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The year 2014 saw the loss of one of the province’s most prominent businessmen, a prominent aboriginal chief, the founder of the province’s largest marathon, the founder of the city’s largest food bank, one of the best mayors Winnipeg never had, a prominent developer, a judge who advocated for aboriginal people, and a longtime environmental journalist.
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This article was published 2/1/2015 (1387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An experienced helicopter pilot, George Richardson would fly across the west and north to visit his family company’s holdings.
But Richardson would also fly the aircraft to commute to and from his home south of the city.
Richardson, the patriarch of the city’s wealthiest and most prominent family, died on May 14. He was 89.
Known by business associates as GTR, Richardson joined his family’s company, James Richardson and Sons, in 1946 after graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He initially was assigned to the company’s terminals in Thunder Bay, but rose to become vice-president of the company in 1954, and president in 1966, a position he would hold for 27 years. He became the company’s chairman in 1993 and officially retired seven years later.
Richardson was appointed the Hudson’s Bay Company’s first Canadian-born Governor in 1972, with the company’s headquarters and archives moving from England to Canada during his term. He was instrumental in bringing the replica of the Nonsuch ship to the Manitoba Museum in 1970.
Richardson was honoured with the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from both the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg.
After Richardson’s death, businessman and lawyer David Asper said Richardson "was always very supportive of other people in the business community who were trying to do good things."
From a single reserve in Manitoba, Louis Stevenson, who died at 64 on Dec. 27, was able to shine an international light on the conditions aboriginal people face on reserves.
Stevenson was elected in 1981 as chief of Peguis First Nation — a position he held for 26 years, the longest serving chief in Manitoba.
In 1987, Stevenson invited Glenn Babb, South Africa’s Canadian ambassador, to the reserve to compare Canada’s treatment of indigenous people with the treatment of his country’s black population in 1987. The visit made embarassing headlines about Canada around the world.
The next year, Stevenson became the founding Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in 1988.
"He was a staunch supporter of First Nations rights and our treaty rights and certainly that is something that we have benefitted from with his advocacy in that area," current Peguis chief Glen Hudson said.
John Robertson, John Robertson, who died on Jan. 25, at 79, had been a reporter and columnist for almost two decades when a fire broke out at the Manitoba Development Centre in Portage la Prairie and killed 11 people.
That tragedy spurred Robertson to help people with intellectual disabilities move out of the institution into the community. And to help fund this, Robertson founded the Manitoba Marathon.
Since then, more than $5 million has been raised to fund hundreds of projects to help people leave institutional care.
"He just had such a passion for this event and passion for the people that we were working with," Dale Kendel, the now-retired longtime executive director of the Association for Community Living Manitoba, told the Free Press after Robertson’s death.
"When I met John, he was trying to figure out how to blend the work we wanted to do, with the things that we could put in place. And it was just a wonderful combination to do that for so many years."
Lee Newton, who died on Feb. 8, at 61, was watching a television documentary when she learned about a food bank in New York City called City Harvest, which talked about how North Americans waste 25 per cent of the food produced.
Based on that idea, Newton went to the Core Area Initiative for funding and opened Winnipeg’s first food bank in 1985. The CAI also put Newton in touch with a community organizer named David Northcott, Harvest’s longtime executive director.
Northcott said recently that Lee "was loved and respected by everyone at Harvest and in the community that supported it, because she treated each person with the same concern and respect, from corporate sponsor to the newest volunteer sorting groceries."
Northcott said he still remembers, during one of the early days of Harvest when it hosted a Christmas party for children at the Broadway Optimist Community Centre, joining Newton to hand out cookies to the children.
He said when Newton asked one of the boys why they put the cookie into their pocket and was told it was for his sick sister at home, she gave him another cookie, which he also put in his pocket.
"We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and realized the blessing we just witnessed," Northcott said.
"Everyone can help. No heart is too small or too large."
Val Werier was an environmentalist long before many others.
Werier, who died on April 21, at 96, spent 75 years as a journalist, beginning by freelancing articles to the Winnipeg Tribune. He was hired by the newspaper and — after serving in the Second World War — he rose to be city editor and associate editor of the paper. He joined the Free Press after the Tribune folded.
Werier wrote numerous articles and columns on environmental and heritage causes during his career.
Werier was honoured with the Environment Canada National Heritage Award in 1986, and was named to the Order of Canada in 1998 and the Order of Manitoba in 2004.
Free Press publisher Bob Cox said in the wake of Werier’s death that he "crusaded for the less fortunate and the threatened — whether they were people or trees", while Free Press city editor Shane Minkin called Werier "the conscience of the province."
Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench associate chief Justice Alvin Hamilton had been a judge for two decades when he was named as co-commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry with provincial court Judge Murray Sinclair in 1988, in the wake of the death of J.J. Harper in Winnipeg and it taking 16 years for anyone to be charged with Helen Betty Osborne’s slaying in The Pas.
Hamilton, who died on July 25 at 87, was the son of a juvenile court judge, and went into law in 1951.
He practiced in Roblin, Melita and Brandon, and while in the Wheat City he helped found an Indian-Metis Friendship Centre there.
A few years after running unsuccessfully for the federal Liberals, he was named a Court of Queen’s Bench justice in 1971, later rising to associate chief justice.
When the AJI report came out, Hamilton and Sinclair wrote that "the justice system has failed Manitoba’s aboriginal people on a massive scale."
Bernie Wolfe was a city councillor for both Metro Winnipeg and Winnipeg city councils from 1960 to 1978.
But Wolfe, who died on Nov. 6 at 91, always wondered if he would have been mayor if not for a quick move by then Mayor Steve Juba. Juba had put his nomination papers in, but at the last minute he dropped out of the race, clearing the way for a election between councillors Bob Steen and Bill Norrie, and leaving no time for Wolfe, known as the most powerful elected official at city hall in the 1970s, to throw his hat in.
Wolfe was a founding member and president of Heritage Winnipeg, which has helped many Exchange District buildings gain heritage status, and later was an outspoken critic of the plan by OlyWest to build a hog processing plant in the St. Boniface Industrial Park. The plant later was built in Neepawa.
Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg’s executive director, said after Wolfe’s death that his "passion for the city stood out. He loved Winnipeg and loved serving people."
Jack Levit changed Winnipeg’s skyline.
Levit, a developer who died Nov. 13, at 87, founded the Lakeview company in 1964, after the sale of his dad’s business, the Levit Sign Company.
Levit first developed the Courts of St. James residential and commercial development in St. James, before going on to develop an entire downtown block that today includes the Delta Hotel, 500 apartment units in Holiday Towers, and three office buildings.
He also built the Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites and the Sheraton Four Points at the airport and developed about a dozen Country Inn and Suites as well as the company’s own chain of hotels called Lakeview Inn and Suites.
Levit is also responsible for building the city’s first skywalk, connecting the hotel with the convention centre.
Richard Brownscombe, president and CEO of Montrose Mortgage Corp., said after Levit’s death that people "with his kind of energy and commitment to the industry, do not come around that often. He is truly a legend in my opinion. He took big risks and got things done."
Jan. 6 — Stan Miner, 92. He was a law enforcement legend in the North End. He served in the Second World War with the Canadian Merchant Navy and joined the Winnipeg Police Department in 1947. Assigned to community policing in the North End, where he spent most of his career. He represented the force at international pistol shooting competitions. He successfully challenged the city’s mandatory retirement policy and used the cash award to found a scholarship fund for children of police officers which has aided 300 students. Instrumental in getting government benefits for Merchant Navy veterans, his fundraising resulted in a memorial window at Deer Lodge Hospital. He was honoured with a Minister of Veterans Affairs commendation and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Jan. 6 — David Markus, 58. He judged dogs. He operated a dog grooming shop in Elmwood for three decades and bred and exhibited whippets. He became an all breed Canadian Kennel Club judge and judged at shows in North America, Japan and Australia. He was a past president of the Manitoba Canine Association and founding member and first president of the National Whippet Club of Canada.
Jan. 9 — Garth Nosworthy, 62. He loved playing music for all ages. He started playing the guitar at five and by the age of 12 was part of the 1960s Winnipeg music scene, playing in The Sonics, TC and the Provincials and then The Mongrels, which signed with RCA and then Capital Records. He became an air traffic controller, finally working at Winnipeg’s airport. Over the last two decades, he worked with children’s entertainers Just Kiddin’ which released three CDs and won the Prairie Music Award for Outstanding Children’s Entertainment.
Jan. 10 — Homer Gill, 89. He graduated to politics. After serving in the Second World War, he returned to Neepawa and worked as a teacher and principal until 1970. He was elected in the 1960s as town councillor and deputy mayor before serving as mayor from 1981 to 1992. He was president of the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities and was on numerous boards, including the U of M’s Board of Governors.
Jan. 11 — Steve Patrick, 82. He was a football player turned politician who helped his community. Born in Glenella, he worked on the family farm. He played 13 years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a defensive middle guard and helped win four Grey Cups while being named to two all star teams and was team captain for four years. He went on to found Patrick Realty and Insurance and was elected MLA for St. James-Assiniboia from 1962 to 1977. He was chairman of the board of the Canadian Paraplegic Association and on the boards of several other organizations. He was honoured with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt and inducted into both the Blue Bomber and Manitoba Sports Halls of Fame.
Jan. 12 — Ian Reid, 82. He built the sport of water skiing in this province. He learned water skiing from his father, won several provincial titles and founded the province’s first club, the Selkirk Seals, in 1951. He helped found the Manitoba Waterski Association in 1953 and was president of the Canadian Waterski Association in 1974-75. He was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Water Ski Hall of Fame and was named to the Order of Canada in 1983.
Jan. 15 — Lorne Campbell. He was a lawyer who helped the special needs community. He graduated from law school after returning from the Second World War, including landing on Juno Beach on D-Day. During his 58 years as a lawyer he was named a Queen’s Counsel and was president of the Manitoba Bar Association, the Law Society of Manitoba and the Canadian Bar Association. He was chairman of the U of M’s centennial campaign which built the Max Bell Centre. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada and served as president of both the Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Manitoba (now Society for Manitobans with Disabilities) and Canadian Rehabilitation Council for the Disabled.
Jan. 17 — Michael Gottli, 49. He was an actor. He starred in Guy Maddin’s films Tales from the Gimli Hospital and Archangel. He later joined the Yuk Yuk’s comedy circuit. His career ended after he collided with a moose in 1994.
Jan. 20 — Matt Reid, 94. He was a pilot. He flew fighter planes in the Second World War. He became commanding officer of the 402 City of Winnipeg Fighter Squadron (Auxiliary) in 1953 and helped oversee its pipe and drum band.
Jan. 22 — Margaret Fulton, 91. An educator, she was born in Birtle, graduated from the Winnipeg Normal School in 1942 and taught in a one-room school at Penrith. She earned a Ph.D at the University of Toronto and became Dean of Women at UBC in 1974, before becoming president of Mount Saint Vincent University from 1978 to 1986. She received 15 honorary degrees, was an officer in the Order of Canada, and won the Governor General’s Commemoration of Persons award.
Jan. 28 — Waclaw Kuzia, 100. He supported his Polish community. He grew up in Poland, except when his family was deported to Siberia during the First World War. He fought for Poland in the Second World War before being taken prisoner by the Soviet Army. After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, he was released and rejoined the Polish Army. He formed a construction company in Canada after the war and was a founding member of the Polish Combatants’ Association Branch 13 in Winnipeg, where he served two terms as president, as well as the PCA Credit Union.
Jan. 28 — Barrie Stevenson, 66. He helped his community of Morris. He was born in Morris and raised on a farm north of the town. He opened Barrie’s Auto Parts while serving as a town councillor for two terms before becoming mayor from 2002 to 2006. He was on the board of the International Water Coalition and was the longest serving board member of the local youth centre.
Jan. 30 — Leona Billinkoff, 93. She helped children go to summer camp. She went back to the U of M in 1961 to get her teaching certificate and taught at Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate. She was president of the Talmud Torah PTA and was administrator at Camp Massad from 1953 to 1978, and, with her husband, turned it into a self-sustaining entity with programming. An artist, her wall hangings and rugs were shown at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and are in other collections.
Jan. 31 — Jim Wright, 91. He loved horse racing. Born in Kenora, he came to Winnipeg as a child. A visitor to Polo Park racetrack while still in school, he opened the first self-serve market in Winnipeg after returning from the Second World War and bought his first racehorse. Five decades later he had been inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, was awarded the Sovereign Award as Man of the Year by the Jockey Club of Canada, and had owned Assiniboia Downs racetrack. He also served as president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.
Feb. 1 — Bert Hall, 94. He produced poultry. Born near Manitou, he and his brother formed Manitoba’s first registered turkey hatchery. After serving in the Second World War, he bought the farm and became the general manager of Manitou Broiler Farms. He was active on the executive of several farm organizations, was twice elected mayor of Manitou and served on the Pembina Valley School Division board. He was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1999.
Feb. 1 — Luella Robertson, 96. She did her bowling on grass. She was born in Kenora, but grew up in Transcona. She played baseball, curling and golfing, but later enjoyed lawn bowling. She was president of both the Tuxedo Lawn Bowling Club and the Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association, now Bowls Manitoba, and was the leader in the construction of the clubhouse in Tuxedo. She was honoured with the Governor General’s award for volunteer service.
Feb. 2 — Ernie Krahn, 73. He served the community of Morden. Born in Winnipeg, he moved to Morden in 1963 to open an accountant’s office and later formed Krahn and Friesen CA’s. He served 12 years as councillor and mayor of Morden.
Feb. 2 — Harvey Friesen, 65. He was an air pioneer. He joined Bearskin Airlines, then a small float plane operation, as a pilot in 1970. Two years later, he bought half the company and by 1977 was majority owner and president. He and his brother expanded it into one of the country’s most successful regional commuter airlines. They sold the company in 2010, and he retired at the end of 2013. He was also a past chairman of the Air Transport Association of Canada.
Feb. 3 — Frances Gunn. She was a champion skater, born in Winnipeg. With her partner, David Ross, and before she was married, Frances Abbott became the 1953 Canadian Figure Skating Dance champion. A prior commitment prevented her from going to the world championships. She later became a judge until retiring in the late 1970s.
Feb. 7 — John Russell, 91. He helped people read. He began as assistant librarian at United College in 1946 and went on to the library at the U of M’s Faculty of Medicine. He helped open libraries in various areas of Winnipeg between 1952 and 1969 and became city librarian of the Winnipeg Public Library. He was president of the Manitoba Library Association and represented Manitoba on the Advisory Council of the National Library of Canada.
Feb. 9 — Frank Cronshaw, 87. He helped bring a Viking to Gimli. Born in Quebec, he was posted to CFB Gimli after serving in the Second World War. After leaving the military, he joined his wife at Cronshaw’s Jewellery in Gimli. He was active in local service clubs and was instrumental in having the iconic Viking statue erected and, as president of the local Chamber of Commerce, helped unveil it.wo
Feb. 11 — Oscar Grubert, 84. Winnipeggers ate finger lickin’ good chicken because of him. A lawyer, he opened a drive-in with friends on Main Street before writing to Col. Sanders in 1958. The Colonel showed up unannounced at his office and he became a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise owner, calling the 20 outlets Champs KFC. They also ran Mother Tucker’s, the Palomino Club and the Garden Creperie. He was president of the Canadian Restaurant Association in 1970.
Feb. 14 — David Tomasson. He worked to help Hecla Island and Lake Winnipeg. He grew up on Hecla and graduated with a Masters Degree in Natural Resources Management from the U of M. He worked for the provincial government for more than two decades, rising to deputy minister in Northern and Native Affairs, Energy and Mines, and Rural Development. He served as chairman of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, director of the Hecla Village Harbour Authority and member of the National Harbour Authority Advisory Committee. He was honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Feb. 17 — Joe Bell, 90. He played championship hockey. Born in Portage la Prairie, he was the last surviving member of the 1942 Memorial Cup Champion Portage Terriers. He was signed by the New York Rangers and played his first game at age 18. He later played for the Rangers’ minor league team and was named to the American Hockey League’s first all-star team when he led the league in goals in 1945-46. He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Feb. 19 — John Dafoe, 83. He was a newspaperman. Grandson of Canadian newspaper giant J.W. Dafoe, he began his career working at the Lethbridge Herald and Edmonton Journal before joining the Free Press as a reporter in the 1970s. He went to the Globe and Mail before becoming editorial editor at the Montreal Star. When that paper folded, he joined the Free Press again, this time as editorial page editor until he retired in 1995. He was honoured twice with National Newspaper Awards for editorial writing and nominated two other times.
Feb. 25 — Gene Pyrz, 56. He entertained from numerous stages. He helped found Shakespeare in the Ruins, played the title role in Macbeth and also acted at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Rainbow Stage. His most remembered role was Hank in Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave, put on by Theatre Crossroads at the Windsor Hotel in 1991. In film and television, he was featured in Cinderella Man and Less than Kind and was lead singer of local band Combo Combo.
March 4 — Jack Fainman, 82. He was a pro-choice obstetrician. He delivered more than 5,000 babies over 40 years and was head of obstetrics at the Victoria General Hospital. He estimated one per cent of his practice was abortions. In 1997, he was shot in his shoulder at home, allegedly by James Kopp, later convicted of slaying an abortion provider in New York state. He wrote a book, They Shoot Doctors, Don’t They?, along with former Manitoba attorney general Roland Penner.
March 5 — Betty Johns, 70. She educated university students. She was born an American citizen and volunteered in the Peace Corps before coming to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education in 1969. She became head of the former Department of Curriculum: Mathematics and Natural Sciences and from 1987 to 1992 she volunteered with the university’s faculty association, serving as president from 1990 to 1991. She retired in 2009.
March 13 — Elizabeth Wood, 65. She crusaded for Lyme disease awareness. Bitten by a tick in 1985 north of Emerson, she developed the disease’s severe flu-like symptoms. She pushed to persuade the medical community that the disease can persist for decades and a week before she died, went to Ottawa to support a Green Party MP’s bill to have a meeting of health ministers, doctors and patients’ groups to develop a national strategy for diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
March 15 — Rene Toupin, 79. He worked and volunteered. He was born in Craig Siding (Ste. Rita) and worked as a lumberjack, aircraft mechanic, manager of a Caisse populaire, and administrator of the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council. He was best known as the NDP MLA for Springfield when the Schreyer government came to power in 1969, serving in cabinet positions for four years. Later, he was national president of la La Fédération des aînés, president of the Fédération des aînées franco-manitobains, and vice-chairman of the Manitoba Council on Aging.
March 18 — Kanaye Matsuo, 94. She helped the local Japanese community. She was born in Vancouver, but later, her family was forced to move to Manitoba during the Second World War. Her family stayed after the war and she worked in local sewing factories. After she retired, she was recruited in 1987 as volunteer manager at the new Manitoba Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre. Mayor Glen Murray asked her to join him in the official Winnipeg delegation to Setagaya, Japan.
March 18 — Jeffrey Anderson. He was an award winning radio producer. His first journalism job was as music critic at the Winnipeg Free Press in the late 1950s. He went on to join CBC and produced award winning documentaries and national radio shows, including Sound Reviews. He was head of the CBC’s radio and television bureau in England and interviewed Malcolm Muggeridge and John Cleese. He produced a festival of Michael Tippett’s music in Toronto in 1980 before teaching broadcast journalism at the University of Western Ontario. He was on the board of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and wrote program notes.
March 19 — Heather Robertson, 72. She was an award winning author. She was born in Winnipeg and began her career at the Winnipeg Free Press. She published her first book, Reservations are for Indians, in 1970, and went on to write three more books of non-fiction, before writing novels, including Willie, A Romance, which won the Books in Canada Best First Novel award. She was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the U of M in 1998.
March 21 — Catherine Kerr (nee Gordon), 93. She was a champion swimmer. She came to Canada from Scotland as a baby. She won her first Canadian swimming championship at 14 and set her first national record two years later. In 1939 and 1940 she set Canadian and provincial records, won nine national titles and was nominated for Canadian female athlete of the year. She later won 17 provincial titles for synchronized swimming. She organized the Canadian Aquatic Hall of Fame and was president of the Winnipeg Synchronized Swimming Club and founding president of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Amateur Synchronized Swimming Association. She was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
March 25 — Bill Merritt. He entertained kids and adults. He played bass for Mood Jga Jga, was business manager of the Winnipeg Folk Festival for 17 years and co-founder of the Winnipeg International Children’s Festival.
March 29 — Jim Potton, 75. He loved nature. He grew up in Wisconsin where he became interested in conservation biology. He was a U.S. Air Force pilot for two years and later earned a Master’s degree in recreational management. He became assistant deputy minister of parks in Alberta and later served as Manitoba’s director of parks and director of the Manitoba Forestry Association for more than 25 years. He was also chairman for Envirothon, a high school environmental program. He was inducted into the Envirothon Hall of Fame in 2011 and named to the province’s Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 2013.
March 30 — Adam Rickner, 51. He was the creator of a local puppet. Born in Thunder Bay, he grew up in Winnipeg. A graphic artist, he was the puppeteer of "The Beave," featured on local television’s The Late Night with Bundy Review and The MTN Kids Club in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He went on to become a senior broadcast designer and was part of a team which won a Gemini Award for CBC’s Disclosure.
March 31 — Kathleen Brown. She helped the Queen and her family visit Manitoba. She grew up in Winnipeg, sang on CBC Radio and television and performed at Rainbow Stage. After her husband was appointed the Military Aide-de-Camp for Lieutenants-Governor starting in 1960, she was appointed private secretary for both Lt.-Gov. Francis Jobin and Pearl McGonigal. She was appointed the province’s first protocol officer in 1982 and then the chief of protocol in 1988 during which she coordinated visits by the royal family, heads of state, and governors general. Queen Elizabeth II named her a Member of the Royal Victorian Order, the first Manitoban to receive the honour.
April 4 — Jim Daun, 68. He defined canola. He received his science degree at the U of M and worked at AECL in Pinawa. He earned his Ph.D, specializing in the chemistry of rapeseed, the plant which canola was bred from. Rapeseed oil was so toxic it was banned for human consumption, but while with the Canadian Grain Commission he helped create the official definition of canola. He was president of the American Oil Chemists Society and was given an honorary life membership with the Canola Council of Canada and the Queen Elizabeth II silver jubilee medal.
April 5 — Judy Peake, 72. She was a champion tennis player. She attended Kelvin High School, the U of W, and the University of British Columbia. She won the silver medal at the Canada Summer Games in 1969, four Canadian Junior Tennis Championships, three Canadian Junior Badminton Championships and 29 Manitoba Tennis Championships. She was named the province’s female athlete of the year in 1970 and was inducted into the Tennis Manitoba Hall of Fame in 2008.
April 8 — Harvey Patterson, 89. He helped the labour movement. He was born on a farm in the RM of Roland and enlisted in the Second World War at 19. As a truck driver, he rose to become president of the Winnipeg Labour Council in the early 1970s, the chairman for the province’s panel on labour relations and the panel on human rights and consumer affairs. He was NDP MLA for Crescentwood in 1973 and in 1978 became executive secretary of the Winnipeg Labour Council.
April 21 — John Greene, 77. He was a businessman who helped the community. Born in Ontario, he began working for the firm that became Ernst and Young in Toronto in 1958 — he stayed for 39 years, many of them in Winnipeg. While here, he went into business with Duff Roblin and Alan Moore to own Metropol Security. He was also chairman of The Aeroguard Group. He was President of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the national board of the Victorian Order of Nurses.
April 27 — Gordon Mackie, 92. He helped fix athletes. He played baseball and hockey and pitched two no-hitters to help his team win the provincial baseball championship. After the Second World War, he became a professional boxer before again turning amateur. He became a physiotherapist in 1951 and soon was the therapist for the original Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Winnipeg Warriors hockey team. In 1959, he became trainer for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers until 1969, when he became head physiotherapist and trainer for all U of M Bison teams. He was president of the Manitoba Boxing and Wresting Federation. He was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame.
May 8 — Renate Eigenbrod, 69. She helped promote aboriginal literature. She was born in Germany and joined the University of Manitoba in 2002. She researched the role of aboriginal literature and how it helped discussion into genocide, reconciliation and redress. She was professor of aboriginal literatures and head of the native studies department in the faculty of arts at the time of her passing.
May 8 — Reg Harman, 91. He operated an iconic drug store. He earned a pharmacy degree at the University of Manitoba and took over his dad’s store, Harman’s Drug Store, at Portage and Sherbrook, featured in Where to Eat in Canada.
May 11 — Shirley Timm-Rudolph, 57. She worked for Transcona. Raised in the North End, she was an interior designer when first elected to city council in 1986. She was later elected twice in Transcona and chaired two committees. She lost a 2004 bid to become mayor and was then elected as a trustee to the River East-Transcona School Division. She was the driving force behind south Transcona’s the Lake Shirley Water Ski Park, used for water skiing at the 1999 Pan Am Games.
May 13 — Fred Dunsmore, 85. He was one of the province’s top athletes. He was an all-star high school quarterback at 15 and later led the Winnipeg Maroons hockey team to the Allan Cup championship in 1965. He played third base and pitched for the Rosedales and the St. Boniface Native Sons in the 1940s and 1950s, turning down pro contracts to become a chartered accountant. He went on to become vice president and general manager of Supercrete Ltd. He was a finalist in voting for Manitoba’s athlete of the century in 1970, and was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
May 15 — Gerald Law, 86. He helped build one of the province’s leading manufacturing companies. He was the third employee at E.H. Price Ltd. in 1950. By 1964, he was president and CEO and directed the company for 22 years, expanding it with offices and plants across North America and Hong Kong and Singapore. He became chairman of the company until retiring in 1990.
May 18 — Agnes Bishop. She helped children battle cancer. She started her pediatric residency in Halifax and moved to Winnipeg in 1966, later heading the department of pediatric hematology/oncology, the St. Boniface General Hospital’s pediatrics, and serving as chairwoman of the University of Manitoba’s pediatrics department. She was head of the Children’s Hospital from 1985 until becoming president of the Atomic Energy Board of Canada in 1994.
May 19 — Mel Bedard, 85. He played the fiddle. A barber, his passion for the fiddle brought him wins in numerous fcompetitions. He was the first Metis artist to record an album identified as Metis music and also put out several other albums.
May 23 — Marie Paradis, 81. She helped adults with special needs. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto in 1950, and taught for two decades in cities including St. Catharines, Barrie and Winnipeg. She founded L’Arche Winnipeg in 1973 and led the organization for seven years. She was elected to the Sisters of St. Joseph leadership team in 1982.
May 23 — Alen Hansen, 90. He helped people fly. Born in New Zealand, he trained as a wireless air gunner in Canada during the Second World War. He later obtained his business management certificate at the U of M, secured his pilot licence and flew for Trans Canada Pipelines. He volunteered with the Manitoba Provincial Committee of the Air Cadet League for more than two decades. He was president of the Wartime Pilots’ and Observers’ Association, chairman of the Winnipeg Flying Club’s Flying Committee and a founding member of the Western Canada Aviation Museum.
May 23 — Dave Wright, 54. He was our local Mick Jagger. He was dressed as Elvis on Halloween in 1981 when he happened upon the local Beatles tribute band Free Ride. The band called him up on stage and he later joined it so they could play music by both the Beatles and Elvis. Two years later, he also began dressing as Jagger so the band could do a third set portraying the Rolling Stones. He retired from the band in 2010.
May 26 — Percy Tuesday, 72. He played music. Born at the Big Grassy River Ojibway Nation, he went to six residential schools in 12 years. Known as ‘The Reverend", he was lead singer for The Feathermen Band in the 1960s, at the time one of the few travelling indigenous musical groups. He was inducted into the Aboriginal Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
May 27 — Judith Weiszmann, 84. She was saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and became the province’s first female engineer. Born in Hungary, her father had a close business contact in Sweden who arranged to secure a "Schutz-Pass", created by Wallenberg, saying they were under the protection of the Swedish Crown. After the war, she worked in Hungary but fled the country after the failed Hungarian Revolution. In Winnipeg, she had to write qualifying exams to become an engineer again after the Association of Professional Engineers of Manitoba, which she later served as a volunteer for 24 years, rejected her registration. She and her husband designed schools, banks, and other buildings. In 2012, her ‘Schutz Pass’ was used to create a commemorative stamp for Wallenberg in Sweden and also by Canada Post in 2013.
May 27 — William Danylchuk, 70. He served his RM of Tache. He was born in Zhoda and taught for 35 years, 30 of them at Lorette Collegiate. He served on the RM of Tache council as councillor, reeve and mayor for 40 years.
May 31 — Charles Lumsden. He played hockey and was also a Winnipeg Blue Bomber from 1952 to 1954. He was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs at 16 and played in a Memorial Cup final with the Winnipeg Monarchs. He played from 1952-1954 with the Pittsburgh Hornets, the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, before playing for the Winnipeg Warriors. He won the Allan Club in 1964 with the Winnipeg Maroons. He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
June 3 — Melville McFeetors, 80. He designed buildings. He studied architecture at the U of M and ran an architectural business for 40 years. He was a president of the Manitoba Association of Architects and was chairman of the advisory board for Marymound for 30 years. He was an original partner with the group that developed the Assessippi Ski Complex and Russell Inn complex in Russell.
June 5 — Lorraine Sweatman, 90. She led organizations to help her community. She was president of the Junior League, a member of the Board of Broadcast Governors which later became the CRTC, chairwoman of the Misericordia General Hospital Foundation, and the Misericordia Health Centre Board, and the Misericordia Corporations Board.
June 12 — John Burns, 85. He helped people with psychiatric illnesses. He graduated as an RN and psychiatric nurse in England in 1960 and came to work as tutor of nursing at the Selkirk Mental Hospital. He was promoted to head of the school of nursing and in 1965 he initiated the hospital to become the country’s first mental hospital to receive accreditation.
June 23 — Kevin Walters. He organized the festivals we went to. He was Manitoba Sound and Music’s manager of sound programs for 11 years. He organized Culture Days, the Winnipeg BBQ and Blues Festival, and the Junos in Winnipeg.
June 23 — Ray Frost, 86. If not for him, who knows where Bobby Clarke’s hockey career would have gone? He spent 40 years as a coach and manager in minor and junior hockey, starting with the Downing Parks Board team in 1944, and later managed the MJHL Winnipeg Rangers for a decade, including when they won the championship three times and were Western Canada finalists in 1961. While a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1967 to 1977, he was responsible for the drafting of Clarke and Jimmy Johnson. He was elected to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.
July 3 — David Mann, 53. His voice came through local radios and he later helped people with finances. He began working as a DJ and radio announcer while in high school at the Canadian Forces Base in Lahr, Germany. He began working as a radio announcer across the country and came to Winnipeg where he became the long running host for the Q94 morning show. He then went into business and founded Mann Financial Assurance Ltd.
July 11 — Ken Barker, 51. He helped people both before and after his death. He began working with the RCMP in 1987, before joining the Winnipeg Fire Department in 1991. He returned to the RCMP in 1994, and fulfilled his dream to become a dog handler. His postings included Winnipeg, Selkirk, and Dauphin. He was a member of the emergency response team and was one of the first officers on the scene of the grisly slaying on a Greyhound bus near Portage. He was honoured with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the RCMP long service medal, and a Commissioner’s commendation for bravery. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and was still being treated for it when he took his own life a month after retiring. The story about his death went across the country, raising awareness of PTSD in the RCMP and emergency workers, and resulting in more people coming forward for support.
July 14 — Sergio Glogowski, 61. A committed community supporter. He was born in Brazil and lived in Israel and Argentina before coming to Winnipeg. His day job was as power systems specialist at Monarch Industries. He was chairman and past vice-chairman of the Manitoba Ethnocultural Advisory and Advocacy Council, past president of the Argentinean Manitoban Association, president of the Jewish Heritage Centre, and on the board of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
July 15 — Murray Couch. He played hockey and baseball with the Winnipeg Monarchs, Warriors and Maroons, as well as the Canadian national team and the St. Boniface Native Sons. He won the Allan Cup while with the Winnipeg Maroons in 1964, and was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame both for his hockey and baseball prowess.
July 16 — James Haworth, 91. He cared for children. He was born in England and studied medicine there. He later practised at the Winnipeg Clinic and was an expert in children’s malnutrition and metabolic disorders. He was head of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Canadian Pediatric Society nutrition committee. He was executive director of the Medical Services Research Foundation for a decade and helped archive the history of the Children’s Hospital.
July 19 — Neil Wither, 79. He was a builder fresh out of high school. He bought Red River Construction in 1964. He served as president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, chairman of the Canadian Construction Association, and founder and spokesman of The Road Improvement Program. He was also chairman of the Manitoba Housing Corporation from 1996 to 1999, chairman of Knox United Church, and president of the Southwood Golf and Country Club.
Aug. 1 — Dale Hughesman, 51. He loved to play on ice and grass. He was born in Winnipeg and went to the University of Winnipeg on a hockey scholarship before joining his dad in the family business Esdale Printing. He was president of the East St. Paul Community Centre and Pine Ridge Golf Club, chairman of the board of governors of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, board member of the River East Minor Hockey Association and owner and governor of the Selkirk Steelers.
Aug. 1 — John Murphy, 78. He spun country music tunes. Known as "Johnny," he worked 55 years as a disc jockey across Canada, including Portage la Prairie. He wrote a column in the Free Press for eight years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He won a Juno award, a Canadian Country Music award and three DJ of the year awards from the Manitoba Country Music Association. He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Aug. 11 — Norm Donogh, 91. He participated in D-Day during the Second World War with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. On his return, he worked as a teacher and then as a reporter and columnist with the Free Press. He joined the provincial government first in the industry and commerce department and later as aide-de-camp for Lt. Gov. Pearl McGonigal.
Aug. 18 — Peter Cottingham, 92. He fought for many causes. He was a member of the American-Canadian "Devil’s Brigade" Second World War commando unit which received the Congressional Gold Medal after President Barack Obama signed the bill. In Neepawa, he wrote his memoir, Once Upon a Wartime. He was the local United Way chairman, was voted to the school board and town council and founded the company that developed the Mount Agassiz ski resort.
Aug. 19 — Charles Ferguson, 82. He was a champion for children. He received his medical degree at McGill University in 1957 and worked in Canada and Europe. He completed his pediatric residency and went on to co-publish in 1973 the first paper on child abuse in Canada. He was the U of M’s professor of pediatrics, director of the Children’s Clinic at Children’s Hospital, chairman of the board at Mount Carmel Clinic, and co-founder of the Child Protection Centre.
Sept. 1 — William Tkachuk, 83. He was a key force in Vita. He was born in Gardenton, but moved to Menisino in 1943, where he bought his first farm at 17. He was Reeve for the RM of Piney from 1975 to 1977 and served as Boundary School Division chairman and trustee for 24 years. He was also chairman of the Vita and District Health Centre and a member of the Vita and District Health Centre Foundation.
Sept. 2 — Susan Deane. She helped people. She came to Canada from India in 1984, after working with impoverished people. She was principal and CEO of the International College of Manitoba, helping it grow from 33 students in 2009 to more than 1,000 per year. She was on the board of the Assiniboine Credit Union for 12 years and its chairwoman during its merger with the Astra and Vantis Credit Unions.
Sept. 9 — Ted Pawlyk, 77. He played tunes on radio, working as a disc jockey starting at CFRY in Portage la Prairie, before moving on to other stations including WGR Buffalo and WNFN New York. He left on air to work in sales, returning to radio years later in retirement with CJNU nostalgia radio and CKVN community radio.
Sept. 12 — Donald Chubey, 88. He helped create a junior hockey trophy. He served with the Canadian army in the Second World War and was a lifetime legion member. He was president of the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans and was instrumental in creating the Anavet Cup for junior hockey, awarded from 1971 until 2012, when it was merged to create the Western Canada Cup.
Sept. 13 — Bert Kroeker, 86. He helped Manitoba students play a tune. Born in Winkler, he graduated from the U of M, started as an English teacher and then became a principal of several schools, including Golden Gate Junior High in St. James and Fort Richmond Collegiate. He also directed school musical productions, had a major impact on the formation of band programs and helped found the Manitoba Band Association. The Manitoba Choral Association’s Bert Kroeker Scholarship Fund recognizes his contributions. He was also choir director at Sturgeon Creek United Church for 50 years.
Sept. 15 — Wayne Tefs, 66. He wrote books and helped fellow authors. He was born in Winnipeg and raised in northwestern Ontario. One of his books, Bandit, won five nominations at the 2012 Manitoba Book Awards and his 2007 novel, Be Wolf, won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. He published 13 books with Barker released after his death. He co-founded Turnstone Press in 1976, and helped the careers of Miriam Toews, Di Brandt, and Margaret Sweatman.
Sept. 17 — Jack MacDonald, 88. He helped people hit a birdie. A chartered accountant, he rose to vice president at Gambles Canada Ltd., before joining his brother in buying his uncle’s store, MacDonald Shoe Store. He was involved with badminton for more than 50 years, playing until he had a knee injury, and then working with administration. He was president of the Manitoba Badminton Association, president of the Canadian Badminton Association, and also president of the St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg. He was honoured with the International Badminton Federation’s meritorious service award and was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and Canadian Badminton Hall of Fame in 2009.
Sept. 22 — Chickie Shapira. She helped actors. A pianist and musician in Vancouver, she moved moving back to Winnipeg and married Jack Shapira, working at Rainbow Stage and founding the Manitoba School for Theatre and Allied Arts.
Sept. 23 — Laurette Rouillard, 82. She promoted French through her acting. She worked at St. Boniface Hospital in various roles, began acting at Cercle Molière in 1974 and went on to perform in 33 plays, as well as appearing on television, radio, in commercials, and in National Film Board productions. She was honoured with Le prix Réseau for her contributions to French-language arts.
Sept. 27 — Wally Hergesheimer, 87. Known as the Garbage Collector, he won the Red Garrett Memorial Award as the American Hockey League rookie of the year in 1950-51. He played six seasons in the NHL, with 310 games with the New York Rangers and 41 with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring 114 goals and 85 assists. He was fourth in scoring behind Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Maurice "Rocket" Richard in 1953 and played in the 1953 and 1956 all star games, setting a record of two goals in two minutes. His nickname came from his prowess for knocking in rebounds in front of the net. He was inducted into both the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Oct. 5 — Alex Gyori, 55. He was a world class shooter, loved to hunt and participated in numerous competitions. He won two gold medals at the 1995 Pan-Am Games and went on to win Canadian and provincial championships.
Oct. 8 — Bruce MacMillan, 90. He moved grain. He was born in Winnipeg and spent his entire working career at James Richardson and Sons Ltd. He started at the company’s Toronto grain office, was transferred to the Winnipeg head office in 1965 and rose to become president of Pioneer Grain Ltd., and then chairman of Pioneer Grain and Topnotch Feeds. He was chairman of the Canada Grains Council and the board of governors of the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange.
Oct. 17 — Lindor Reynolds, 56. She was an award-winning journalist. She had her first article published in the Free Press when she was 17, before working in the composing room. She received her bachelor of journalism degree and worked at the Winnipeg Sun. After moving and living in Montserrat, she began freelancing and wrote books including The Green Guide to Winnipeg. She joined the Free Press as a columnist in 1994. She was honoured with three Michener nominations, a national newspaper award in 2013, and the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award for leading the paper’s Pennies from Heaven campaign for a decade and co-chairing the Victoria General Hospital’s Medicine and Miracles fundraising campaign.
Oct. 25 — Sugrim Bahadoosingh, 84. He served the community. He was born in Trinidad and moved to Winnipeg in 1971. He was president of the Sri Sathya Baba Centre of Winnipeg and chairman and president of Agape Table.
Oct. 27 — Reginald Robertson, 89. He made steel. He graduated from the University of Strathclyde and later helped design the Number 4 Mill at Manitoba Rolling Mills. He was president and CEO of Manitoba Rolling Mills.
Oct. 27 — Chiu Wong, 79. He was a world-renowned chemist. He was born in China and fled to Hong Kong in 1949. He came to Canada and received his Ph.D in chemistry. He taught chemistry at the University of Manitoba for 27 years, helped develop anti-cancer medicines and was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Nov. 6 — Helen Riddell. She helped entertain peole. She opened Sherwin Park restaurant in 1973, and went on to open two more. She went into the entertainment business with her sons, opening the Blue Note Cafe and the Spectrum Cabaret.
Nov. 11 — Phil Rebeck, 84. He led his community. He and ran the East St. Paul family store and a gravel hauling business. He was a councillor and Reeve of East St. Paul for 27 years and helped build the East St. Paul Community Club.
Nov. 15 — Jim Pearn, 93. He drove a museum into reality. He apprenticed at the Winnipeg Flying Club and served with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War. He worked for the Ministry of Transport for three decades, rising to superintendent of aircraft maintenance. His hobby was antique cars and service station memorabilia. He and his wife donated a $1 million collection to the RM of Headingley and by 2004, with a building constructed, 27 trailer loads of memorabilia were put inside Jim’s Vintage Garages, officially opened in 2005.
Nov. 25 — Hugh Gainsford, 96. He was a direct descendent to Canada’s first Prime Minister. He was named after his grandfather and he was the great-grandson of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and grandson of Premier Hugh John Macdonald. For years he would lead tours and volunteer at his grandfather’s former house, the Dalnavert Museum. He worked as a liquor commission inspector. He was honoured with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for his community service in 1977.
Nov. 30 — Stan Hatcher, 82. His career was nuclear. He graduated with his Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto and joined Atomic Energy of Canada in Chalk River then at the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment. He became president and CEO of AECL in 1989. He later served as president of the Pacific Nuclear Council and the American Nuclear Society. He won the Global Award from the International Nuclear Societies Council.
Dec. 1 — Donald Bennett, 69. He helped southern Manitoba. He joined the air force and was stationed in Canada and Germany. An accountant, he served on the Morden Corn and Apple Committee and as Manitoba and Northern Ontario Governor for the Kinsmen Club of Canada.
Dec. 2 — Gerry DeLeeuw, 88. He played in the mud. He played junior football in St. Vital before serving in the Second World War. He joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after the war, playing guard and tackle. Twice an all star, he and playing in the infamous Mud Bowl, the 38th Grey Cup in 1950. He later became a house builder.
Dec. 5 — Bob Martin, 88. He helped teach future psychologists. Born and educated in the United States, he taught psychology at the University of South Dakota and University of Colorado Medical School before coming to the U of M as head of the section of behavioural science at the Psychology Department. He served as president of the Psychological Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Association of Medical School Professors of Psychology. He was honoured with the gold medal of the CPA.
Dec. 6 — Robert Taubner. He helped the local Hungarian community. He was born in Hungary and fled the country during the Soviet crackdown in 1956. He came to Winnipeg and spent three decades working for Great West Life Insurance. He founded the city’s Magyar House, wrote the Hungarian-language newspaper, and served as Hungarian translator for the city’s hospitals, courts, and education boards.
Dec. 11 — Joseph Yuen, 72. He represented the city and its Chinese community. Born in Shanghai, he came to Winnipeg in 1963. He went to the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg and graduated with three Bachelors degrees. He was a pharmacist in Winnipeg and Rankin Inlet and served on the board of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association. A city councillor from 1989 to 1992, he was also president of the Folk Arts Council and volunteered with the Chinese Pavilion. He helped establish the Winnipeg Chinese Community Centre and helped create a stamp to mark the Jubilee of Boy Scouts of Canada. He was honoured with the Canada 125 award in 1992 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.
Dec. 20 — Allan Zelickson, 93. You can pick your own licence plate thanks to him. He served in the Second World War and worked for a radio and furniture company before joining the provincial government as a clerk. He rose to become the Director of Licensing in the Department of Motor Vehicles and was responsible for creating personalized licence plates. He was invited by Premier Ed Schreyer to participate in the preliminary designing of Autopac.
Dec. 30 — Ian MacKenzie, 91. He cared about his community. He had been advertising manager at the Daily Graphic in Portage la Prairie for several years when he bought the paper. He was the paper’s owner and publisher for 43 years until selling it to Bowes Publishing in 1988. He went on to serve a term a councillor and was elected as Portage’s mayor from 1999 to 2005. He was honoured by the Lions Club with its B.J. Ben Ward Fellowship Award for exemplary service to the community.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
The Great Winnipeg Gold Robbery — the country’s largest theft of gold — culminated in its mastermind escaping jail before his trial, fleeing to Indiana in a stolen plane and being re-arrested after a standoff.
But when St. James Police Department Const. Ernie Carlton went to the airport after the initial call came in on March 1, 1966, he thought it was going to be just a shipping mix up. Carlton is one of a diminishing number of police officers involved in the case who can still talk about it.
George Dunmall (at right in picture above), at the time a detective-sergeant with the St. James Police Department, and one of the chief investigators of the gold caper, died on Nov. 29. He was 94.
Ken Leishman, known as the Flying Bandit, was serving a prison sentence in Stony Mountain Institution for a botched hold-up at a Toronto bank, when he started planning the robbery. He had earlier watched planes flying in and out of Winnipeg’s airport and had noticed gold bars from the mine in Red Lake, Ont., passed through on their way to the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa.
He hatched a scheme where he and his accomplices were able to steal a waybill in advance, buy winter coveralls, stitch on the Air Canada logo, and have another accomplice in Red Lake let them know when a plane with gold was on its way.
Once Leishman got the call, two thieves went to the airport, took an Air Canada truck, drove up to the TransAir plane and told the crew procedures had changed and the gold had to be transferred to the truck.
After 12 bars were loaded, they drove off, hid the gold in Leishman’s car and abandoned the truck. They then drove to lawyer Harry Backlin’s house and hid them in his freezer.
Carlton said he and his partner on the day of the robbery, Elmer Blanchard, were on the periphery of the investigation.
“We were backing out our cruiser to go to another call when the sergeant comes running out of the station and says ‘forget that call, there’s something about missing gold so go to the airport,’” Carlton recalled recently.
“I had worked with the railroad for eight years before joining the police so I figured the waybill had made it, but not the gold. I expected a screw-up with the shipment had happened.”
That changed when the officers got to the airport. They spoke with an RCMP officer, normally the one to watch the gold as it passed through on its way to Ottawa, but he said the workers with TransAir had already transferred the gold to Air Canada personnel, but not at the usual place. They began to suspect something more than a screw-up.
Blanchard, Carlton’s partner, said recently that the brazen theft is still “shocking” to him. “We didn’t know what we were getting into when we went to the airport.”
Leishman’s plan was to transfer the gold bricks to his uncle’s farm, but that was thwarted when Winnipeg was paralyzed by the blizzard of March 4, 1966. Before they could be moved, police found 10 of them under more than a metre of snow in Backlin’s backyard. An 11th bar was found in Backlin’s office while the final bar wasn’t found until June of that year, buried in the bush near a bridge across the Assiniboine River in Headingley.
According to the Free Press, Dunmall was at Backlin’s office when the bar was found there and he helped interrogate the lawyer, who was later to serve 20 months for his part in the robbery.
Dunmall’s obituary said he had led many investigations in more 30 years on the St. James Police Department and the amalgamated Winnipeg Police Department.
Carlton praised Dunmall, who retired in 1979, as a skilful detective. “I never heard him raise his voice once,” he said.
“He was small and soft spoken. And he was brave. When I first met him, I didn’t think he was any type of heroic type of person, but I later learned he was a war hero during the Second World War. His job, with the air force, was to fly agents in and out of occupied territory. His instructions were on landing that if they heard gunfire you had to goose it and get out of there. It was a dangerous job.”
Scotty Gardiner (in picture above at left, with Det. Reg Webb in centre), the then-RCMP corporal tasked with heading the overall investigation of the three departments — RCMP, St. James Police, and Winnipeg Police — said Dunmall was “a very thorough investigator. He was very full of character.
“If he gave you a commitment to do something, it was done thoroughly. I liked working with him. George was one of the reliable ones. If you phoned him up he would do the job. He was one of the stalwarts in my memory.”
Leishman was arrested and put into Headingley Jail, but escaped with other convicts, made his way to Steinbach, commandeered a plane and flew to Gary, Ind., where he was arrested after a standoff with police.
Leishman was sentenced to eight years in prison on top of the six years from his parole violations from the Toronto bank heist sentence. He was paroled in the 1970s, after a mistake was discovered in tallying concurrent and consecutive sentences, and he moved to Red Lake, where he later became a prominent businessman. Leishman was pronounced dead, along with a nurse and a patient, months after crashing in northwestern Ontario during a 1979 air ambulance flight.
Gardiner said the 1966 trial of the five accused involved more than 100 witnesses and 140 exhibits.
“Anytime gold is involved with anything, people will remember it,” he said. “And this was a very skilful plan. But it was also a pretty smart group of investigators who solved it in 10 days.”
Carlton said his only other duties on the case were staking out the home of one of the suspects for a few days — and carrying the gold bricks. “I walked the gold every day to the court from the Bank of Canada,” he said. “I did that every day until the judge allowed them in as evidence. They were very deceiving — you didn’t realize how heavy they were until you lifted them. They were very dense. An alderman — I won’t say who — tried picking one up, but gave up.”
Carlton said Dunmall was entrusted with one more important duty — keeping the gold bars safe. “We had them all in Dunmall’s office when they were first found. Elmer had to stay all night to guard them there.”
Updated on Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 10:41 AM CST: Alters wording.
11:48 AM: Corrects wording.