Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ahab Spence (1911-2001)

Cleric, politician.

Born at Split Lake on 1 July 1911, son of Hector and Eliza Spence, he attended school at MacKay Residential School in The Pas, and also the schools at Elkhorn and Mortlach, Saskatchewan. He attended high school at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan then entered the Anglican clergy, through which he ministered to First Nations people at Stanley Mission, Saskatchewan from 1934 to 1937. In 1937 he earned a doctorate in Theology from Emmanuel College at the University of Saskatchewan. He served as a priest from 1937 to 1965, and a canon as 1955 to 1959. He was also Arch Deacon in the Diocese of Saskatoon from 1959 to 1963. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan in 1964. The following year, he took a leave of absence from the clergy in order to work in the secular world with First Nations communities. He was the Community Liaison Officer for the Saskatchewan Department of Northern Affairs. In 1968 he became the chief of the cultural development division of Indian Affairs in Ottawa. He worked there until 1970 when he joined the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (MIB) as a staff representative, and in 1974 he became the second President of the MIB after the retirement of Grand Chief David Courchene, serving until 1976. In recognition of his community service, he was inducted into the Order of Canada (1982). He died on 5 April 2001.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 April 2001, page 55.

This page was prepared by Angela Graham and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 January 2019

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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