Historic Sites of Manitoba: East Nairn School No. 42 (RM of Portage la Prairie)

The Nairn School District was established in March 1877 in what would later become the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. A schoolhouse was constructed at SW10-12-6W on land provided by farmer James Whimster but it had to be moved in 1881 when it was found to be on the right-of-way for the Canadian Pacific Railway that was under construction at that time. In September 1881, farmer George Adams sold 1½ acre of his land, at the north end of Parish Lot 134, to the school district and the building was moved there the following month. It was destroyed by fire in early 1890 so classes were held in Adams’ house until a replacement building could be constructed by George Burkell of High Bluff, just east of the burned structure.

During the early 1950s, a marked increase in student enrollment led the school trustees to build a second school on Parish Lot 126 west of the original school site. It became known as West Nairn School. Both schools operated for 12 years. In June 1963, East Nairn School closed and the remaining students were bused to West Nairn School. The building was sold and moved to house students in grades 7 and 8 of East Prospect School. The west school closed in 1966 and henceforth students went to school in Portage la Prairie.

Among the noteworthy pupils of Nairn School were Dr. Hugh Stewart, teacher Agnes Bannerman (Principal, East Ward School), and federal politician Walter Adam Tucker (1899-1990).

Some of the teachers who worked at Nairn School through the years were Laghlan Galbraith (1880), M. Fletcher, Miss Campbell (1884), Dr. Hugh Stewart (1886), I. McInnes, Angus McVicar (1887), Mary Scott, John Morrison, Gertie McGee, Maggie Mackie, G. C. Nesbitt, George C. M. Booth (1893), Alex Armstrong, Hugh McKenzie, Sybil Macmorine (1899), Bella Greenlay (1901), F. R. Phillips, Elizabeth McLean, Margaret Grant, Perley A. Murphy, Maude Santelmann, Garfield Rice, Barbara MacLean, Sidney Gardner, Phernie Roy, Leonard Mcquay, Hazel Martin, Ernest G. Smith, Winnifred Henderson, Margaret Rennie, Margaret Demman, Florence Dreweatt, Winnifred MacKenzie, Muriel Moore, Anna Alice Hulme, Olive Bowes, Olive Kathleen Bowes, Elizabeth McLaren, Anne Foster, Ella Earls, Betty Cook, Betty McIntosh, Lucelle Blair, Catherine Dyck, Verla Loney (first teacher of West Nairn), Geraldine Thompson, Margaret Mann, Martha Holovach, Irene Hajlaz, Anne Young, Mary Hanneson, Lesia Case, Edith Lamont, Esther McDonald, Linda Rusnak (last teacher at East Nairn), and Mrs. Fingas (last teacher at West Nairn).

Nairn School

Nairn School (no date) by A. B. Fallis
Source: Archives of Manitoba, School Inspectors Photographs,
GR8461, A0233, C131-1, page 15.

Nairn School commemorative monument

Nairn School commemorative monument (March 2016)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.98977, W98.21170
denoted by symbol on the map above


Cummin’s Rural Directory Map for Manitoba published by the Cummins Map Company, 404 Chambers of Commerce, Winnipeg, 1923. [Copies held by Edward M. Ledohowski and Gordon Goldsborough]

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.

Rural Schools of Portage la Prairie School Division #24 by Muriel Wright, 1996.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 March 2021

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