Memorable Manitobans: Piercy Augustus “Percy” Haynes (1911-1992)
Athlete, musician, restauranteur.
Born in British Guyana in 1911, he came to Winnipeg with his family in 1912, settling at 257 Lulu Street and attending Pinkham School. As a young man, he excelled at sports and was a member of numerous championship softball and basketball teams and the city’s amateur welterweight champion in 1933 and 1934. He was also a gifted piano player and vocalist and soon became a fixture on Winnipeg’s music scene.
During the Second World War, he tried to enlist with the Royal Canadian Navy only to be told that minorities were not allowed. The close confines of ship life, it was thought, made it a potentially unsafe place for them. In protest, he repeatedly wrote to officials in Ottawa, including Naval Secretary Hon. Angus L. McDonald. The rules were changed and Haynes became the first Black in the modern Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, he began a career as a night porter with the CPR and continued to pursue his musical career. In 1943 he married Zena Bradshaw (?-1990), a jazz singer from Edmonton.
In 1952 Zena Haynes and her sister Alva Mayes opened Haynes Chicken Shack at the Haynes family home on Lulu Street. It became famous not only for its fried chicken but as a musical hotspot, even attracting internationally renowned visitors such as Billy Daniels, Oscar Peterson, and Harry Belafonte. The musical influence rubbed off on step-son Del Wagner who became a popular musician and band leader.
“Today’s Pinkhamites ‘enjoy’ relating tales of fire” by Claire Tisdale, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1949.
Manitoba Black History: Percy Haynes, West End Dumplings.
Page revised: 14 June 2014
Back to top of page