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Rugby coach pushed players to succeed

The local rugby community is in mourning after the death of Paul Harland last month.

Tragically, Paul, who was 60, died while swimming in Cancun.

As his grieving family says, Paul was larger than life, gregarious and kind, a fun-loving gentleman, supportive and encouraging, a role model and a prankster, selfless and intelligent, and an amazing father and great friend.

But I left out one word they also used: competitive. And, if you happened to be on a rugby field the last few decades, you would have seen that trait first-hand.

That’s because Paul was a driving force in the rugby community, both as a player on the field and as an official.

In fact, Paul’s write up in the Manitoba Rugby Hall of Fame, where he was honoured as an official, said he could easily have been inducted as a player as well.

Paul began playing rugby when he was in Grade 7 at River Heights Junior High before continuing to play at Kelvin High School and the Winnipeg Wasps Rugby Football Club. He went on to play junior rugby at the provincial level and was part of the provincial team that played in the bronze-medal game at the Canada Games in 1981, losing the medal by only one point.

Through the years, Paul played on the senior men’s provincial team, named most valuable player and going on to wear Canada’s national team jersey.

He coached both men’s and women’s teams and won city championships with several high schools. He was the Manitoba Rugby Union’s first youth coordinator and helped organize the first-ever high school rugby festival as well as a high school league.

Paul was named Coach of the Month in September 2007, and was recognized by Coaching Manitoba as “a great advocate for the sport of rugby. Through his dedication to rugby, Paul helped to develop the sport in Manitoba. As an inspirational and motivated coach, he has stressed to his players that if they wanted something bad enough, and they worked hard, they would get it.”

When Paul wasn’t playing or coaching rugby, he was a teacher at Bruce and Ness Middle Schools.

Paul’s emails always ended with a quote from Mary Oliver which said: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Well, Paul’s life, in part, was one of helping guide young people, whether on the field or in the classroom, to achieve their best.

Paul is survived by his wife of almost 40 years, Elizabeth, and by two daughters, a son and a granddaughter.

Read more about Paul.


How They Lived


Gen Swartman was a pioneering businesswoman.

Gen, who died on Feb. 18 at age 97, was born in Winnipeg and moved to Thunder Bay later in life.

She went on to co-own and manage Gold Belt Air in Pickle Lake as well as fly-in fishing camps.

Read more about Gen.



Glenn Davis spent a lot of time in water.

Glenn, who was 65 when he died on Feb. 21, was a lifelong competitive swimmer.

He started with the St. Vital Dolphins, now the Manta Swim Club, and later became a member of the Manitoba Masters Aquatic Club, serving on its board and coaching for more than 30 years.

Read more about Glenn.



Anyone remember Oscar’s Restaurant in Selkirk?

Oscar Cantin, who died on Feb. 17 at age 100, opened it in 1956 in downtown Selkirk.

Oscar had first operated a hotdog stand in the community for 13 years and then a snack bar for five more years.

But he didn’t run it long. He sold it after getting married in 1961, moved back to Winnipeg, and worked at his brother’s pharmacy, Cantin Drugs, until retiring.

Read more about Oscar.



Frank Wilson was a teacher.

Frank, who had just turned 77, died on Feb. 7.

He got a Master’s degree in science at the University of Manitoba and took PhD studies on the Cyclotron.

Frank spent his entire career teaching at Vincent Massey Collegiate and when he retired in 2001 he was head of the school’s mathematics department.

Read more about Frank.



Ed Webb made sure the trains ran on time — in his basement and in city malls.

Ed, who died on Feb. 4 at 91, set up miniature model railroads as assistant superintendent of the Winnipeg Modular Railway.

Ed’s day job was working at a printing plant — where he printed everybody’s milk cartons for three decades — and he was honoured as the most senior executive officer of the Canadian Union of Graphic and Allied Products for more than 25 years.

Read more about Ed.



Kurt Herzberg helped many people drive Beetles.

Kurt, who died on Feb. 20, came to Canada shortly after getting married in 1953, but it was his love of cars which brought his family to Winnipeg in 1964.

Here he got a Volkswagen franchise and, with his brother-in-law, they founded Auto Haus Fort Garry which they grew to include Porsche and Audi vehicles as well as having a full sales, service and body shop.

Read more about Kurt.



Steve Gembarsky’s passion was music and it didn’t matter which genre.

Steve, who was 71 when he died on Feb. 6, wrote music and played with several bands. He also performed with both the Rossdale Ukrainian dance group and the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus.

Read more about Steve.


A Life’s Story

Margaret Wishnowski was a community leader in Riverton.

Margaret, who was 90 when she died on April 18, was a teacher — she taught the Icelandic language to elementary students in Riverton — but she was also a historian, writer, researcher, and community volunteer.

Margaret Wishnowski with a vinarterta cake. (Supplied)

“In the close-knit community of Riverton, Margaret proudly carried a large role,” said Tanis Grimolfson of the Riverton and District Friendship Centre.

Read more about Margaret’s life in our weekly Passages feature.



Until next time, I hope you continue to write your own life’s story.

Kevin Rollason, Reporter

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