Memorable Manitobans: Vernon Lee “Jim” Shilliday (1928-2014)
Journalist, pilot, writer.
Born at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on 6 June 1928, son of Robert Shilliday (1895-1950) and Mary Ethel Mountain, his family moved to Winnipeg in the 1930s so his father, a Canadian National Railway engineer, could find work. He attended Gordon Bell High School and studied architecture at the University of Manitoba but dropped out to support his mother after his father’s death. He worked as a copy boy and cub reporter at the Winnipeg Tribune before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1952 and serving as a jet pilot in England, Germany, and France.
He later returned to the Tribune where he served successively as City Editor and Associate Editor until the newspaper was shut down in 1980. He then worked as an executive assistant to provincial finance minister Brian Ransom before becoming editor of the Winnipeg Real Estate News (which won him a Distinguished Service Award from Heritage Winnipeg), writing articles for the Winnipeg Free Press, and contributing to aviation magazines.
In 1952, he met and married Donna Joan “Beth” Enfield (1931-2018) and they had three children. He bought a hobby farm near Woodlands in the mid-1960s and he moved to Stonewall in 2001 where he devoted himself to writing. He wrote Canada’s Wheat King: The Life and Times of Seager Wheeler (2007) and A Memory of Sky: A Pilot’s View of Canada’s Century of Flight (2009).
He died at Stonewall on 4 July 2014.
Obituary [Robert Shilliday], Winnipeg Tribune, 6 February 1950, page 12.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 11 June 2023