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Memorable Manitobans: Nixon John Breen (1872-1954)

Business executive.

Born at Einniskillen, Ireland, 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 W. W. Breen and T. G. Breen, 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 had one daughter. Brother-in-law of J. W. Melvin. He was a member of the Carleton Club, Manitoba Club, Motor Country Club, and St. Charles Country Club.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 25 Ruskin Row, on 26 December 1954.

See also:

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


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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 June 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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