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Prepared September, 1992 - Updated 2010
In 1911, the Winnipeg School Board purchased a block of property located on Machray, Church, Andrews and McGregor Streets. On this property three different Ralph Brown School buildings have been erected over the years. The first Ralph Brown School was built in 1918 on Andrews Street as a temporary structure of twelve classrooms at a cost of $32,000.00. Originally the school was called Andrews School. It was renamed Ralph Brown School in honour of Major Ralph Russell James Brown, former principal of Somerset School for 12 years. Ralph Brown School No. 1 was demolished in 1935. In 1919 a second Ralph Brown School was built on the opposite side of the property at 485 McGregor Street. The one storey building, constructed at the cost $65,837 by Sutherland Construction Company was made of more substantial material than the first structure. The school opened in October 1919 and the official opening ceremonies were held in December 1919. The school had twelve classrooms and they remained in use until June 1989. The first principal of Ralph Brown School was Mr. W.N. Denike, a well-known educator in Winnipeg. Mr. Denike remained principal of the school until 1936. An article regarding the demolition of Ralph Brown School built in 1920 appeared in The North Times in 1989, written by former student now journalist, Vince Leah. Mr. Leah spoke highly of his former principal. “W.D.N. Denike was the principal, a man for all seasons to borrow from the poet. I had hoped that a new school in the post-Second World War era or at least a street would remember this remarkable man. The education of the young was his whole life.” In 1960, two classrooms and a gymnasium were added to the existing building. In 1964 declining enrolment left one vacant classroom. It was used for a group of 9 to 11 children for the North Winnipeg area who needed special assistance in Basic English and continued until 1974 when the classroom was converted to a music room. In 1976, when it was rumoured that Ralph Brown School was one of the schools that could be closed the parents surveyed the attendance area and established that there would be an increase in the number of children attending the school in the near future due to the predicted sale of homes by elderly people. A few years later the school population had risen sufficiently to warrant keeping the school open. In 1979, Ralph Brown was designated as the Ukrainian Bilingual School in the Winnipeg School Division. Since that time classes have been provided in Ukrainian (K-8) and English (N-6). During the 1988-1989 school year, staff and students celebrated the school’s heritage through special projects and activities. In June of 1989, the school at 485 McGregor Street closed its doors. In September 1989, students of Ralph Brown School began a new fall term in a new building at 460 Andrews Street. Funding in the amount of $2,392,552 was provided by the Public Schools Finance Board ($2,114,552.00) and the City of Winnipeg ($277,000.00). The architects were the Prairie Partnership Architects and the contractor was Red Lake Construction Co. Ltd. At the school’s 50th Anniversary in 1970, Vince Leah wrote that Ralph Brown has had many excellent principals, teachers and students who gave the school “its tradition of fair play and hard work” and that for many “Ralph Brown always will demand a special corner in our hearts.”
Ralph Russell James Brown
Ralph Brown was the son of Charles Thomas Brown of Owen Sound, Ontario, and Lavinia Harriet Thompson of Mimico, Ontario. Both parents were of Empire Loyalist stock. Ralph was born in Barrie, Ontario.
He came to Winnipeg with his father and mother when he was five years old. Brown graduated from Wesley College, later known as the University of Winnipeg, winning the Governor General’s Medal, and leading his class at the Normal School that same year. From 1902 - 1914 he was principal of the newlybuilt Somerset School at Sherbrook Street at Notre Dame Avenue. Along with the regular studies there was good training in music. It was a delight to hear him singing with his own class. His school was the first to give Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. While Lieutenant in the 90th Regiment (Little Black Devils, L.B.D.) he was chosen as one of the officers of the Western Infantry Contingent to the Quebec Tercentenary. As a Captain in the 90th Regiment Winnipeg Rifles, he drilled the young men.
In July, 1913 he married Miss Belle Cameron, young daughter of Dr. Ewan Cameron of Elyria, Ohio, formerly of Boston, Mass. Miss Cameron was the Art Supervisor in the Winnipeg Public Schools (1908 - 1913), and later, (1920 - 1943). There were two daughters, Eleanor and Isabel. While he was on holiday at Nipigon, Ontario, war was declared in August, 1914. Ralph immediately returned to Winnipeg and enlisted, leaving for England October 18th, 1915, as Major in the 44th Battalion. At Branshott Camp, he was Musketry Instructor. In France he saw active service at Mons and Vimy Ridge and he was wounded at Passchendaele October 28th, 1917 and died October 30th, 1917. His men spoke highly of him, and his Chaplain said that Major R.R.J. Brown was fearless, always thinking of others, a Christian gentleman, as well as a brave and conscientious soldier. To quote Page 128, History of the 44th Battalion: “Enemy air raids a nightly occurrence. The German planes came over in bunches. Major R.R.J. Brown of the 44the, Area Commander of the Fourth Division, with his characteristic contempt of personal danger, continued to live in a tent despite the fact that other Divisional officers sought the protection of re-inforced cellars. One night he was hit by the flying fragment of an aerial bomb. He died two days later. So passed a very gallant gentleman, whose work and influence, particularly in the early history of the 44th, have been of inestimable value to the Battalion.” Before he went to England in 1915, he had passed his law exams, and would have been admitted to the Bar had he lived. His name is on the Honor Roll of the Manitoba Law Society.
Learn more about Ralph Brown here.
• Opened: 1918
• Name: Andrews School
• Renamed: Andrews No. 1
Renamed: Ralph Brown School No. 1 (1921)
• Address: Andrews Street
• Contractor: Sutherland Construction Co.
• Cost: $32,000
• Official opening: December 1919
• Occupied: October 1919
Name: Andrews School No. 2
Renamed: Ralph Brown School No. 2 (1921)
• Address: 485 McGregor street
• Contractor: Sutherland Construction Co.
• Cost: $65,837
• No. of rooms: 12
Demolished: Summer, 1989
Addition: 1960 (Demolished)
• Contractor: Ole’s Construction Co.
• Contract: $75,361
• Actual: $72,119 (penalty clause)
• No. of rooms: 2 & general purpose room (gymnasium)
• Official Opening: October 23, 1989
• Occupied: September, 1989
• Address: 460 Andrews Street
• Architect: The Prairie Partnership Architects
• Contractor: Red Lake Construction Co. Ltd.
• Cost: $2,392,552
• Funding: Public Schools Finance Board -
$2,115,552; City of Winnipeg - $277,000
• Size: 3250 square metres
• No. of rooms: 15 classrooms, library, multi-purpose/ music room, gym, miscellaneous support space and community centre
• No. of Rooms: six classrooms added