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Memorable Manitobans: William Edward “Bill” Morriss (1919-2003)


Born at Winnipeg in 1919, the fourth son of Howard Joseph Morriss and Mary Ann Alexander, after graduating from high school in 1936 he worked as an accountant until enlisting in the Canadian Army in 1940 and transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. He served in coastal, bomber and transport commands in Alaska and Europe.

He joined the Winnipeg Free Press as an artist in 1946, but after less than a week was asked to fill in for a reporter and never returned to the art department. In 1952 he left to work with Winnipeg Metropolitan Civil Defence where he completed the first civil defence evacuation plan in Canada. In 1955, he joined Ladco, a Winnipeg land development company, and became Manager a year later. In 1962 he returned to the Free Press, where he covered the Legislature and provincial and federal election campaigns. He became President of the Legislative Press Gallery and was active in the Winnipeg Press Club, serving as its President in 1965.

In 1966, he became the Editor of the Manitoba Co-operator, adding the duties of Publisher in 1971. He retired in 1984 and was hired to write the history of the Canadian Wheat Board. He completed the project in 1987 and the first part of the book, Chosen Instrument: The McIvor Years, was published that year and the second part, Chosen Instrument II: New Horizons, was published in 2000. In 1987, his former position at the Co-operator became vacant suddenly, and he was asked to return. He stayed until 1989, and then began work on a book on capital punishment, Watch the Rope, published in 1996.

He died at Winnipeg on 19 September 2003.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 25 September 2003.

“They will never be forgotten,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2003, pages A6-7.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 19 July 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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

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