Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Richard Westall Cooke (1903-1982)

Community activitist.

Born at Yorkshire, England, he emigrated to Canada with his parent in 1910 and settled at Stonewall. He left school at an early age to help support the family, working as a clerk, teller, accountant and manager for the Bank of Hamilton (later the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce). He later worked for the printing firm of Saults and Pollard Limited, rising to the position of Secretary-Treasurer and Director over 42 years, until his retirement in 1968.

Music was a major influence in his life. He sang in church choirs and choral groups from the age of 7, becoming a choice director as a young man. At 17 he became a member of the then-famous Winnipeg Male Voice Choir, serving later as its Secretary-Treasurer and President. He was involved in the Men’s Music Club of Winnipeg and its sponsorship of the Manitoba Music Festival. In 1975 the Club established the Richard W. Cooke Trophy for outstanding vocal performance. He became its President for several years and under his term the Association of Manitoba Festivals was established. He helped in the founding of the national Federation of Canadian Music Festivals, serving as its Secretary-Treasurer.

In 1980, the Federation established the Richard W. Cooke Trophy. He was a member of community committees which sponsored the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and two other committees which were responsible for founding the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Rainbow Stage. In 1979 he was the first Manitoban to receive a medal from the Canada Music Council. He received a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977) and was inducted into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1981).

He died at Winnipeg on 11 July 1982 and was buried in St. James Cemetery.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 July 1982.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 October 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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