Free Press
Generous spirit taught during Depression
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Generous spirit taught during Depression

Doris Martiniuk and her little brother received their first life lesson while helping people who were out of work and riding the rails during the Great Depression.

Martiniuk saw the generosity of her parents as they helped feed people from their own garden and kitchen table.

The two kids decided to follow their lead one day and, without their mother knowing it, gave away all of her freshly baked pies.

Unfortunately, the children didn’t realize they had also given away all of the family’s pie tins at the same time.

But it was that spirit of generosity that carried through Martiniuk’s life.

Martiniuk was 97 when she died on Dec. 22, during her favourite time of day — dusk — to join her beloved husband, Andrew, who died more than three decades before her.

She met that shy, tall and dark-haired man at the original Half Moon hotdog stand north of the city, and married him in Toronto when they were 19 and 20. Due to sudden ill health, they later returned to Manitoba and, while her husband commuted to Winnipeg, Martiniuk began working at the TD Bank in Selkirk.

Martiniuk stayed home when their three daughters came and, because of their parents’ health issues, each was raised to be self-sufficient, resourceful, broadminded and faithful.

After the youngest daughter started school, Martiniuk went back to work, this time at the newly opened ScotiaBank in Selkirk. She excelled there, receiving many awards. She eventually retired at age 57 as the branch’s assistant manager.

That’s when Martiniuk became a trailblazer. She became the first woman in Manitoba to become a small business consultant with Federal Business Development Bank.

And, with the generosity she learned from her parents, Martiniuk volunteered as a leader with the Girl Guides, with her church, at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s office and the Children’s Hospital Book Mart.

She even learned Spanish and became a “den mother” for one of the South American residences during the Pan Am Games in 1999, with one of the athletes so grateful he gave her the flowers he received with his bronze medal.

Over the last 17 years, advancing vascular dementia slowly took away Martiniuk’s memory and cognitive powers, but the family says it never took away her essence or spirit.

Martiniuk is survived by her three daughters and several nieces and nephews. Read more about Doris. 

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason, Reporter

Kevin Rollason

How They Lived

Lily Goritz was born south of Steinbach in 1929, later moving with her family to Dencross, Man., when she was about nine. At that time, Dencross, located east of Libau, was considered unorganized territory and there were no schools.

Goritz, who died on Dec. 30 at 92, grew up helping on the family farm and later raised turkeys to sell at Thanksgiving. She sold them as far away as Kenora until she was fined for illegally selling in another province.

She moved to Winnipeg and later worked her way up to dishroom supervisor at the Health Sciences Centre, where she was respected by her co-workers. Read more about Lily. 




Adrien Perras lived to 67, thanks to an unknown kidney donor when he was 22.

Perras, who died on Dec. 23, became a probation officer, got married and had a daughter, and lived his life with a tremendous amount of joy and activity — until about four years ago, when he again needed dialysis.

His brother agreed to donate one of his kidneys, and the surgery was successful — but tragically Perras died from surgical complications. Read more about Adrien.



Georges Toupin always said he read the obituaries to make sure his name wasn’t there; unfortunately he won’t be reading this one.

Toupin, who died on Dec. 13, at 97, worked in construction. During the Second World War he helped build radar stations, and he was able to transfer those skills into civilian life. He started his own business building commercial buildings, houses, and cottages in Winnipeg, Northwestern Ontario, and British Columbia. With a partner, he opened and operated the Cartwright Hotel in southern Manitoba.

Toupin was also related to a former premier; his daughter’s husband is Greg Selinger. Read more about Georges. 



John Houlden started running later in life — and he kept running longer than most.

Houlden, who died on Dec. 27 at 97, started running in races when he was 48.

He kept running until his final races when he was 90 at the Canadian 55-plus Games in 2014. He won four gold medals there. Read more about John.




Brian Darragh loved Winnipeg’s former streetcars, but that came naturally — he was the last surviving operator of them.

Darragh, who died on Dec. 20 age at 93, also wrote a book about the period called The Streetcars of Winnipeg — Our Forgotten Heritage. He also volunteered for a committee raising funds to renovate one of the streetcars.

His family has asked for donations to restore Streetcar 356. Read more about Brian. 



A Life’s Story

Vickie Czarnecki was so indispensable to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that she is the first and only woman inducted into its Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.

Czarnecki, who died at 91 on Sept. 11, was hired by the Bombers as an executive assistant way back in 1954, and later took on a number of front-office roles, becoming basically the team’s office manager.

Vickie Czarnecki at the 2001 Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Blue Bombers general manager Lyle Bauer. (Supplied)

“Everything went through Vickie,” recalled legendary head coach Bud Grant to writer Jim Timlick. Grant led the team to four Grey Cup victories in the late 1950s and early 1960s before moving on to coach the Minnesota Vikings.

“She kept track of everything. She could decipher if something was important or very important or not important at all.”

Read more about Czarnecki’s life. 




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



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