Thursday, 23 June 2011

River East Collegiate turns 50 !

This weekend is the 50th anniversary celebration of River East Collegiate ! It's my high school so I thought I would take a look back !

REC N Kildonan map c 1961
R.M. of North Kildonan, ca. 1961

The post war flight to the suburbs swelled the population of municipalities surrounding old Winnipeg including t
he City of East Kildonan and the R.M. of North Kildonan. By the late 1950s major investments in school infrastructure was needed.

In February 1960 rate payers of these two municipalities plus East St. Paul and parts of St. Clements were asked to vote on a total of $1.19 million
( that's $9.2 m in 2011 dollars) in money bylaws for an expansion of Miles Macdonell Collegiate and the construction of a new elementary and high school. They voted 1319 to 244 in favour. (For more on Miles Mac history.)

April 1, 1960, Winnipeg Free Press

The tendering process began on the first day of the new fiscal year.

The architects were
Ward MacDonald Associates. They were likely the official architects of the Department of Education as over a dozen years were responsible for the construction of numerous schools. Inside the city there was William Russell School in St. Boniface (1969), Laidlaw School (1965) and Donwood Elementary (1972). In rural Manitoba they designed Elton Collegiate in Forrest as well as schools in Treherne, Pilot Mound, Glenboro and Cartwright.

Other variations of the partnership constructed
Robson Hall at the U of M and Centennial Library Park (1977).

The tender was soon awarded, though I cannot find who the construction company was. Teachers and support staff were hired over the summer and the school was ready for students in January 1961 with an official opening on February 27.

February 8, 1960, Winnipeg Free Press

The original River East had
15 classrooms and an enrollment of nearly 250 students. Under founding Principal Alexander Smaluk the 1960 - 61 teaching staff consisted of: Irene Isabel Artes; Mary Stevenson; Jacob Regehr; Edward William Kleiman; Hubert William Whitehead; Hugh Russel Makepeace; Joseph John Grenon; Daniel William Doerksen; Lorna Catherine Madill; Hermann Rempel and Donald Ross McMaster. (Source).

As a sign of how rapidly the population was growing, ratepayers were approached just two years later to approve another $650k for an expansion that would add 20 classrooms and shops areas. This more than doubled the size of the school.

River East Collegiate
In 2011 River East Collegiate had an enrollment of 1156 students and a teaching staff of 68.

Some notable events during my era at River East .... (and if you are class of '86 check out the 25th reunion page).

Source: Puttaert's Binders (1983)

1983: Kodiak Football began

1983 - 84: A bizarre faux-prison inspired renovation left the front of the building looking like the rear of a detention centre.

River East Collegiate

1985: The death of Principal J. Bruce Brown of cancer at the age of 45.

For more photos of River East check out my Flickr album.

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