rented facility became School No. 2. This second school, also known as Little Grand Prairie School, was located at SW32-29-28W, and for a time it also included overflow attendance from the surrounding districts of Walker School, Clemenceau School, and Happy Lake School.
The district continued to operate two one-room school sites into the late 1940s, by which time the venues comprised of the original School No. 1 and a local hall. One measuring 31 feet by 19 feet by 11 feet, and the other measured 39 feet by 23 feet by 10 feet. In early 1950, the district acquired a schoolhouse from the Walker School District No. 1377, and once relocated, then borrowed $4,500 to remodel and equip their classroom, as well as adding both a basement and new heating system to the teacherage.
In 1963, a more permanent solution was had when the district constructed a multi-classroom school building measuring 56 by 84 feet. Four years later, the district was dissolved and its catchment area became part of the Intermountain School Division. The school closed in the summer of 1971 and starting in the fall of that year, students were bused to classes in Roblin. Thereafter tendered for sale by the School Division, the former school building was purchased and renovated into a Christian guest house for seniors and others called the Bethesda Intermountain Lodge. The building was later converted into a workshop and remained at the site at the time of a 2014 visit.
Among the early teachers of Grand Prairie School were Caroline Courchene (Spring 1919 - Spring 1920), Catherine Boyce (Fall 1921 - Spring 1923), Donald Black (Fall 1923), C. A. Evandall (Fall 1923), R. M. Lamond (Spring 1924 - Spring 1926), E. Hitchen (Fall 1926 - Spring 1927), C. Marten (Fall 1927 - Spring 1928), Miss Gordon (Fall 1928 - Spring 1930), Mrs. Touzin? (Fall 1930 - Spring 1931), John McKeefe (Fall 1931 - Spring 1932), Miss A. Morisseau (Fall 1932 - Spring 1935), and Miss Laviolette (Fall 1937 - Spring 1938).
Photos & Coordinates
Childs Lake East topographic map, 62N/11 East, Edition 2, Series A743 [Archives of Manitoba].
“Tenders wanted,” Roblin Review, 29 September 1918, page 3.
“Tenders wanted,” Roblin Review, 28 October 1971, page 2.
“Grand Prairie School converted to guest house,” Roblin Review, 1 February 1973, page 1.
Shell River Municipality Century One, 1884-1984 by Roblin History Book Committee, 1986.
Corporate Security registered documents (ATG 0089), #7 - School District of Grand Prairie, GR12576, Archives of Manitoba.
Corporate Security registered documents (ATG 0089), #22 - School District of Grand Prairie, GR12576, Archives of Manitoba.
School division and school district formation files (E 0027), Grand Prairie School District #1902, GR1688, Archives of Manitoba.
Departmentally appointed school trustee files (E 0034), Grand Prairie School District #1902 - Minute Books, GR1629, Archives of Manitoba.
Departmentally appointed school trustee files (E 0034), Grand Prairie School District #1902 - Daily Registers, GR1629, Archives of Manitoba.
Departmentally appointed school trustee files (E 0034), Grand Prairie School District #1902 - Cash Book, GR1629, Archives of Manitoba.
Departmentally appointed school trustee files (E 0034), Grand Prairie School District #1902 - Miscellaneous, GR1629, Archives of Manitoba.
Trustee records regarding geographically remote schools directly administered by Department (E 0166), File 1902 - Grand Prairie - Permanent, GR1206, Archives of Manitoba.
School division half-yearly attendance reports (E 0757), Archives of Manitoba.
Municipal borrowing files (MA 0039), Grand Prairie School District #1902, GR1799, Archives of Manitoba.
One Hundred Years in the History of the Rural Schools of Manitoba: Their Formation, Reorganization and Dissolution (1871-1971) by Mary B. Perfect, MEd thesis, University of Manitoba, April 1978.
Page revised: 18 August 2020