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Prepared August, 1992 - Updated 2010
In the Annual Report of the Trustees of the School District of Winnipeg No. 1 for the year 1909, the Management Committee reported that an additional school was required in the western part of the city and that a site had been purchased between Burnell and Banning Streets. With the purchase of the Greenway school site (which actually took place in 1908), the school board inaugurated a new system of purchasing school properties. All properties purchased by the school board were done so under the supervision of a special sites committee
The building was to be named Greenway School, after the former Manitoba premier Thomas Greenway (see below). The architect responsible for designing the school was the prolific J.B. Mitchell. Construction was contracted to the J.H. Tremblay Co. with heating and ventilation work by Thompson & Homer Co. The total cost of construction was $91,454.
Upon completion, Greenway was the largest school building in Winnipeg. While only two stories high (40 feet), it was 161 feet long. The building was of solid stone and brick construction, with fire-proof stairways and fully modern in all respects. The school was installed with a Rotrex Vacuum System at an additional cost of $1,388 and was in accordance with the latest ideas in school architecture.
The school was ready for occupancy on Sept. 28, 1909. The building did not include a gymnasium, as many educators at the time felt “a gymnasium does not assist in the work of a school.” Over 50 years later, Greenway finally did get a gymnasium in 1960-61.
In 1919—due to the rapid development of the western part of the city after the First World War and crowded conditions at the school—it became necessary to build a second building on the school grounds. The Greenway No. 2 School bungalow was again designed by J.B. Mitchell. Sutherland Construction built the eight-room, one-storey school at a cost of $59,632.
Up to 1922, Greenway No. 1 was used for elementary grades. Owing to the crowded conditions in the school, some classes were conducted in the upper and lower hallways (which were quite spacious compared to modern standards). Greenway No. 2 was initially used for junior high classes, but the opening of Daniel McIntyre Collegiate made Greenway No. 1 and 2 strictly elementary.
On May 1, 1936 Greenway was immortalized in Canadian history by becoming the first fully organized, officially recognized school safety patrols in the Dominion. Although school safety patrols had existed for some time in Winnipeg, they had been formed in individual schools by their own teachers or principals. Louise Staples was a teacher at Greenway School when she organized one of the first Winnipeg school safety patrols, several months before they were instituted on a city-wide basis in 1936. Requested by the principal to take some action because of the heavy traffic to and from Minto Armoury, she organized a patrol of 14 boys with Douglas McGhee as her first captain. With no financial backing the patrol held a paper drive and a candy sale to pay for red and green felt arm badges. Miss Staples continued her work with patrols at Greenway until 1945 when she was transferred to Hugh John Macdonald which, as a junior high school, had none. Miss Staples retired in 1964 and to commemorate the inauguration of school patrols in 1936, instituted the annual award of a trophy to be given to the most efficient patrol in Winnipeg.
In June of 1994, the Minister of Education announced that a new Greenway School was to be constructed. Stechesen Katz Architects were awarded the task of designing the school, with the Public Schools Finance Board approving the drawings for the 59,550 sq. ft. building in Oct. 1995. The Board of Trustees of the Winnipeg School Division No. 1 recommended Regent Construction Ltd. for the contract in December 1995; construction began in January, 1996 at the south end of the school site and the original 1909, 1919 and 1960 structures were demolished. Students moved into their new school in February, 1997, with official opening ceremonies taking place on Oct. 28, 1997.
In 2009, Greenway School celebrated its centennial with a wide variety of artistic, historical and other curricular projects. Students and staff from the past and present reminisced about all of the school’s incarnations— and looked forward to the century ahead.
The Manitoba Free Press, Saturday, Nov. 11, 1922
“Greenway School: A Construction History” included in program for opening of No. 3 building on Oct. 28, 1997.
Thomas Greenway was one of the very few Manitoba premiers whose memory has been perpetuated in our educational system. His descendants look with pride and fond memories at his name carved in bold letters on one of Winnipeg’s oldest schools.
He was born in Cornwall, Devon, in 1838. Although he migrated with his parents to Western Ontario when he was a small child of six years, he always preserved characteristics and traits that were distinctively English. Such qualities as strength of will, tenacity of purpose, intense sincerity, and high intelligence marked him for greatness.
Since his parents had settled on a farm in the county of Huron in Western Ontario, Thomas attended the country schools in the neighbourhood. His business life began as a general storekeeper in Centralia where he soon displayed a keen interest in the public affairs of the community. In 1867 he was elected reeve of the township of Centralia and held that position for ten years.
His political career began in 1875 when he was elected by acclamation as an independent member of the House of Commons for South Huron. He declined to be re-nominated in 1878, having decided to move to Manitoba where he purchased a farm of about 800 acres near the present town of Crystal City. Interest in public affairs and a desire for political life was as strong in Thomas Greenway in his new home in Manitoba as it had been in Ontario, and in the year following his arrival in Manitoba, he presented himself as a candidate for the Manitoba legislature. He was elected by acclamation for the constituency of Mountain, where he was elected whenever he appealed to the electors during his career in provincial politics. Along with a small band of half a dozen he was arrayed in opposition to the Conservative administration of John Norquay. With his dogged tenacity he soon settled down to a legislative opposition that was at first laughed at but later received support throughout the country from newcomers who were anxious for a change in the methods and policy of the provincial government. Thus he became a potent force in Western Canadian Liberalism. Upon the defeat of the Harrison government in 1888, Mr. Greenway was called upon to form a government, becoming Premier and Minister of Agriculture. During his twelve year regime as Premier of Manitoba several important acts were passed, among which was the provocative act respecting the Department of Education and Public Schools, doing away with separate schools, and making the new system non-sectarian. This act agitated the political world of Canada and made Manitoba the storm centre of politics in the Dominion.
As Minister of Agriculture Thomas Greenway had an absorbing desire for the agricultural progress of western Canada, and encouraged the breeding of high class livestock in Manitoba. It was later said of him that he had never ceased to be a farmer and that his happiest hours were spent on his model farm and among his prize cattle which he introduced to the West.
In 1904 Thomas Greenway again became interested in federal politics and was elected to the House of Commons by the constituency of Lisgar. Four years later he was appointed to the Board of Railway Commissioners as a tribute to his undoubted knowledge of western Canadian conditions, his unquestionable ability, and his years of service to a party which he had led so long in provincial politics. It was the general feeling that he was particularly fitted to give the views of the West on all transportation problems.
Before he had an opportunity to show his capacity in his new public endeavour, he died suddenly in Ottawa in 1908 at the age of 70. Thomas Greenway had belonged to the interesting generation that stayed with the West through its period of doubt and unsolved problems, and had the satisfaction of seeing his faith justified.
What greater monument than a school could have been erected to the memory of this public man who was prominent during the most eventful period of Manitoba’s history.