Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Boniface Sanatorium / St. Vital Sanatorium / St. Amant Centre / St. Amant School (440 River Road, Winnipeg)
Located on lot 55 in St. Vital, the St. Boniface Sanatorium (also known as the St. Vital Tuberculosis Sanatorium) was an unemployment relief project built in 1930-1931 on a design by Winnipeg architect John Nelson Semmens. The 250-bed, red-brick facility was built and furnished by local contractors and suppliers, some of whom were John Fabris & Sons (tile and marble), Cowin & Company (steelwork, structural engineers), Kelvinator Company (electric refrigeration), J. H. Ashdown Company Limited (interior hardware), Cusson Lumber Company and Brown & Rutherford Company Limited (lumber), T. Eaton Company Limited (furnishings), Carter-Halls-Aldinger Company (construction, Children’s Pavilion), and many others.
The campus consisted of three structures made of brick, concrete, and Tyndall stone. The four-storey main building was laid out in an “H” pattern with ground-level space in both the south and west wings allotted to patients, thereby affording them the most access to sunlight. Staff and service rooms occupied the northern side of the structure. The first floor central area contained administration quarters and a chapel. On the second and third floors were diagnostic equipment and examination rooms, with the fourth floor containing an auditorium and accommodation for sun treatment sessions. This structure was connected via tunnels to the two-storey Children’s Pavilion (containing 50 of the 250-bed total), and a service building that housed laundry services, the powerhouse, and male staff quarters. The Sanatorium was operated under the auspices of the Grey Nuns of St. Boniface, known formally by their incorporated name of “Les Soeurs de la Charite” (Sisters of Charity).
The project cost some $800,000 to complete and was officially opened on 30 September 1931. An inaugural mass in the chapel kicked-off the day’s events, the sanctuary seating some 200 attendees. That was followed by speeches from Premier John Bracken, Archbishop A. A. Sinnott, and Health Minister E. W. Montgomery to an invitation-only crowd of 400 people. An open viewing was held that afternoon for the general public.
Renamed the St. Vital Hospital, it was later closed and threatened with demolition. Instead, it was reopened on 2 June 1974 as a facility for the care of mentally handicapped people known as the St. Amant Centre, named for Beatrice St. Amant. A school was operated at the site, for which the St. Vital School Division took over responsibility for programming and educational services on 1 January 1975, first on a trial basis, then permanently.
Medical Superintendents (Sanatorium)
Principals (St. Amant School)
Teachers (St. Amant School)
Photos & Maps
“St. Boniface Sanatorium to cost $800,000,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 May 1930, page 15.
“Ask St. Boniface men get work on new sanatorium,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 June 1930, page 3.
“Large awards in July,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 July 1930, page 19.
“Work is progressing well on sanitarium,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 September 1930, page 21.
“St. Boniface Sanatorium ready for occupancy,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 29 September 1931, page 6.
“Spacious sanatorium in St. Vital opened,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 September 1931, page 5.
“New St. Vital Sanitorium opened by Premier Bracken,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 September 1931, page 10.
“Manitoba’s sanatorium report,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 April 1932, page 13.
“Amant Centre opens,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 May 1974, page 27.
“St. Vital will staff St. Amant’s,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 December 1974, page 12.
“St. Vital S.D. No. 6,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 June 1976, page 61.
“St. Vital School Div No. 6,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 May 1983, page 33.
“High hopes for integrated program,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly South Edition, 23 August 1987, page 12.
“Military rides to the rescue with cash for bus,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 June 1993, page B3.
“Gathering garden,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 2005, page B4.
We thank Jack Fraser for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 30 November 2017
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