Winnipeg's Giant of Education

by George Siamandas

Daniel McIntyre is the man recognized as being the giant of education, and responsible for the way schools developed in Winnipeg. Winnipeg's Daniel McIntyre Collegiate which opened on April 9, 1923, is named after the Winnipeg School Divisions's most distinguished public official. Daniel McIntyre Collegiate was built during 1922-1923, and was originally planned to be a state of the art school 4 storeys high; complete with indoor pool, auditorium, and labs. But it was not to be. Originally budgeted at $1,000,000, financial constraints resulted in a pared down school of only two stories and half the cost.


Daniel McIntyre was born in 1852 at Dalhousie, New Brunswick were he studied law at Dalhousie University and was called to the bar in 1882. Yet for some reason he turned his back to law and came to Manitoba in 1883 to become the principal of Carlton School in response to advertisements seeking new teachers. He was appointed superintendent August 18, 1885 a job he held for 43 years.

McIntyre toured Winnipeg schools in his horse and buggy in the early years. McIntyre did the curriculum and philosophy, of education while his other distinguished colleague, JB Mitchell built the buildings. They travelled to cities together all over North America looking for new solutions to Winnipeg's schools.


McIntyre helped develop Winnipeg's school system and the high standards for safety and comfort. He also professionalised the administration of schools by establishing individual committees for finance, school management, buildings, and printing and supplies.


McIntyre was recognized for his contributions by receiving a Doctor of Laws degree in 1912. At his retirement held at the Fort Garry Hotel in 1928, he was recognized in his own time as "One who knew his work and worked at it like a Hercules." He won an OBE in 1935. When McIntyre started to teach school in Winnipeg it had 49 teachers, and 11 school buildings. By the time he left it, 43 years later, Winnipeg had 1,000 teachers and 40,000 pupils.

He felt that "success in education came not from repression and torture but from the encouragement and happiness of the child." He also felt that the development of the child is more important than the curriculum. He didn't like exams and hoped in the future that students would be able to work on units of study rather than strictly defined subjects. He was described as kindly and persuasive, a Christian gentleman, a man of common sense who got along well with others. But he once chided a teacher saying he wouldn't have her teaching his children.


Daniel McIntyre and his wife had five children and once lived on Portage Ave where Rae & Jerry's Restaurant now stands. Most of their life was spent on Middlegate in Armstrong's Point. He spent his spare time trying to distract his children from those "time wasting comics."

On Saturdays he tutored an Icelandic boy in Latin at the request of the boy's dad, a caretaker at one of the schools. Young Mr. Thorson went on to receive the highest marks ever in Latin in Manitoba, and went still further to realize his dream of going to Oxford University.

McIntyre also helped tutor another young man named Dick Johns from the labour movement who had not had time for school when he was young. Johns went on to University and became a teacher and his work led to the establishment of Tech Voc High School where it is thought he became the principal.

Long before teaching the French language was in vogue, McIntyre had his children learning French and convinced his eldest son who became a doctor, to spend two years learning French at St. Boniface College. McIntyre faced many family tragedies. Two of their children died of diphtheria in 1868. Another died in WW1. His wife Mary died of appendicitis after visiting the grave of their lost son.

Daniel McIntyre retired in 1928 at age 77 so that he could devote himself to travel. Upon his retirement he was contracted by the school division to study school problems at an annual fee of $5,000. He lived 94 years till 1946 and passed away at Victoria BC.


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