Memorable Manitobans: William French “Bill” Griffiths (1915-2006)
Grocer, business executive.
Born at Saltcoats, Saskatchewan on 5 January 1915, he lived with his mother for a few years as a young child in Aber Frau, North Wales. Back in Saltcoats, he began a lifelong career in the grocery business at the age of eight when he delivered groceries for the local food store. He began working with Canada Safeway Limited at the age of 19 in Regina, Saskatchewan and then moved to various towns in the province until he became the youngest store manager in the company’s history in Shonavan at the age of 23. In 1940 he was transferred to Rosetown, where he met his future wife, Madge Ellen Maycock (1915-2004), the dietician at the local hospital.
He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, served as a rear gunner on the 415 and 419 Squadrons, and completed two tours over Europe, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) presented to him by the King of England in 1945. While overseas, he reunited with Madge, who had also joined the RCAF, and after marrying in Tourquay, England on 5 November 1945, they went on to have two children. Following the wedding, he was transferred to Germany, where he was involved in the Nazi war trials.
Upon his return to Canada, he continued his working relationship with Canada Safeway in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1947, where he managed a store for six months and then moved into the office as a produce buyer. He subsequently moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1948, and finally to Winnipeg in 1950 for the remainder of his working career. There he continued with Safeway until his retirement in 1980, having served over 40 years with the company and culminating in his final role as Chairman of the Board of Canada Safeway Limited. He and his wife moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1997.
He died at Toronto, Ontario on 14 July 2006 and was buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Obituary [Madge Ellen Griffiths], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 2004.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 July 2006.
This page was prepared by Lois Braun.
Page revised: 18 November 2022