1820 to the Present
The story of SJR’s origin begins with two historic founding schools, St. John’s College School and Ravenscourt School, whose roots are firmly entwined with Manitoba’s own history. The Red River Mission School, founded in 1820 by Anglican minister Reverend John West, served to educate both the children of Lord Selkirk’s Red River Settlement and those of the area’s aboriginal population. After a series of changes in size and leadership, the School (then called the Red River Academy) was purchased in 1849 by Bishop David Anderson and renamed St. John’s Collegiate. Limited enrolment and declining popularity precipitated the School’s temporary closure in 1859.
Revived in 1866 by Bishop Robert Machray as a school for boys, St. John’s College School was soon recognized across the nation as a centre for excellence in education, and was chosen one of the first 10 schools in the Dominion to receive the Governor General’s Medal to be awarded to its top student. The stock market crash of 1929 and resulting Depression era, coupled with the effects of World War II, brought the School perilously close to closure once again by 1948.
Meanwhile, Oxford-educated visionary Norman Young had long dreamed of creating a “great Canadian school.” In 1929, a group of Winnipeg businessmen decided it was time for a second private school for boys to be founded and persuaded Young to lead the charge. Ravenscourt School, originally located on the banks of the Assiniboine River, found a new home in 1934 on the Thomson Estate in Fort Garry – with a spacious building and ample space for playing fields, all set on a beautiful secluded bend in the Red River.
The Great Flood of 1950 was a turning point in both School’s histories. While Ravenscourt School was dealing with damaging floodwaters, alumni from St. John’s College School were fighting to save their facility from the threat of closure. In response, an amalgamation was approved and the new School – St. John’s-Ravenscourt School – was incorporated on April 20, 1950.
SJR’s campus has seen continuous development and enhancement in subsequent years, providing some of the finest comprehensive facilities of any independent school in Canada. With the School’s focus on a challenging academic program of studies rounding out a first-rate liberal arts education, SJR has sent forth 18 Rhodes Scholars, garnered national and international acclaim in mathematics, public speaking and debating and other competitions, and has helped train generations of accomplished professionals and business leaders.
SJR embodies the spirit of achievement it fosters in its students, having triumphed over nature and adversity, and remains one of Canada’s leading independent university-preparatory schools. This is a history and tradition of which we are proud.
For more information about SJR's history, please contact the School Archivist, Calla Grabish, at firstname.lastname@example.org