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Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Joseph’s Orphanage / St. Joseph’s Vocational School (1476 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg)

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

By 1906, the Sisters of Charity sought to expand capacity from their limited space next to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in downtown Winnipeg and a several-acre site west of Omands Creek, near St. James, was secured for a new the St. Joseph’s Orphanage.

Architectural plans for the three-storey structure were drawn up by Sam Hooper and Charles Henry Walker and it was built by Desrouchers & Company. Its exterior featured a brick veneer and stone trim, with the original building being 60 feet by 50 feet. Within were dining quarters, a chapel, classroom, sewing room, kitchen, laundry as well as separate dormitory quarters for the children and Sisters on the second and third floors. It was completed at a cost of $48,000, with $5,000 provided by the province, $1,000 by the city, and the rest financed through private donation and subscription. It opened around May 1907.

In 1909, the site was further enlarged with the addition of a 80 foot by 40 foot and 20 foot by 25 foot three-storey expansion based upon the designs of A. Lusignan and built by day labourers. The new building replaced a former log rectory at the site and was completed at a cost of $28,000.

On 29 September 1937, a bronze plaque commemorating Mary Corwin Russell was unveiled by John MacGregor (President, Children’s Aid Society of Winnipeg) and affixed within the main hall.

On 1 August 1938, the orphanage was taken over by the Sisters of Providence (of Kingston, Ontario) under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg and renamed the St. Joseph’s Vocational School. Former staff quarters at the site were converted to a school in time for the 1939-1940 school year. Classes were taught under the jurisdiction of the Winnipeg School Division, known as St. Joseph’s School. The school closed in 1979. Demolition got underway in October 1979 but was soon interrupted because the building had not been delisted from the city’s historic inventory. It was duly removed and the building was demolished later that year.

Principals

Period

Principal

1939-1948

Beatrice Rose Ashton (1915-1992)

1948-1949

Thelma Rose Irene Osman (1922-2018)

1949-1950

Catherine Bunten Makepeace Copes (1921-2007)

1950-1953

Donald Arthur Schmidt

1953-1954

Elmer Leroy Wice (c1914-1996)

1954-1964

Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (1898-1965)

1965

Eugene Alfred Sigfusson

1965-1971

James Arthur Hall (c1923-1994)

Teachers

School Year

Teachers

1939-1940

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Roland Lucie Carriere (kindergarten), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-3)

1940-1941

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-3)

1941-1942

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-2), Mary Gowdie (grade 1)

1942-1943

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-2), Mary Gowdie (grade 1)

1943-1944

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-2), Mary Gowdie (grade 1)

1944-1945

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-5), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-3), Mary Gowdie (grade 1), Alice Lena Picard (grades 2-3)

1945-1946

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 4-6), Agnes Theresa Connelly, D. Jones, Stella A. Marshall (grade 1), Alice Lena Picard

1946-1947

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3, 5-6), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grade 2), Stella A. Marshall (grade 1), Anne Nedotafko (grades 3-4)

1947-1948

Beatrice Rose Ashton (grades 3-6), Agnes Theresa Connelly (grades 1-2), Alice Lena Picard (grades 2-3)

1948-1949

Katherina B. MacDonell (grades 1-2), Thelma Rose Irene Osman (grades 4-6), Alice Lena Picard (grades 2-4)

1949-1950

Katherina B. MacDonell (grades 1-2), Catherine Bunten Makepeace (grades 4-6), Alice Lena Picard (grades 1-7)

1950-1951

Katherina B. MacDonell (grades 1-2), Alice Lena Picard (grades 1-4), Donald Arthur Schmidt (grades 4-6)

1951-1952

Katherina B. MacDonell (grades 1-2), Alice Lena Picard (grades 1-4), Donald Arthur Schmidt (grades 4-6)

1952-1953

Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-4), Luella Bertha Martin (grades 1-2), Miss M. A. Naylen, Donald Arthur Schmidt (grades 4-6)

1953-1954

Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-4), Vivian Anne Owens (grades 1-2), Elmer Leroy Wice (grades 4-6)

1954-1955

May Margaret Henderson (grades 3-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-6), R. E. Meyers, Vera Audrey Rogerson (grades 1-2)

1955-1956

Marion Alberta Hoegi (grades 1-2), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-6)

1956-1957

Marion Alberta Hoegi (grades 1-2), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-6)

1957-1958

Marion Alberta Hoegi (grades 1-2), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 3-6)

1958-1959

Hazel A. Foster (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7)

1959-1960

Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7), Mary Ann Monkman (grades 1-4)

1960-1961

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7)

1961-1962

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7)

1962-1963

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7)

1963-1964

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 5-7)

1964-1965

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-4), Elizabeth Ewing Oakes Laing (grades 4-6, 1964), Eugene Alfred Sigfusson (grades 4-6, 1965)

1965-1966

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1966-1967

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1967-1968

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1968-1969

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1969-1970

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1970-1971

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), James Arthur Hall (grades 4-6)

1971-1972

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), ?

1972-1973

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), ?

1973-1974

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), ?

1974-1975

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), ?

1975-1976

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), Eileen Elizabeth Coulter (grades 4-6)

1976-1977

Angeline Grace Clairmont (grades 1-3), Eileen Elizabeth Coulter (grades 4-6)

1977-1978

?

1978-1979

?

Photos & Coordinates

Aerial view of the St. Joseph's Orphanage

Aerial view of the St. Joseph's Orphanage (1923)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Surveys Branch aerial photographs (A 0262), GR11610, FA 23 - 53.

Aerial view of the St. Joseph's Orphanage

Aerial view of the St. Joseph's Orphanage (1962)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Government Photographs (CH 0267), GR3552, 62-1769.

St. Joseph's Orphanage

St. Joseph’s Orphanage (1960s)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Architectural Survey - Winnipeg, Portage Avenue, No. 58/69.

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.88030, W97.19609
denoted by symbol on the map above

Sources:

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 28 April 1899, page 4.

“St Mary’s presbytery [...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 15 June 1899, page 8.

“The new home for the Rev. Fathers connected with the St. Mary’s church [...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 20 December 1899, page 8.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 August 1900, page 2.

“Orphanage fire,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 March 1903, page 5.

“Plans for the construction of a new edifice,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 June 1906, page 7.

“Donation from Strathcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 March 1906, page 1.

“Finance committee,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 March 1906, page 4.

“Generous donations,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 September 1906, page 10.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 December 1906, page 38.

“Women’s work,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 January 1907, page 6.

“Labor of love of devoted Sisters,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 February 1907, page 1.

“Social side of city life [Owing to Miss Champion's illness ...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 May 1907, page 5.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 June 1907, page 4.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 November 1907, page 27.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 May 1909, page 1.

“Building permits,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 June 1909, page 1.

“New buildings,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 October 1909, page 15.

“Fire halls to be built,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 February 1910, page 2.

“Unfortunate tots start life anew in orphanage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 April 1927, page 3.

“Children lose clothing in orphanage fire,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 August 1929, page 1.

“Orphans lose winter clothing,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 August 1929, page 2.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage offers to donate land,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 September 1931, page 3.

“St. Joseph’s Orphanage gives home to 140 boys,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 September 1932, page 2.

“Children’s Aid honors late board member,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 30 September 1937, page 2.

“Plaque unveiled at St. Joseph’s to Mrs. Russell,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 1937, page 7.

“Annual Report of St. Joseph’s Orphanage out,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 December 1937, page 5.

“New staff for R.C. Orphanage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 July 1938, page 8.

“Auxiliary holds reception at St. Joseph’s School to mark Kindergarten opening,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 September 1939, page 9.

“Useful vocations are taught lads of St. Joseph’s School,” by Lillian Gibbons, Winnipeg Tribune, 3 October 1939, page 5.

“Meet the boys of St. Joseph’s Vocational School,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 September 1943, page 2.

“From the sidelines,” by Vince Leah, Winnipeg Tribune, 15 September 1943, page 16.

A History of St. James, Mary Geraldine McCarthy Ferguson, 1967.

Obituary [Alice Lena Picard], Winnipeg Free Press, 12 November 1971, page 23.

“Demolition of school halted,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 October 1979, page 6.

1979 - The Year Past, Report of the City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, City of Winnipeg, page 43.

“Grinch Norrie gives axe to orphans’ Christmas trust fund,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 December 1985, page 1.

Obituary [Angeline Grace Wilkes Clairmont (1913-1989)], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 1989, page 46.

City of Winnipeg Building Permit 2005/1906, City of Winnipeg Archives.

City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1030/1909, City of Winnipeg Archives.

A History of the Archdiocese - Part I - The Catholic Church in Manitoba to 1916, Archdiocese of Winnipeg.

School division half-yearly attendance reports (E 0757), Archives of Manitoba.

Manitoba School Records Collection, St. Joseph’s Vocational School, GR4529, Archives of Manitoba.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 4 January 2022

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