Memorable Manitobans: William Alexander “Bill” Dueck (1918-2009)
Educator, community activist.
Born at Kharkov, Ukraine on 13 May 1918, the third child of Abram H. Dueck (c1885-1970) and Agatha Dueck (c1888-1975), he immigrated with his family to Canada in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution in 1924. They settled at Beechy, Saskatchewan and farmed there for 13 years, during which he attended school at Main Centre and Rosthern, graduating grade 12 in 1937. He and his parents moved to Manitoba shortly thereafter, and took up residence in North Kildonan. He attended the Central Normal School (1938) and taught at Norway School near Elie, followed with posts at schools in East St. Paul and North Kildonan, including at Donald McLeod School (1939-1940).
He met Olga Neufeld (1918-2007) while a choir member at the North Kildonan Mennonite Church. The couple married on 3 August 1941 and had four children. He taught near Arborg for two years, including at Ardal School before opting for alternative service and working at the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost of Oxford House during the Second World War. He returned to teaching at the Manitoba Commercial College around 1950 and earned BSc (1950), BEd (1953), MEd (1966) degrees from the University of Manitoba.
He spent two years at the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute and 32 years with the Winnipeg School Division, as a teacher at Dufferin School (1952-1956) and George V School (1959-1966), Vice-Principal at Isaac Brock School (1966-1968), and Principal at River Elm School (1968-1972) and Ralph Brown School (1972-1984). During his time at the latter, he was a leading force behind the establishment of the first Ukrainian Immersion School in Winnipeg. Following retirement in 1984, he and his wife spent winters in Florida and Texas, and travelled abroad. His hobbies included genealogy, golfing, bowling, and Camp Arnes cottage life. He was a charter member of North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church, Treasurer (1974) of the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association, and was involved in the construction of many homes in North Kildonan.
In 2005, he moved to Donwood Manor and died there on 25 November 2009 with burial at Glen Eden Memorial Garden.
“Principal cleared of assault charge,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 April 1970, page 1.
Obituary [Abram H. Dueck], Winnipeg Free Press, 29 June 1970, page 32.
“River-Elm tea sale,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 May 1971, page 29.
“Speeding causing concern,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 May 1974, page 14.
[Photo caption], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 1974, page 10.
Obituary [Agatha Dueck], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 October 1975, page 30.
“Parents push for new school,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 1981, page 2.
Obituary [Olga Dueck], Winnipeg Free Press, 25 October 2007, page 37.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 November 2009, page 55.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
Winnipeg School Division: Celebrating One Hundred Fifty Years, 1871-2021 by Winnipeg School Division, 2021.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 1 April 2023