Memorable Manitobans: James Couper Duncan (1916-1966)
Born at Winnipeg on 24 June 1916, son of Maggie Henderson Couper, he received BA (1938) and BEd (1960) degrees from the University of Manitoba. He taught at St. James schools until 1941 when he enlisted in the Canadian military, rising to the rank of Major, and being awarded a Military Cross for gallantry in northwestern Europe.
In September 1946, he joined the teaching staff of the Winnipeg School Division at Gordon Bell High School (1946-1955) where he produced and directed Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. He later worked as Administrative Assistant for the School Board (1955-1964) and Deputy Assistant Superintendent (1964-1966).
Active in Winnipeg's musical community, he was a baritone lead singer in the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and had a local television half-hour show called “Our Town”. For many years he directed a singing group known as the James Duncan Singers on CBC radio and television. In June 1965, the 35-voice group was renamed The Internationals. He performed in musicals at the International Inn's Hollow Mug. He was choir director at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (1950-1952) and St. Andrew's River Heights United Church (1952-1966). He produced musical comedies at Rainbow Stage.
On 29 June 1940, he married Eileen Valentine Vollet (1915-2008) at Winnipeg and they had five children.
He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 29 December 1966 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
Birth registration [James Couper Duncan], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Marriage registration [James Couper Duncan, Eileen Valentine Vollet], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Musician, educationist, James Duncan, 50, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 December 1966.
“School official dies at 50,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 December 1966.
“James Duncan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 January 1967.
Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 3 January 1967.
Obituary [Eileen Valentine Duncan], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 February 2008.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 10 December 2022