Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site No. 119

Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School
(Rufus Prince Building)
River Lot 51, Crescent Road, Portage la Prairie

Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School
Designation Date: April 12, 2005
Designation Authority: The Honourable Eric Robinson,
Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage
Present Owner: Long Plain First Nation

This is the oldest existing example in Manitoba of a system of boarding schools for Aboriginal children which was created across Canada between 1883‑1960.  Financed by the Canadian government, and operated by Canadian churches, the system included 16 schools in Manitoba. As day schools on the reserves improved, residential schools ceased operations, the last Manitoba institution closing in 1988.

Built in 1916, the Portage school is a good example of prevailing ideas concerning residential school design. The building has grand and impressive facades, composed with a restrained classical vocabulary. Inside, more functional spaces provided rooms for girls’ and boys’ classrooms and dormitories, as well as recreation spaces, infirmaries and a variety of offices. The site, which like most residential schools, was developed to provide instruction on farming and domestic work and still maintains its original quality.