The beginning of John Pritchard School

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John Pritchard School, located at 1490 Henderson Hwy., opened in 1915 and was originally called Lord Kitchener School, in honour of the British military commander until 1967, when it was renamed to honour John Pritchard, an early fur trader and Red River pioneer. The school is located on property formerly owned by Pritchard

According to the Manitoba Historical Society, the original structure was designed by architect John Danley Atchison, built at a cost of $75,000 and consisted of five large classrooms, a large basement, and an auditorium on the second floor with a stage, now the site of the present school library.

The school’s cornerstone ceremony was held May 28, 1915, in front of 500 students from the East Kildonan and North Kildonan area, along with several hundred adults. The cornerstone was laid by Mrs. A. J. McDougall, wife of the secretary-treasurer of the East Kildonan School Board. Taking part in the ceremony were 60 army cadets, each armed with a small rifle. Col. Hosmer of the Canadian Army inspected the cadets. Refreshment for the event was water from the natural spring located in the grove of trees by the riverbank.

John Pritchard School was known as Lord Kitchener School for the first 52 years of its existence.

Placed in a metal box behind the cornerstone were copies of the three daily newspapers, a copy of the Schools Act, Canadian silver coins and the names of King George, the Governor General of Canada, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of Manitoba, the Manitoba Minister of Education, and all members of the school board. This time capsule has never been opened.

The school opened on Sept. 1, 1915, with just one class of 40 students from grades 1 to 4, taught by Miss Daisy Jackson who also served as principal. It was closed for the 1916-17 school year because of a lack of students and as a result the water pipes froze, and some sections had to be repaired. The school reopened the following year but for several years there was often criticism that the building was too large, in the wrong area and built with too many expensive features. For the first few years, the school caretaker lived on the second floor, but he was not allowed to cook in his room and water had to be carried up the stairs from the basement.

By the mid 1930s, the entire building was filled with students ranging from grades 1 through 11, with over 60 students in some classrooms, and the auditorium was used as additional classroom space. The school was expanded in 1947 and a two-storey addition made in 1967. Further expansion came in 1975 and 1985.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Jim Smith is a community correspondent for Elmwood, East Kildonan and North Kildonan. Email him at jimsmith@mts.net

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