Historic Sites of Manitoba: Oak Bluff School No. 600 (Oak Bluff, RM of Macdonald)

Link to:
Principals | Vice-Principals | Teachers | Photos & Coordinates | Sources

In 1889, settler Benjamin Casselman offered a site on the corner of his property, at SW25-9-1 east of the Principal Meridian, in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, for the establishment of a school. Named in memory of Casselman’s son who had been killed in a farm accident, Otto School No. 600 was formally established in August 1889. Heated by a cordwood-length stove that burned eight logs at a time, the building featured “blackboards across the front of the main room, a foot-high platform with an organ on the right side and a bookcase on the left.”

Sometime after 1905, Otto was renamed Oak Bluff School. The original school building was replaced in 1913 by one at SE25-9-1E, named Oak Bluff Consolidated School. It burned down on 12 December 1929 when children were practicing for the annual concert. Lessons were held in the old school building nearby until a replacement could be constructed in time for resumption of classes in September 1930. The new school had three classrooms with a library and chemistry laboratory. In May 1969, the school became part of Morris-Macdonald School Division, teaching students in grades 1 to 6. At one point in the late 1980s, it was threatened with closure due to declining student enrollment but new residential development in Oak Bluff spurred a resurgence. In November 1996, the 1930 building was replaced by a new school at a different site.

On 17 June 1989, a monument was unveiled on the site of the former school, for the centenary of its establishment.





George Melvin Newfield (1904-1977)




George Melvin Newfield (1904-1977)


Charles Edward Clare Durnin (c1903-1974)


Ross Laverne Donald (1907-1992)


William Lineham Logan (1898-1987)


G. E. Bjornson


Harvey Willis Ferrier (1873-1957)


Stanley Francis Pye (1908-1985)




Harry Sharpe (c1905-1958)


Freida Thordarson


Freida Henderson


Franz Julius Solmundson (1907-1989)


Emanuel Peter “Manuel” Tanchak (1914-1993)


Adam “Ed” Nazarko (1928-1993)


Jonina E. Wood


Edward E. Skabar


William George Cooper (1911-1983)


Among the teachers of Oak Bluff School were Jennie Howard (1897) and Catherine Slater (1940s).

Photos & Coordinates

Former Otto School building

Former Otto School building (circa 1911)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, School Inspectors Photos GR2664, C65.

Oak Bluff Consolidated School

Oak Bluff Consolidated School (1913)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, School Inspectors Photos GR2664, C65.

Oak Bluff School

Oak Bluff School (no date) by E. D. Parker
Source: Archives of Manitoba, School Inspectors Photographs,
GR8461, A0233, C131-1, page 94.

Former Oak Bluff School building, constructed in 1930

Former Oak Bluff School building, constructed in 1930 (circa 1986)
Source: Historic Resources Branch, Public School Buildings Inventory, slide 646.

Former Oak Bluff School building

Former Oak Bluff School building (circa 1986)
Source: Historic Resources Branch, Public School Buildings Inventory, slide 648.

Oak Bluff School commemorative monument

Oak Bluff School commemorative monument (August 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.77324, W97.32262
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba Organization: Morris-Macdonald School Division School District No. 19


“The Indian famine fund,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 March 1897, page 4.

Annual Reports of the Manitoba Department of Education, Manitoba Legislative Library.

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.

Hugging the Meridian, Macdonald: A Manitoba Municipal History, 1881-1981 by Betty Dyck, 1981.

Oak Leaves: A History of the Oak Bluff District by Oak Bluff Women’s Institute, 1984. [MHS Library]

“Oak Bluff School [Reunion],” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 1989, page 60.

A Study of Public School Buildings in Manitoba by David Butterfield, Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 1994, 230 pages.

“Schoolhouse transformed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 December 1996, page 86.

Obituary [Catherine Maria Thexton], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 March 2019.

We thank Blaine Little for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 May 2023

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