Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Nixon John Breen (1872-1954)

Business executive.

Born at Einniskillen, Ireland in 1872, brother of William Wright Breen and Thomas George Breen, he came to Canada as a child, in 1882. He moved to Winnipeg at the age of 10 and was educated here. He first gained a reputation as a hockey player in the 1890s. He began a business career in the traffic department of the Canadian Pacific Railway. After working there for six years, he joined the staff of the Lake of the Woods Milling Company, as a clerk and bookkeeper. In 1922 he became Western General Manager of the firm, then General Manager in 1931. He retired the next year but remained a director of the company as well as President of a subsidiary, the Sunset Manufacturing Company. He also served as President of the Medicine Hat Milling Company and was a Director of the Inter-City Western Bakeries Limited and Spiers Parnell Baking Company.

He served on the board of the Winnipeg Electric Company, Great-West Life Assurance Company, and Manitoba Power Commission. In 1910, with his brothers, he founded Breen Motor Sales, one of oldest automobile sales agencies in Canada. The firm was sold in August 1954. For 26 years starting in 1928 he was President of the North West Fire Insurance Company. He became a Director of the Winnipeg Jockey Club in 1932, serving as President from 1941 until 1954, when he was succeeded by M. A. O’Hara.

He and wife Helen Sullivan (1882-1962) had one daughter, Eleanor Mary “Bunty” Breen (1912-1989, wife of Dr. K. C. McGibbon). He was a member of the Carleton Club, Manitoba Club, Motor Country Club, and St. Charles Country Club. Brother-in-law of J. W. Melvin.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 25 Ruskin Row, on 26 December 1954 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.

Brother-in-law of James Albert Davidson.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Breen Motor Company Building (245 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Breen House (25 Ruskin Row, Winnipeg)


Birth registration [Eleanor Mary Breen], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“N. J. Breen dies at 82 in Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1954.

Obituary [Mrs. Nixon John Breen], Winnipeg Free Press, 1 October 1962, page 34.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 December 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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