Description of Historic Place
The Manitoba School for the Deaf is a sprawling multi-storey complex that includes a main building and a dining hall constructed in 1921-22. The school is in the Tuxedo area of southwest Winnipeg surrounded by residential, institutional and recreational development. The provincial designation applies to the two buildings and their grounds.
The Manitoba School for the Deaf is one of the province's most impressive examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture. Situated on an expansive campus, the complex is characterized by steep rooflines, towers, arched entrances, buttresses, battlements, intricate stone ornamentation and spacious well-lit interiors. From its design by respected Winnipeg architect John D. Atchison to its fine materials and craftsmanship, the school exudes a commitment to detail and the well being of the deaf pupils it housed from across the Prairies. It was an innovative and expensive facility for its era, noted especially as one of the institutions constructed by the government, which was becoming increasingly committed to addressing the needs of citizens, especially children with impairments, through modern, dignified facilities such as this. The site has been maintained continuously as a place of learning, most recently as part of the Canadian Mennonite University.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, October 26, 1996
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Manitoba School for the Deaf site include:
- its location at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Shaftesbury Boulevard in southwest Winnipeg
- the sprawling well-groomed grounds with mature trees, large grassed expanses and fields, formal walkways and loop driveways, informal courtyards formed by the building wings, etc.
Key exterior elements that define the impressive Collegiate Gothic design and stonework of the school's main building include:
- the sprawling three- and four-storey massing, based on a formal H-shaped plan
- the steeply pitched gable roofs punctuated by shed and gable wall dormers, raised gable ends, towers, and stout, ornate spirelets
- the elongated facades of rusticated Manitoba limestone laid in straight courses with smooth-cut details, including sloped window sills, weather-tables, off-sets and embrasures
- the looming four-storey-plus embattled towers on the east and west elevations, the former coupled with an octagonal corner turret; also, the smaller square towers and embattled porches on other elevations and two octagonal turrets at the complex's northeast corner
- the extensive fenestration throughout, composed of rectangular multi-paned windows, many in pairs or banks of three, four or six openings with transoms, slender stone mullions and Gibbs surrounds, including some in double-height crenellated bay windows, and on the north elevation openings of smaller dimensions than those used elsewhere
- the entrances marked by decorative moulded compound Tudor arches, most set around double wood and glass doors with sidelights and multi-paned transom windows, and further highlighted by labels, fancifully carved panels, period light fixtures, etc.
- features and details such as stepped-back buttresses, stone staircases, limestone coping, exposed carved wooden rafter ends, ornate drain spouts, etc., and on the east tower appointments such as a label with grotesques and pinnacles, provincial shields and a large quatrefoil emblem in the parapet
Key elements that define the buildings' spacious interior layouts and fine finishes and details include:
- the main building's two-storey chapel/auditorium, with a stage, carved wooden proscenium depicting provincial shields, large balcony, intact wooden pews, beamed ceiling, period light fixtures, etc.
- some intact classrooms featuring crown mouldings, cove ceilings, blackboards, etc.
- the details and finishes, including a profusion of entrances once used to separate female and male students, limestone staircases and Tudor arches, barrel-vaulted main-floor corridors with floriated ribs, ornate cast-iron radiators, emergency strobe lights, a massive wood reception desk with burlap inserts, rich wooden doors and mouldings throughout, etc.