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Memorable Manitobans: Elizabeth Hepworth “Betty” Feniak (1920-2013)


Born on a farm near Shoal Lake, Manitoba on 17 June 1920, daughter of Joseph Hepworth and Lillian Margaret Wherrett, she was educated at Wolfe Creek School, Strathclair High School, and the University of Manitoba, winning an Isbister scholarship on graduating first in her Home Economics class. She received an MSc in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. In 1945, she married Michael Feniak and, two years later, they moved to Yellowknife, NWT where her husband was the first federal geologist in Canada’s North. In 1949, her husband drowned and she moved to Winnipeg with her two children, beginning a teaching career in the Faculty of Home Economics at the University of Manitoba. She later earned a PhD and served as Department Head, Acting Dean, and Associate Dean prior to retirement in 1985. She and a graduate student, Charlotte Moore, piloted the “Meals on Wheels” program and she served as President of the Provincial Council of Women, the Canadian Home Economics Association, and Chair of the Canadian Home Economics Foundation. In recognition of her community service, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977) and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). In 1988, she was inducted into the Order of Canada. She was also named a “Woman of Distinction” by the YWCA (1982) and was a life member of the National Council of Women, Manitoba Council of Women, and Manitoba Women’s Institute (1985). She died at Winnipeg on 7 April 2013 and was buried in Shoal Lake Cemetery.


Marriage registration [Joseph Hepworth], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Economist awarded Order of Canada,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 1988, page 58.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 April 2013, page B9.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 12 April 2013

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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