Historic Sites of Manitoba: Oak Bluff School No. 600 (Oak Bluff, RM of Macdonald)
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.
Among the teachers of Oak Bluff School were Jennie Howard (1897) and Catherine Slater (1940s).
Photos & Coordinates
“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.
“Schoolhouse transformed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 December 1996, page 86.
We thank Blaine Little for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 February 2021