Historic Sites of Manitoba: Aikins House / Riverbend School for Girls / Balmoral Hall (630 Westminster Avenue, Winnipeg)

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

When James Albert Manning Aikins died in 1929, he stipulated in his will that his former residence, built in 1901 by Davidson Brothers, be used as a school for girls, and bequeathed a further amount for its upkeep. His son, Gordon Harold Aikins, also presented his own home (the Red House) to the school. As a result, Riverbend School for Girls, named after the first building, was opened in September 1929 at the present site of Balmoral Hall School. The Aikins House is a municipally-designated historic site.

In 1930, a new two-storey 44 feet by 92 feet building of cut stone and white brick was added to the northeast side of the existing structure, to which it was connected. Built by Fraser and MacDonald, the expansion cost some $70,000 and contained six classrooms, gymnasium, music hall, dining room, kitchen, and shower baths. The school was operated by the United Church of Canada.

In 1950, Riverbend School for Girls amalgamated with the Rupert’s Land Girls’ School (previously known as Havergal College of Winnipeg). The amalgamated entity was known briefly as Rupert’s Land - Riverbend Girls School. A vote was held and the newly unified school, at the time of its opening in September 1950, was renamed Balmoral Hall School for Girls. A senior school wing was added in 1954, replacing the 122 Carlton Street location, and further capacity was added in 1961, with the opening of a new two-storey expansion. The building cost $300,000 and hosted drawing rooms, classrooms, and residences for 60 students. It was officially opened by Lieutenant-Governor Errick French Willis on 22 September 1961 and named in commemoration of Mary Jane Dalton, the first Principal of Havergal College. The structure replaced the function of the existing Red House.

Board of Governors Chairs




Gordon Harold Aikins (1887-1954)

Principals / Headmistresses


Principal / Headmistress


See Havergal College / Rupert’s Land Girls’ School


Joan Mary Vassie Foster (1900-1969)


Jessie Mary Carter (1882-1984)


Gwendolyn Murrell-Wright (1908-1984)


Harriet Maud Perry Lederman (1914-2001)


R. Martin Kenney (1932-2010)


N. Thomas “Tom” Russell


E. G. “Ted” Staunton


Brian Porter


Diane Bieber


Claire Sumerlus


Linda Schwartz


Joanne Kamins

Teachers (partial list)

School Year





Laura Cull (Principal, Junior School), Mary Matheson (Principal, Kindergarten School)




Laura Cull (Principal, Junior School), Marian Macdougall (Science), Mary Chestnut (Latin), Beatrice Wilson (Scripture), Gwendolyn Bowman (Physical Education and Dancing)


Miss M. Floyd Stephens BA (German and French), Mary E. White (Latin), Florence Mews (Physical Education, Outdoor Activities/Sports, and Dancing), Barbara M. Erith BA (English), Beatrice Wilson BA (Scripture and Mathematics), Marian Macdougall BSc (Science and Mathematics), Nina F. Dempsey (Singing and Music Appreciation), Laura Cull (Principal, Junior School), Sadie M. Gregory (Junior School), Verna V. Vaux (Junior School), Mrs. Angus Campbell (Principal, Kindergarten School)


Dorothy Gray Rutherford (Physical Education)




Coralie Fraser (Physical Education)


Ainslie MacKinnon BA (French and German), Lorna McAdoo (Physical Education), Mary Maude McLeod BSc (Household Economics), Edna T. Burns (Grades 5 & 6), Gladys M. Coke BA (Principal, Middle School)






Dorothy Lowman (Physical Education)

Photos & Coordinates

Aikins House, the original Riverbend School for Girls

Aikins House, the original Riverbend School for Girls (circa 1929)
Source: Winnipeg Tribune, 22 June 1929, page 28.

Riverbend School for Girls with 1930 extension at right

Riverbend School for Girls with 1930 extension at right (1930)
Source: Winnipeg Tribune, 16 August 1930, page 2.

The former Aikins House

The former Aikins House (August 2019)
Source: George Penner

Interior of the former Aikins House

Interior of the former Aikins House (August 2019)
Source: George Penner

The 1930s extension

The 1930s extension (August 2019)
Source: George Penner

Interior of the 1930s extension

Interior of the 1930s extension (August 2019)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.88157, W97.15643
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba Organization: Balmoral Hall

Manitoba Business: Fraser and MacDonald

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Riverbend School No. 1176 (RM of Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Balmoral Hall / Balmoral Memorial Centre (Balmoral, RM of Rockwood)


“Permit for Riverbend School annex issued,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 July 1930, page 3.

“Riverbend's new enlargement is near completion,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 August 1930, page 23.

“Riverbend School for Girls to expand teaching service,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 August 1932, page 11.

“Riverbend will open mid month,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 September 1933, page 9.

“Miss Rutherford head of physical education at Riverbend School,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 June 1934, page 7.

“Riverbend School announces new appointments to staff,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 August 1937, page 7.

[Photo caption, Miss Dorothy Lowman], Winnipeg Tribune, 22 August 1940, page 10.

“Retires from Riverbend Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 June 1944, page 7.

“Amalgamated schools post headmistress,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 June 1950, page 3.

“New Headmistress pays first visit to schools,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 June 1950, page 11.

“Balmoral Hall name chosen for school organized on girls school merger,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 September 1950, page 10.

“New residence opened for Balmoral Hall,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 September 1961, page 12.

[Photo caption], Winnipeg Free Press, 11 June 1964, page 13.

Balmoral Hall School (Former Sir J. A. M. Aikins House - "Riverbend") (630 Westminster Avenue), City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings and Resources Committee, May 1999.

Balmoral Hall: 1901-2001 by Murray Peterson, 2001.

Balmoral Hall head quits after less than six months,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 March 2010.

We thank George Penner for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 3 March 2024

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