Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Shanski (1909-1993)


Born at Warren on 16 April 1909, son of Ukrainian immigrants Anton and Dora Smerechanski, at 17 he began a career in the lumber business with the North American Lumber Company. After nearly 20 years he began his own lumber brokerage business under the name of Sprague Lumber Company, as well as the retail Modern Lumber Company. Sprague became the leading independent wholesale distributer of building materials in Manitoba.

He was a charter member of the Selkirk Rotary Club and was a director of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg from 1965 to 1966. He was a member of the Canadian Radio Television Commission (CRTC), President of the North Winnipeg YMCA, Director of the Metropolitan YMCA, Winnipeg Football Club, Honorary Life Member of the Ukrainian Professional and Businessmen Club of Winnipeg, the North Winnipeg Liberal Association, a Director of the Bank of Western Canada, the Lake Winnipeg Navigation Limited, Chairman of the Industrial Development Board of Winnipeg, founding Chairman of Settlers Savings and Mortgage Corporation, Provincial Chairman of the Manitoba March of Dimes, founder of the Sons of Ukrainian Pioneers Luncheon Club, and an honorary councillor and member of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

He was a member and Chairman of the North Winnipeg Liberal Association and ran federally in a 1954 by-election in the Selkirk constituency and in 1962 as the provincial Liberal candidate for Inkster. He was a member of the Elmhurst Golf and Country Club, Manitoba Club, Carleton Club, Winnipeg Winter Club, Canadian Club of Winnipeg, and the Manitoba Trap and Skeet Club. In 1968, he was given a Manitoba Golden Boy Award and the Mayor of Winnipeg’s Community Service Award.

He died at Winnipeg on 14 July 1993 and was buried in the Holy Family Cemetery.


“10 Manitobans get Golden Boy Awards,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1968.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 July 1993, page 40.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 February 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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