Manitoba Historical Society
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Manitoba Organization: Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Founded in 1939 by Betty Farrally and Gweneth Lloyd, it gained the Royal honorific in 1953 from Queen Elizabeth II. In 2014, its establishment was designated an Event of National Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Quick Facts:

  • The company was founded as the Winnipeg Ballet Club in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, and in 1949, became Canada’s first professional ballet company.
  • The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
  • In 1953, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet became the first ballet company in the British Commonwealth to be granted a Royal charter by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, the company became known to Canadians through its well-received national tours, which included many small towns, building appreciation for ballet across the country.
  • Under artistic director Arnold Spohr, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet rose to international fame, becoming one of North America’s most widely-travelled dance companies by the late 1970s.

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Betty Farrally (1915-1989)

Memorable Manitobans: Gweneth Lloyd (1901-1993)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Plaques for Persons, Events and Sites of National Historic Significance


New Releases and Backgrounders: The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Parks Canada.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 December 2014

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