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Memorable Manitobans: William Nelson Denike (1871-1948)


Born near Belleville, Ontario in January 1871, his career as a teacher spanned nearly 50 years. He trained as a teacher in Cobourg, Ontario and after teaching at White School near Norham and moving to Manitoba (1891) to teach and farm around Altamont, La Riviere, and Carman, he attended Normal School in Winnipeg (1893). After this, he worked at McKenzie School (1893) and then was at Cypress River School (1894-1900). In 1900, he became Principal of Carman School where he taught until coming to Winnipeg in 1904. He was later Principal of Argyle School (1905-1917), Maple Leaf School (1917-1919), Ralph Brown School (1919-1935), and John M. King School (1935-1938). He retired in 1938 and was remembered as a devoted teacher who was committed to the profession.

On 2 October 1896, he married May Hester Venner at Cypress River. They had four sons: Kelvin I. Denike (b 1900), Lyell Rhodes Denike (b 1902), Grant Nelson Denike (b 1906), and Emerson Hally Denike (b 1909). Over the years, he sent an estimated 2,500 specimens of flowering plants, grasses, sedges and ferns growing in Manitoba to Ottawa. He had a particular interest in the Mentors’ Club and projects concerning child welfare.

He died at Winnipeg on 2 September 1948.


1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Veteran principal, William Denike dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 September 1948, [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 44]

Turning Leaves: A History of La Riviere and District by La Riviere Historical Book Committee, c1979. [Manitoba Legislative Library, F5649.L38 Tur]

“Remembering Mr. Denike” by Vince Leah, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 February 1990, NE section, page 14.

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This profile was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 February 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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