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Memorable Manitobans: John Dixon Craig (1877-1946)

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John Dixon Craig
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Engineer, actor, drama teacher.

Born at Toronto, Ontario on 20 September 1877, son of Thomas Dixon Craig and Annie Girvin, he graduated with a BSc in Engineering from the University of Toronto and worked as a contracting engineer, building electric lighting plants and water works. On 15 August 1908, he married Emily Irene Morphy at Toronto. They came to Winnipeg in 1921 where he took an engineering job and, with no previous theatrical experience, he became a charter member of the Winnipeg Community Players, appearing in its first production of The Pigeon. He also did stage management for the group and he supervised and trained technical staff. He directed critically admired productions of Ghosts (1925), The Tragedy of Nan (1926), and Man with a Load of Mischief.

In 1928, he quit his job and moved with his wife to Oshawa, Ontario to take the job of director with the newly formed Oshawa Little Theatre. He returned to Winnipeg in 1930 to become the first paid director of the Winnipeg Community Players, later renamed the Winnipeg Little Theatre. Over a period of six years, he produced such shows as The Circle, Juno and the Paycock, A Doll’s House, Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, The Queen’s Husband, Outward Bound, Hay Fever, Secret Service, Cyrano de Bergerac, Elizabeth the Queen, Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, and Peer Gynt.

In 1936, the theatre company had a budget deficit and was disbanded. Craig joined the teaching staff of United College and the University of Manitoba while continuing to work with various drama groups. He and his wife conducted workshops in drama and stagecraft until he suffered a fatal heart attack at one such workshop, at Gimli, on 15 July 1946. He was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.

Sources:

Ontario marriage registration, Ancestry.

1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

“John Craig, Little Theatre director, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 July 1946, page 13.

“John Craig dies at Gimli,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 July 1946. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]

“John Craig,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 July 1946, page 20.

Obituary [E. Irene Craig], Winnipeg Free Press, 24 May 1968, page 29.

The Canadian Encyclopedia.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 October 2014

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