Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Time to reveal our Greatest Manitoban

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Every day this week, we offer readers the long-awaited countdown to the No. 1 greatest Manitoban ever, as chosen by Winnipeg Free Press readers in a collaborative process that lasted all summer. Watch for our book The Greatest Manitobans to be released in November.

 

#1 Duff Roblin

Floodway, education reform among achievements

 

HE fought a war for his country. Then he came back and fought to make his province better.

He is the Greatest Manitoban.

He is Duff Roblin.

Free Press readers picked him from more than 350 nominations during a summer-long process to find the greatest Manitoban.

Readers responded with their idea of greatness by nominating politicians, humanitarians, writers, artists, sports heroes, granddads, best friends.

Then, a panel of thoughtful Manitobans -- an artist, a scientist, a sports figure, our favourite publisher and more -- determined the Top 50 for the final vote. Our readers picked Roblin as the best of the best.

He's known for building the Red River Floodway, which has saved Winnipeg from flooding more than once. But he did so much more. As premier, he championed a better education system and shaped the province we enjoy today.

"His policies were so progressive and so unusual that I really believe the Conservative Party in the modern era will not see his likes again," former NDP leader Ed Schreyer said of Roblin.

By the way, Schreyer's no slacker in the greatness department. He scored No. 9 on the list.

You can read all about Schreyer in our book The Greatest Manitobans, which profiles the Top 30 as voted by readers. The book is to launch in early November.

Roblin's a humble man who stepped out of public life years ago. He initially turned down our interview request and one from the CBC, our partner in this search. But he was persuaded to grant an interview to Free Press reporter Bruce Owen.

You can read all about Roblin and what makes him great on Page A15.

Tune in to CBC Information Radio on Monday morning, then CBC News at 6 later in the day to learn more about the man.

This quote by Roblin kept running through my head as I read the profiles of great Manitobans: "The currents of life run deep, and we hardly know how they move us."

For despite how different each great Manitoban is from the next, it seems to be something many of them have in common -- that they didn't think of themselves as great people achieving great things. They thought they were merely responding to what life handed them, whether that was a novel to write, a disease to cure, a record to break, a song to sing, a province to fix.

Maybe that is the essence of greatness.

julie.carl@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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