Memorable Manitobans: John Willan “Jack” Graham (1922-2007)
Educator, community activist.
Born at Lousana, Alberta on 15 November 1922, he developed a passionate interest in art, design and nature from an early age. He began school in Edmonton at Norwood School and completed his schooling at Wilkie, Saskatchewan. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in Architecture and Design in 1943. He worked in the Engineering Department at Canada Car in Fort William, Ontario. He moved to Winnipeg in early 1945 where he began a teaching career at the University of Manitoba which continued until his retirement. He was appointed a Fellow of the R.A.I.C., and was Acting Dean for a number of years and later Associate Dean.
He served as the head of Stagecraft Department at the Banff School of Fine Arts for many summers. He also designed sets and costumes for the University of Manitoba Glee Club, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Rainbow Stage, and the Playhouse Theatre. He was the art critic for the Winnipeg Free Press for many years, was President and board member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, served on the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall Building Committee and the University of Manitoba Planning Committee. He designed, assembled and installed the mural on the north wall of the Winnipeg International Airport, designed St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Fort Garry, and the gates at the western entrance to the University of Manitoba.
After retiring to Peachland, British Columbia in 1980 he became actively involved in the community and was nominated Person of the Year for Kelowna because of his leadership in the design and development of the new art gallery there. He returned to Winnipeg in 2003 where he died on 15 February 2007.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 21 February 2007.
“They left their mark,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 December 2007, page B2.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 28 December 2021