Red River campus honours Duff Roblin

The main buildings of Red River College's downtown Winnipeg campus have a new name that honours a former premier.
The buildings of Red River Colleges downtown campus, fronted by a facade of heritage structures facing Princess Street, are now known as The Roblin Centre. (Google Street View)

The main buildings of Red River College's downtown Winnipeg campus have a new name that honours a former premier.

The buildings, fronted by a facade of heritage structures facing Princess Street, are now known as The Roblin Centre — a tribute to former Manitoba Premier Duff Roblin.

College president Stephanie Forsythe said it's fitting because Roblin started the ball rolling on the community college system in Manitoba.

'He was most proud of what he did for the system of education … I know that was his pride and joy.'—Jennifer Roblin

Roblin, who died in May 2010 at age 92, is widely known as the person responsible for creating the Red River Floodway, but education was also a big focus of his government.

While serving as premier from 1958 to 1967, Roblin's administration reintroduced French-language instruction in schools, expanded and improved post-secondary education, created the modern system of school division in the province and helped create the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University, which had been colleges.

As well, Manitoba's rural system of one-room schoolhouses moved into the modern era with the building of consolidated schools.

Chaired education commission

In the early 1990s, he chaired a commission that examined post-secondary education in the province. The commission's report, Post-Secondary Education in Manitoba: Doing Things Differently, laid the groundwork for an expansion of Manitoba’s college system that included enhancing the participation of Aboriginal people in post-secondary education.

Red River's growth over the past several years can be credited to the recommendations of the Roblin Report, stated a news release from the college.

The college's board of governors approved the renaming of the campus in November but the official ceremony took place on Monday.

"In bestowing this honour, the board acknowledges the significant contribution Premier Roblin made to Manitoba’s post-secondary education system," a college news release stated in November.

Jennifer Roblin said on Monday that her father would have been humbled and honoured by the renaming of the buildings.

"He was most proud of what he did for the system of education, revamping it, giving the boys and girls of Manitoba what they deserved, and I know that was his pride and joy," she said.

The cluster of buildings now known as The Roblin Centre is bordered by William Avenue, Elgin Avenue, Princess Street and Adelaide Street. They are the only structures that make up the downtown campus at the present time.

However, the college will soon expand its footprint in the area into the Massey Building on the southeast corner of William and Princess, as well as into the former Union Bank Tower on the corner of Main Street and William.

Together, the locations will be known as the college's Exchange District Campus.