Historic Sites of Manitoba: Kildonan School No. 8 / Kildonan West School / West Kildonan School / Nisbet Hall (2373 Main Street, Winnipeg)
This building was erected by the Presbyterian parishioners of Kildonan under the active supervision of the Reverend James Nisbet. This simple stone structure was opened on 12 July 1865. It featured a main room accommodating up to 80 pupils and a smaller back room for special classes in advanced subjects. In 1871, it became part of the Kildonan School District No. 8. In November of the same year, early Manitoba College classes met here while awaiting the completion of a separate college building. In April 1873, the school district divided into Kildonan West and Kildonan East. The Kildonan West School name remained in used until around 1898 when it then became known as West Kildonan School. The structure was also the home of the Kildonan Literary Society [also known as the Kildonan Mutual Improvement Society] and the centre for many community and social functions, including occasional usage by the congregation of the Kildonan Presbyterian Church.
In 1847, John Inkster taught Kildonan School classes held at the residence of John Flett. Following that site, a log schoolhouse was purpose-built and at which the teachers were Alexander Matheson (December 1849 - June 1853), Adam MacBeth (?-?), and Hector MacBeth (?-?). This schoolhouse was situated north of the later stone schoolhouse. The teachers at stone Kildonan West School included Alexander W. Ross (July 1865 - ?), James Harper (?-?), Alexander Polson (?-?), David Bell Whimster (October 1869 - c1870), George F. Munroe (1871 - January 1874), Mr. McIntosh (1878-1879), R. G. McBeth [MacBeth] (1879-?), A. McBeath (?-?), Annie Jaffray (1883-1885, 1886), Lizzie Wickware (1885), C. A. Bredin (1887), Florence Shafer (1888-1890), Harriet R. “Hattie” Black (1890-1892), James S. McIvor (1892-1893), Devra? Munro (1893), Flora Mourr? (1894), M. M. Forrest (1894-1895), Luela [Lulla?] R. McIvor (1896), Isabelle R. McIvor (1897-1900), A. D. McLeod (1901), W. H. Lang (1901), B. L. Lang (1901), and Clara Mary Bemister (1905).
Closed and abandoned in 1905 in favour of the Kildonan Public School nearer the Red River, the building was renovated in 1919 and Nisbet Hall, as it was known, served as a parish meeting place until a fire in 1969. The building was moved to its present site in 1987 and restored as a part of Kildonan Community Church. A plaque was unveiled at the site in 1990 by the Manitoba Heritage Council. In 2019, Nisbet Hall became a municipally-designated historic building. Another commemorative devise, an engraved tablet, within the building commemmorates the 1871 innaugural classes of the Manitoba College.
Inside the building are honours rolls for congregants of Kildonan Presbyterian Church who served and were killed in the First World War and Second World War.
Photos & Coordinates
“Kildonan schools,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 8 February 1878, page 1.
“School examination,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 19 July 1879, page 1.
A Historical Study of Public Education in West Kildonan to 1959 by Raymond Ronald Bailey, MEd thesis, University of Manitoba, 1966.
Summative half-yearly returns for school districts (A 0051), GR0571, Archives of Manitoba.
Page revised: 3 August 2020