Writing on the Wall – Portage la Prairie

September 7, 2010

The former Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School, renamed the Rufus Prince building.

A heart sticker near a drain at the former Indian Residential School in Portage la Prairie.

As I’ve mentioned, I spent some time traveling and researching this summer. One stop I have yet to write about is my short visit to Portage la Prairie. Located just an hour or so outside of Winnipeg, I spent a day there after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first national event. While in Portage la Prairie, I visited a former residential school that is now being used as development and tribal offices for the Long Plain First Nation. The school itself is still in good condition, and it had been chosen to house the Indian Residential School Museum of Canada. Originally slated to open in 2008, the Museum unfortunately lost its funding and the project has been put on hold. Some of the archival documents, artwork and photographs are still housed in the school’s basement.

While visiting the school, I was fortunate to have a tour of the grounds. Barb Esau and Robert Peters walked with me through the school. As we walked, they pointed to where the students had showered, where they were sequestered when punished, and where they lined up to eat….

NOTE: I am currently working on writing a longer piece about visiting the school, so I have truncated the version that originally appeared here.

Thank you to Ruth Roulette, Barb Esau, Robert Peters and Angela Roulette for sharing your time, memories and experiences.

9 Responses to “Writing on the Wall – Portage la Prairie”

  1. Hi,
    I found this site very interesting cause my mother taught at this school back in the 1940’s. Her name was Ethel Orvis. She had very fond memories of the school and the students there. She would often tell me stories of the funny things the students did. I still have alot of her photos if anyone would like them. Just email me your request.

  2. Thank for posting your comment! I would be interested in the photos you mentioned, And I’m sure there would be many people interested (including former students of the school) in seeing the photographs and hearing the memories your mother told you. I’ll email you in a moment to find out more.
    Thank you again for posting!


  3. Shaneen Says:

    hey my name is shaneen and i am doing a history project about Residential schools .. could i posibly get few pictures that you have .. if not thats ok

  4. Shaneen Says:

    and if you have some information about it that would be great ….please email em back as soon as you cna thanks

  5. Hello Shaneen,
    It sounds like you are working on an interesting project. Can you share more details? What class is it for?
    Thanks for posting to my site.

  6. […] I’ve mentioned previously, the former Portage la Prairie school is now being used as tribal and administrative offices. Some […]

  7. Johnny Says:

    Hi, I was just browsing this site because My dad went to this school when I noticed on the last picture, it looks like it written in white lettering “Louis Harper June 29, 1955”. Louis was my father and was taken at a very young age, after graduating he went on to join the Queens Own Rifles of Canada, which meant that he never really got to see my grandparent throughout his childhood… This is an amazing find and brings me to want to go see this in person for myself.
    Thanks for posting this picture, never would have found it.

  8. n.a. Says:

    Hello Johnny,
    Wow – this is amazing news. You should definitely go see it for yourself. It does indeed look like your dad’s name. If you’d like some contact information for people at the school, let me know and I’ll send you an email. Let me know if I can help in some other way.
    All the best,

  9. […] I have found useful her documentation of site visits to various former schools, including Portage la Prairie, St. Mary’s, Coqualeetza, and Blue Quills. I have also corresponded with Naomi via e-mail and […]

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