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MATHESON ISLAND SCHOOL, MB: MONTH-LONG BWA EXPECTED TO BE LIFTED THIS WEEK FOR THIS HISTORIC BUILDING
By Suzanne Forcese
On an island located at the narrows of Lake Winnipeg, a small community (population 117) is connected to the mainland by the Ingemar Carlson II Ferry, or in the winter months by a winter road.
Its location on Lake Winnipeg has given Matheson Island and its people a rich history for over 100 years that continues to this time.
The Matheson Island School also has a story that is founded on the determination of the community’s residents in overcoming the obstacles of the time – namely the lack of government support.
Built in 1924 and considered an “Orphan School” because it was cut off from regular outside contacts and not supported by a tax base. Photo – Manitoba Archives
When Matheson Island was to be surveyed in 1918, the residents requested land for a school. Lot 20, a plot of 2.97 acres was set aside.
The Manitoba Government of the day considered that “citizens who paid no taxes were not entitled to government services.”
C.K. Rogers of the Department of Education (1929-1959) felt strongly that all children in Manitoba deserved an education but was unable to convince the government to set aside funding for the orphan school. Taking surplus funds from the Department’s supply budget (which normally paid for paper, chalk and desks), teachers were paid to teach in the Northern Manitoba Orphan School.
The present school was built for grades 3-9 with grades K-2 remaining in the old building.
WATERTODAY spoke with Karla Scott about a month-long Boil Water Advisory that was placed on the school.
“Our UV system was leaking but has now been repaired.” Scott said she had sent in a water sample last week and the second this week. “We expect to be in the all clear this week.”
The 17 students (nursery to Grade 9) and 5 staff members have been supplied with bottled water.
As for COVID, “We’re pretty lucky here. We are isolated as it is so everyone remains healthy. It’s good here.”
Nonetheless masks and social distancing are mandatory throughout the community.
Keeping tradition alive is the backbone of Matheson Island’s optimism.
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