When the Town of Portage la Prairie declared bankrupcy in 1886 and the public school was forced to close, the Reverend B. Franklin of West Prospect Church proposed establishing a private school—Lansdowne College, named for the Governor General of Canada at the time—to fill the educational void. Opened in September 1887, with a teaching staff of five (including Franklin as Principal), the college offered advanced instruction in art, classics, languages, mathematics, music, and commercial arts.
In mid-1889, work began on a new building for the college, designed by local architect James Allen MacDonald and opened in January 1890 by politician Nicholas Flood Davin. Yet, the facility struggled with low enrollment into the first few years of the 1890s, finally closing in late 1892. The building was taken over by its mortgage holder and converted into a residential block, later known as Villa Court. It was demolished in 1980.
Lansdowne College (1890)
Source: Manitoba: History of its Early Settlement, Development and Resources
by Robert Brown Hill, Toronto: William Briggs, 1890.
The former Lansdowne College building is visible in the background of this postcard of the Portage Central School (circa 1907)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2011-0028
Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.97161, W98.29679
denoted by symbol on the map above
Lansdowne College - A Product of the Depression of 1885 by Norman J. Williamson
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 21, Number 4, Summer 1976
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Portage Collegiate Institute (Portage la Prairie)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lansdowne School No. 145 (RM of Sifton)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lansdowne School (715 Wiginton Street, Winnipeg)
“Portage la Prairie,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 July 1889, page 1.
“Flattering to the poet of the plains,” Manitoba Free Press, 31 January 1890, page 8.
A History of Portage la Prairie and Surrounding District by Anne M. Collier, 1970, pages 146-7.
Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950.
We thank James Kostuchuk and Les Green for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 19 February 2023
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