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Key Number: HS 26493
Site Name: McKay Avenue Public School
Other Names:
Site Type: 0314 - Educational: School

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4


Address: 10425 - 99 Avenue
Number: 25
Street: 104
Avenue: 99
Other:
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape: Rectangular Long Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 2 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Brick
Superstructure: Brick
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Plain Boxed Cornice
Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: Either Side
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 9 Bays or more
Wall Design and Detail: Column or Engaged Column
Wall Design and Detail: String or Belt Course
Wall Design and Detail: Entablature
Wall Design and Detail: Carving
Wall Design and Detail: Inscription or Date Stone
Wall Design and Detail: Decorative Brick
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Fascia
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim - Eaves: Decorated Frieze
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Metal
Roof Trim - Verges: Not Applicable
Roof Trim Material - Verges: None
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Left
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Right
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Chimney Stack Massing: Cluster Attached
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Continuous
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Voussoirs
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: None
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Stone
Window - Sill Type: Continuous Sill
Window - Sill Material: Stone
Window - Number of Sashes: Two, Double Hung
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Main Entrance - Location: 2 or More (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Semi-Circular
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Voussoir
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Keystone
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Other
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Stone
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Shaped Transom, Multiple Lights
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 2
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 4
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: First or Ground Floor, Closed Railing
Main Stairs - Direction: Straight
Main Porch - Type: None
Main Porch - Special Features: None
Main Porch - Material: None
Main Porch - Height: None
Exterior: Continuous sandstone sills and lintels; sandstone used in arches, columns, capitals and entablatures; windows - arch radiating keystone; roof cornices boxed, frieze decorated, additional gable windows.
Two arched entries with keystones and flanking columns; flat-headed windows on ground floor; arched windows on second floor; double-hung wooden-sash windows two-over-two; massive chimneys.
The McKay Avenue School is an excellent example of early Edmonton brick schools. It is designed in the Victorian Romanesque Style, with several Renaissance Revival-inspired details, including the quoin treatment and keystones at the two entrances. The school provides good examples of ashlar sandstone and corbelled brick band courses.
The Ionic Romanesque pillared entranceways are unique in Edmonton.
The exterior has remained substantially unaltered for seventy years.
Interior: N/A
Environment:
Condition:
Alterations:

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
1903/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
McKay Elementary School
Museum
1904/01/01
1984/01/01
Owner: Owner Date:
Edmonton School Board
Nellie Wood
Hudson's Bay Co.
Nellie Wood
Hudson's Bay Co.
William M. MacKay
John Killen, H. Gilbert
Francis B. Killen
Wm. James & Ernest Ferris
Edmonton School District #7.
Ernest Ferris
Edmonton School District #7
Bd. of Trustees Edm. School. Dist. #7.

1897/04/02
1899/10/16
1901/08/29
1903/05/30
1903/06/18
1903/09/16
1904/11/15
1906/10/08
1907/05/27
1908/06/19
1909/06/19
1965/08/23
Architect: H.D. Johnstone
Builder: R.J. Manso
Craftsman: N/A
History: In March, 1904, steps were taken to build an eight room school on the original McKay Avenue site. Plans submitted by Mr. H.D. Johnson were accepted and he was authorized to prepare an estimate of the proposed building. The price given was $33,000 and a by-law for $38,000 was passed. Mr. Manson was awarded the contract for #31,450. The cornerstone of this new school was laid by the then Governor General of Canada, Lord Minto. A new by-law was passed for $4,400 to retire the by-law for $38,000 and to provide for a deficiency to cover increased costs of heating, plumbing and fencing. The contract for the plumbing and heating was awarded to Ross Bros. At a meeting of the Board, July 21st, 1905, Mr. Walter Ramsay was appointed principal of the McKay Avenue School.

Mr. Walter Scott was named Principal of McKay Avenue School in November, 1905, to succeed Mr. Ramsay, who resigned his position to go into business.
In 1906 the first session of the Legislature of the Province of Alberta met in McKay Avenue School. The government was given the use of the assembly hall, the Principal's room, and the lady teachers' room. They were to cover the stairs with cocoanut matting and to pay the caretaker extra. The rent of $400.00 was arranged later.

*****
1904 date stone above east entry; 1912 date stone above west entry; name plaque 'McKay Avenue Public School'. Site of first meeting of Alberta Legislature in 1906.

McKay Avenue School was constructed on the site of the original McKay School, (1881) the first official public school in what is now Alberta. The schools were named after a prominent pioneer doctor, W.H. MacKay. His name was carved incorrectly on the school. Soon after Governor General Lord Minto laid the cornerstone, the new school became the home of the first two sessions of the legislature (1906-07). Designed by H.D. Johnson, a local architect, and built at a cost of $44,000, the structure is of red stretcher bond brick and sandstone. Its design, with engaged columns and a round Romanesque arch above the main entrance, is typical of schools of the period.

***
Edmonton's first school outside the Fort was erected on this site in 1881. The land was donated by the Hudson's Bay Company and most of the $968 needed to construct the wood frame school was collected through public subscription. The original school stands at the southwest corner of the schoolyard, and is the first prominent manufactured lumber building in Edmonton. In 1905, the eastern two-thirds of McKay Avenue School was completed in brick and sandstone, and the western third was added in 1912. The school's namesake was Dr. William Morrison MacKay, a Hudson's Bay Company surgeon from 1864 to 1898. The misspelling of his name became literally carved stone when the sandstone panel bearing the school's name arrived reading 'McKay'. A high point in the school's history came in 1906-1907 when the third floor assembly hall was rented to house the first two sessions of the Provincial Parliament. Both the schools on this property have been designated Provincial Historic Resources; the 1904 McKay Avenue School received this status in 1976, and the 1881 School followed in 1983.

***
Pioneer doctor, retired in Edmonton in 1898 after 34 years of practice in Western Canada. Reopened practice and became first president of Northern Alberta Medical Association in 1902.
First organized Public School.
First session of Alberta Legislature held in this school.

***
McKay Avenue School is situated on a site which has been used continuously for educational purposes since 1881, when the first Edmonton Public School was constructed. In the summer of 1904, the old frame school was moved to the west end of the school grounds, and construction of McKay Avenue School commenced. Completed a year later, this substantial brick and sandstone school cost approximately $44,000. It was designed by H.D. Johnston and contracted by R.J.

Manson with the masonry work subcontracted to Batson and Pheasy.
While the new school was under construction, classes were held in the old school, and in the old Presbyterian church nearby. On September 10, 1904, the governor-general of Canada, Lord Minto, graciously officiated at the school's opening ceremony when the cornerstone was laid.

The school's Assembly Hall housed the first sessions of the first Legislative Assembly of Alberta, serving as legislative chamber until 1908. In 1912, due to the increased demand for classroom space, the school was enlarged to the west. The school was named after Dr.

William MacKay, the Hudson's Bay Company surgeon for the North West Territories from 1864 to 1898. Dr. MacKay was the only doctor from Hudson's Bay to the Rockies for 34 years. In 1898, he 'retired' in Edmonton, but soon after established a practice here until his death in 1917. In 1976, the school was designated a Provincial Historic Resource.

1904 RED-BRICK SCHOOL OF RENAISSANCE STYLE
By Jac Macdonald Journal Staff Writer

Modern high-rise apartment buildings and office towers surround two buildings that played a prominent role in early Edmonton.

For many years, the red-brick McKay Avenue School at 10424 - 99th Avenue was a dominant building the downtown skyline. Today the four-storey structure, which served as Alberta's first legislative assembly in 1906 and 1907, is often overlooked.

On the grounds beside it is a grey frame building - Edmonton and Alberta's first public school fully restored to 1881 conditions, right down to the desks and slates used by the city's first pupils. It was built on four lots donated to the fledgling school board by the Hudson's Bay Co.

Both buildings were named after the avenue, which had taken its name from Dr. William MacKay, a pioneer Hudson's Bay Co. doctor. The name was originally misspelled and stayed that way.

The 1881 school was used as a private residence for more than 60 years on the Rossdale Flats. During the 1915 flood, it almost floated away but was secured with a hook and cables by its owner, David Mawhinney.

During its 20 years of public life, it saw service as a courtroom and social centre, as well as providing the city with its first centre of learning.
It is architecturally significant as the first building constructed of dressed lumber in Edmonton - all others at the time were of logs. It was built for $968, the money raised by public subscription, as the legal school district would not be established until 1885.

The old school house has now been restored and is used as a living museum where today's students can experience the lessons and the discipline of century-old academe.

The brick school, built in 1904, was described by the Edmonton Bulletin as of the 'Renaissance style of architecture constructed of pressed brick and stone trimmings.'

When finished, it could barely hold the large numbers of students flocking to Edmonton schools in the early years of the century. Its enrollment peaked at 515 students in 1916. In 1983, its last year of active service, it had 59 students.

The brick school was designed by H.D. Johnstone, and built at a cost of $51,450 by a Mr. Manson. Its cornerstone was laid by Lord Minto, Canada's governor-general at the time. An addition was built in 1912.

During its construction, the school board sold the first school house to the contractor for use as a construction shack for $75. The old school house then made its way down the hill to the flats, where it was used as a private residence until 1980.

Growth in student enrollment forced the building of two other brick schools before work on the new McKay Avenue structure began. However, both of these schools - College Avenue School, and Queen's Avenue School - were demolished many years ago.

The legislative assembly which used the third floor assembly hall for two years paid $400 in rent. During the time it met at McKay Avenue, many momentous issues were decided, including establishing Alberta's first speed limits for automobiles at 20 miles per hour and that the capital would be Edmonton.

Today it is used to house the board's museum and archives. One of the classrooms has been restored to 1912 era conditions. In the process, seven coats of paint were removed from the wainscotting by students at W.P. Wagner High School, notes board archivist Mike Kostek.
The third floor will be restored to look as it did when it housed the legislative assembly.

In inspections to determine the school's structural soundness, Kostek discovered soundproofing 1904-style - a layer of seaweed sandwiched between two layers of tar paper underneath the assembly floor.

The first floor has been rented to the Edmonton Immigration Society.
McKay Avenue School was designated a provincial historic resource in 1976.
* * *

For Immediate Release, Edmonton, May 20, 1976.

ALBERTA'S FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL DESIGNATED

McKay Avenue School, 10425 - 99 Avenue in Edmonton has been designated a Classified Historic Site by the Hon. Horst A. Schmid.
Built in 1904, the school's cornerstone was laid by Governor General, Lord Minto. After the Province of Alberta was created in 1905, the first two working sessions of the Legislative Assembly met in the McKay Avenue Assembly Hall: March 15 - May 19, 1906, and January 24 - March 15, 1907. G.H.V. Bulyea, the first Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and the first Premier, A.C. Rutherford, chaired many meetings in this historic building. The original McKay Avenue School, built on the same site in 1881, was the first official public school in Alberta.

McKay Avenue School was built of long-lasting material in a typical late Victorian style displaying Romanesque features. Architectural features, such as the column and arch formation of the building, were used as teaching aids to exemplify architectural characteristics to students.
* * *

McKay Avenue School is significant to the Province of Alberta due to its educational and political associations. This building is located on the site of the first official public school in Alberta, replacing that structure in 1904. It is the oldest continuous academic site still in use in Alberta. The assembly hall in McKay housed the first two working sessions of the Alberta Legislative Assembly: March 15 - May 19, 1906, and January 24 - March 15, 1907.
McKay Avenue School is a good example of late Victorian architecture relatively common to early Edmonton schools. The architectural features of the building were actually used as teaching aides, as examples of early architectural characteristics could be pointed out to the student.
* * *

MCKAY AVENUE SCHOOL (1904) Red Brick School of Renaissance Style
Modern high-rise apartment buildings and office towers surround two buildings that played a prominent role in early Edmonton.
McKay Avenue School, a four-storey red brick building served as Alberta's first Legislative Assembly in 1906 and 1907.

On the grounds beside it is a grey wood frame building - Edmonton and Alberta's public school fully restored to 1881 conditions, right down to the desks and slates used by the city's first pupils. It was built on four lots donated to the fledgling school board by the Hudson's Bay Company doctor. The name was originally misspelled on the brick school's front and has remained unchanged ever since.

The wood frame school is architecturally significant as the first building constructed of dressed lumber in Edmonton - all others at the time were of logs. It was built for $968. The money was raised by public subscription, as the legal school district was not established until 1885. During its first 20 years of public service, it served as a courtroom and social centre, as well as providing the city with its first centre of learning.

The old school house has been restored and is used as a living museum where present-day students can experience the lessons and the discipline of century-old academia.

The brick school, built in 1904, was described by The Edmonton Bulletin as of the 'Renaissance style of architecture constructed of pressed brick and stone trimmings.'

The brick school was designed by H.D. Johnstone, and built at a cost of $51,450 by a Mr. Manson. Its cornerstone was laid by Lord Minto, Canada's governor general at the time.

During its construction, the school board sold the 1881 school house to the contractor for use as a construction shack. The old school then made its way to the river valley, where it was used as a private residence on the Rossdale Flats until 1980. During the 1915 flood of the North Saskatchewan River, it almost floated away but was secured with a hook and cables by its owner, David Mawhinney.

The Legislative Assembly which used the third floor assembly hall for two years paid $400 in rent. Many momentous issues were decided at this time, including establishing Alberta's first speed limits for automobiles at 20 miles per hour and formalizing Edmonton as the capital of Alberta.

McKay Avenue School was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1976. The brick school is now used to house the board's museum and archives. One of the classrooms has been restored to 1912 era conditions. In the process, seven coats of paint were removed from the wainscotting by students at W.P. Wagner High School. The third floor has been restored to look as it did when it housed the Legislative Assembly.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
Active
1978/12/21
1993/09/22
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal Historic Resource
Municipal A List
Provincial Historic Resource


1976/05/18
Register: A23
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/08

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0450
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