Historic Sites of Manitoba: Austin School No. 154 (Austin, Municipality of North Norfolk)
The Austin School District was established formally in May 1884 and it began operation the next year. A school building was located about one and a half miles southeast of Austin, in the Rural Municipality of North Norfolk. In 1891, a one-room schoolhouse was built in town. It was replaced in 1905 by a two-storey, two-classroom brick building, built on a design by Brandon architect William Nicholson Lailey.
The school had expanded to three classrooms by 1923 and another room was added in 1931. The school expanded again in the 1950s with another classroom, with a teaching staff of eight. It became a consolidated school when, in 1965, it merged with rural schools from the surrounding vicinity: Forestville School No. 656, Norfolk School No. 897, Orangeville School No. 1011, Ravenshoe School No. 1261, and Springbrook School No. 566. The consolidated school became part of the Pine Creek School Division in 1968.
The old brick school was closed in June 1974, having accommodated students in kindergarten to grade 6 for the last six years of its operation. The building was demolished later that year. During demolition, the building caught fire and burned. A monument, constructed by John Seaman (whose wife Marjorie had taught at the school), was erected on the former school site around 1980. It was replaced by a plaque affixed to a boulder in 2015.
Among the early teachers who worked at Austin School were: Miss Baird (1884, wife of William Cairns), D. W. Broadfoot (Spring-Fall 1885), John McLean (Spring 1886), Caroline Sparling (Fall 1886), Lauchlin McQuarrie (Spring 1887 - pt Fall 1888, died before term end), Margaret Campbell (Spring-Fall 1889), D. C. McKillok (Spring-Fall 1890), Kate Cox (Spring 1891), Fannie Walls (Fall 1891), and Annie Baird (Spring-Fall 1892).
Other teachers who worked at Austin School through the years included: Henry J. Everall (1908-1910), Laura J. Ronrig (1908-1909), Kate S. Ball (1909-1910), James Cameron (1910-1912), Gertrude Macdougall (1910-1914), Kathleen Johnson (1913-1914), Robert Williamson (1914-1915), Cordelia Mackay (1914), M. A. Dixon (1915), Grace Huntley (1915-1916), Edith Andrew (1915-1916), Arthur E. Cooke (1916-1917), Anna Stewart (1916-1917), L. C. Anderson (1917), Myrtle McQueen (1917-1918), L. Baldwin (1917), Ethel Collier (1917-1918), Miss McIntosh (1918-1920), Edith L. Cusack (1920-1921), Dorothy Mutch (1920-1921), F. E. Bowsfield (1920-1921), Jean M. Avery (1921-1923), Edith Gair (1921-1922), E. Birch (1921), Mary R. Russell (1921-1922), Olive Erickson (1922-1924), Alice M. Pieper (1923-1924), Ida C. Graham (1924-1927), Wilfrid G. Booth (1924-1927), Frances M. Jones (1924-1926), Mary C. Campbell (1926-1927), Mary Cameron Cowan (1928-1938), Mary I. Morris (1928-1933), Keith Alexander Booth (1929-1931), Peter M. Livingstone (1933-1937), Phyllis C. Mitchell (1936-1937), John L. Holmes (1937-1938), Audrey M. Poyser (1937-1943, 1947-1948), Barbara Anna Robinson (1938-1942), Dorothy P. Fraser (1938-1939), Jean Gertrude Lennox (1939), Hannah Margaret Robinson (1939-1940), Eleanor Lavinea Brown (1941), Anita O. Heim (1942-1944), Margaret Anderson (1943), Jane Frances Fillmore BA (1943), Thelma Rose Irene Osman (1943-1946), Margaret Mary Brown (1943-1947), Alice P. Hardisty (1944-1945), Irene Rosemary Feher (1945), Eva Eileen Duncan (1945), Roland Gauntron (1946), Lois M. Harkness (1947), Jean D. Hotel (1948), Peter Black (1948-1951), Gerald Lionel Kuran (1949-1950), Lydia P. Harvey (1948-1950), Wilma Stock (1950), Patricia Duncan (1951-1954), Mary J. Roy (1951), Mary Stimpson (1952-1953), Doreen Miller (1952-1953), Sheena H. Williams (1953-1955), Robena S. Lowe (1953-1954), Edith Cronk (1954-1955), L. W. Stephens (1954-1955), A. J. Polz (1954-1955), Leona D. Riddell (1955-1956), Kathleen A. Dennis (1955-1957), Gilbert E. Brown (1955-1959), B. Trudeau (1955-1956), Christina Whyte (1956), John Naherney (1956), Mrs. Marjorie E. Seaman (1956-1960), C. Joan Whyte (1957-1959), G. Raymer (1957-1959), Nancy A. Wilson (1958-1961), Marguerite Willis (1958-1960), Norma Jorgenson (1959-1960), Myrna Peck Williams (1959-1965), Gertrude Tait (1959-1962), Ralph Rabinovitch (1959-1960), Marjorie E. Manns (1960-1964), Anne Zamrykut (1961-1962), Eunice Stephenson (1961-1962), Grace H. Hay (1962-1965), Beryl E. Dennis (1962-1965), Margaret M. Peacock (1962-1964), Miss Graham (1964), Glen Lowe (1964-1965), Gertrude McGregor (1964-1965), Miss Mary Jane Brewster (1965), Miss Karen Armstrong (1965), Miss Marlene Dilk (1965).
Photos & Coordinates
Death registration [Lauchlin McQuarrie], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Board of Education registers (A 0050), GR7643, Archives of Manitoba.
Summative half-yearly returns for school districts (A 0051), GR0571, Archives of Manitoba.
“The Indian famine fund,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 March 1897, page 4.
“The Austin School re-opened [...],” MacGregor Herald, 4 January 1940, page 5.
Annual Reports of the Manitoba Department of Education, Manitoba Legislative Library.
A Rear View Mirror: A History of the Austin and Surrounding Districts by Anne M. Collier, Altona: Friesen Printing, 1967.
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.
Through Fields and Dreams: A History of the Rural Municipality of North Norfolk and MacGregor by The History Book Committee of the North Norfolk-MacGregor Archives, 1998, pages 841-844.
We thank Neil Christoffersen, Jacquie Jones, and Gordon Booth for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 11 September 2023