Anola, Manitoba is located 25 kilometres east of Winnipeg in the Rural Municipality of Springfield. Like the other communities along Highway 15, it owes its creation to the arrival of the railway.
In 1906, noted railway contractor J. D. McArthur began construction on a $15 million rail line, a partnership between the National Transcontinental Railway and Grand Truck Pacific Railway, from Transcona into Northwest Ontario. The following year, the siding of “Free Port” was established. It was renamed Anola in 1912.
Development of the community was slow to start. A reporter traveling the rail line in June 1909 noted that the Free Port train station was under construction. The first store is said to have appeared around 1915.
While many of the communities along the Manitoba portion of this rail line have all but disappeared over the course of the century, Anola’s location at the junction of two highways has worked in its favour. It currently has a population of around 200 and boasts a school, museum and numerous businesses that serve the wider trading area.
Anola School (1968)
736 Academy Street
Classified ads first appeared in Winnipeg newspapers in July 1912 seeking a “female teacher holding a second-class certificate” for the newly created Anola School District No. 1602. The winning candidate was Miss Margaret Murray.
The region was dotted with one-room schoolhouses until the mid-1960s when school consolidation was imposed on the area. Between 1963 and 1966, several schools merged under the name Anola Consolidated School District. For three of them, Anola, McDavid, and Uppingham, the merger was a literal one as their schoolhouses were moved to the same site o form a campus until a new school could be built.
The Anola Consolidated School District was short lived as it was absorbed by the Transcona-Springfield School Division in 1967. That same year, Winnipeg architects Waisman Ross Blankstein Koop Gilmor Hanna, now known as Number 10 Architectural Group, were hired to design the new Anola School. The firm was making a name for itself in the late 1960s for such landmark buildings as Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the University of Manitoba’s Students Union Building.
The single-storey, Tyndall stone Anola School contained eight classrooms that could hold up to 250 students from grades one to eight. It also featured a library, multi-purpose area and gymnasium. The tender for its construction was advertised in December 1967 and B. F. Klassen Construction was awarded the $332,000 contract.
Anola School’s official opening ceremony took place on November 8, 1968. Clifton Orr, a student who attended one of the consolidated schools, Beatrice School, some 70 years earlier, cut the ribbon.
Today, Anola School is part of the Sunrise School Division and has 213 students ranging from kindergarten to grade eight. The original Anola school building is part of the Anola and District Museum.
Anola United Church (1956)
741 Weiser Crescent
This building was constructed in 1955 - 56 as the Hazelridge - Millbrook United Church and was originally located north of Highway 15 on Hazelridge Road west of Anola.
The size of its congregation declined through the 1960s and 70s and it was decided to move the building to the larger community of Anola in the summer of 1979. A basement and other additions were made to the original structure before the first service was held at its new location on October 28. A formal dedication ceremony took place on June 1, 1980 with about 120 people in attendance.
The Dugald and Anola United Churches joined forces in 1994 to create the Dugald-Anola Pastoral Charge. This allowed them to pool their resources to share the services of a single minister.
In 2006, the smaller Anola congregation was asked to vote on whether it wanted to close and merge with the Dugald church or continue operating. They voted to remain open but to only have services every second Sunday, which is still the practice.
Anola Over 50 Club House (1983)
733 Wesier Crescent
The Anola Over 50 Club was founded in the spring of 1982 and initially operated from the Anola Community Club. As its mission was to provide recreational and social activities for seniors, it was felt the club needed a dedicated space of its own rather than share a space which was geared more towards youth and sports.
The club held numerous fundraisers and by November 1982 work was underway on its own club house on land next to the United Church. During the construction phase it created partnerships with the local 4H Club to share its space and a daycare centre to operate out of its basement.
The club house opened on November 7, 1983. It boasted pool and shuffleboard tables, a kitchen and an open space that could be used for games or other recreational activities.
Today, the three organizations still share the building. The Anola Over 50 Club hosts weekly bingo, whist and cribbage nights as well as other special events.
Christian writes about local history on his blog, West End Dumplings