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Sir Sam Steele School

15 Chester Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/11/25

Primary elevation, from the northeast, of Sir Sam Steele School, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2007
Primary Elevation
Detail of Sir Sam Steele School, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2007
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Other Name(s)

Sir Sam Steele Elementary School
Old Sir Sam
École élémentaire Sir Sam Steele
Vieux Sir Sam
Sir Sam Steele School

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1921/01/01 to 1921/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Sir Sam Steele School, a one-storey brick and concrete structure built in 1921 and later expanded, occupies a spacious yard on the corner of a major thoroughfare in a mixed-use area of northeast Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

Sir Sam Steele School, an attractive Collegiate Gothic building, is a rare remaining example of a series of bungalow-style facilities built by the Winnipeg School Division in 1918-21 to house a fast-growing student population. The elongated one-storey structure, based on a standardized plan by J.N. Semmens that was used with slight variations for three new elementary schools in 1921, combines excellence in design with economy in construction and operation. Subdued yet dignified and demonstrably safe for its young charges, the building features exterior walls of red brick with contrasting limestone details, elegant Gothic porches, large classroom windows, well-placed corridors and doorways, and a layout suited to future expansion (aesthetically compatible wings added in 1957). Named after an early Canadian police and military figure, the school is a fine local landmark that also buffers an area of older modest houses from adjacent commercial development.

Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, November 25, 1997

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Sir Sam Steele School site include:
- the corner location at northeast Nairn Avenue and Chester Street on the periphery of an older residential neighbourhood
- the building's orientation, facing a treed boulevard and houses (west) and an open grassy playing field
- the grassed front yard, with large trees and a flagpole, and the fenced playing field

Key exterior elements that define the school's functional Collegiate Gothic design include:
- the long, low single-storey rectangular form, symmetrically composed
- the relatively smooth walls of variegated red tapestry brick that climb from a concrete foundation to a stone-capped parapet and flat roof
- the abundant fenestration, including tall flat-headed groups of multi-paned classroom windows with transoms and white-painted wood casings, smaller cloakroom lights, panelled wood and glass doors etc.
- the stately Gothic porches, adorned at the front (west side) with stepped gables, buttresses and double doors recessed in pointed arches of finely sculpted stone and angled brick
- the restrained yet attractive detailing, including the smooth-cut limestone base, upper belt course, coping, buttress offsets, front shields with Latin crosses, the stylized brick and stone parapet finials, etc.
- the 1957 end additions (north gymnasium, south classrooms) of sympathetic scale, materials and design

Key elements that define the school's interior character include:
- the 1921 layout of six classrooms off a double-loaded corridor, with offices, a library and washrooms on the ends and entrance halls running across for easy exit
- the durable, economical finishes, including dark wood trim, terrazzo floors, etc.




Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1957/01/01 to 1957/12/31

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type



Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer

J.N. Semmens



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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