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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Harold Spence (1925-1987)

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Charles Harold Spence
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Businessman, municipal official.

Raised at Poplar Point, he settled in Winnipeg after serving in the Navy during the Second World War. Politically active, he served two years as President of the Young Conservative Association of Greater Winnipeg (1952-1954) and was the Progressive Conservative candidate for Lakehead in the 1953 provincial election, losing to Premier Douglas Campbell. In 1958, he won a seat on Winnipeg city council representing Ward 2, the city’s West End, and in 1960-1961 was a member of the city’s Police Commission. On the night of 1 July 1961, Spence, who was homosexual, was the target of an undercover police surveillance operation. After bringing a man back to his residence, he was arrested and charged with “attempted gross indecency against a male person.” He resigned his council seat and left his job with the Canadian Red Cross. A jury found Spence not guilty but his reputation had been ruined and he left Winnipeg. He returned in 1980 and managed a furniture store on Portage Avenue. He died at the Health Sciences Centre on 25 November 1987 and was buried in the military section of the Brookside Cemetery.


Closeted councillor a victim of the times” by Christian Cassidy, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 2017.

This page was prepared by Christian Cassidy.

Page revised: 1 September 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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