Historic Sites of Manitoba: John Black School (McPhillips Street, Winnipeg)
Built for the West Kildonan School District No. 8 in late 1904 on River Lot No. 26 along the east side of McPhillips Street, in what was at the time the Municipality of Kildonan, John Black School was named in commemoration of cleric John Black. It was opened to provide an education in grades 1 to 8 for the children from nearby dairy farms and market gardens.
The 30 by 30-foot wood frame structure had a single classroom with two entrances facing onto McPhillips, the north one for girls and the south one for boys. Each entrance led to a cloakroom and then into the classroom. There were two rows of windows, one facing east and the other south, with black slate blackboards on the west and north sides of the classroom. The floor consisted of rough, unpainted boards. There was no basement and the classroom was heated by a single, wood-burning stove near the back of the room. The schoolyard was enclosed by wire fencing and a water pump was situated south of the school building. Classes began at the school in February 1905. The school was staffed by one teacher, save for brief periods in 1923 and again 1953-1954, when two teachers provided instruction. In January 1923, the school came under the newly created Old Kildonan School District No. 2102, to which it remained.
In 1951, voters of Old Kildonan approved a $45,000 bylaw for a new one-room building to replace the original John Black School, as well as changes to Lloyd George School. Designed by the architectural firm of Prain and Ward, construction of the new building beside the old school was completed by the fall of 1952. The old school was sold around 1953 and moved to Lot 26, near Red River School on Scotia Street, where it was converted into a residential workshop. There, on 10 November 1963, it was destroyed by fire. The John Black School operated until closing in the summer of 1959. The second one-room schoolhouse was then moved to the grounds of Centennial School and again used as classroom space before later being utilized for janitorial storage.
Photos & Coordinates
“North End notes,” Manitoba Free Press, 10 September 1906, page 11.
“Wanted - teacher for the John Black School,” Manitoba Free Press, 17 August 1907, page 28.
“Christmas Tree at West Kildonan,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 December 1914, page 12.
“An album of Winnipeg women,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 June 1935, page 11.
“Deanna Durbin contributes,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1941, page 3.
“Returning teacher honored at party by former pupils,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1950, page 2.
“Rural Municipality of Old Kildonan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1951, page 20.
“Tender,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 June 1952, page 35.
“Old Kildonan School District No. 2102,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 June 1952, page 24.
“Sale of buildings,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 April 1953, page 35.
“Old Kildonan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 August 1955, page 3.
“Kildonan School burns,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 November 1963, page 4.
A Historical Study of Public Education in West Kildonan to 1959 by Raymond Ronald Bailey, MEd thesis, University of Manitoba, 1966.
Obituary [Charles James Bowman], Winnipeg Free Press, 26 February 1985, page 43.
School division half-yearly attendance reports (E 0757), Archives of Manitoba.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
We thank Jeannette Timmerman and Judy Herscovitch for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 8 August 2021