Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Harry Wilson Swailes (1887-1977)

Machinist, musician, municipal official.

Born at Leeds, England on 23 August 1877, son of Robert Swailes and Louise Frampton, brother of Donovan Swailes, he was heavily active in swimming and won several aquatics awards while attending the Engineering Faculty of Leeds University. He immigrated to Canada in 1919, settled in Old Kildonan in 1920, and began farming with the help of his brother. He worked as a master mechanic and machinist at Simmons Bedding Company.

On 28 August 1920, he married married Nellie Croft (1892-1964) at Winnipeg and they had three children: Robert Swailes, George Edward Swailes, and Margaret Swailes (wife of Clarence L. Marchant). He served as Reeve of Old Kildonan (1936-1949) as well as member (1936-1949) and President (1945-1949) of the Winnipeg Suburban Municipal Association. His oversight of the municipality saw it become debt-free before his retirement in 1949. He joined the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra upon its formation in 1922, remaining with the group until 1940.

He moved to British Columbia in 1950, residing in Victoria where he died on 29 May 1977.


1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“C.C.F.’s mayoralty hope man of varied interests,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 September 1948, page 3.

“Old Kildonan Reeve retiring,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 October 1949, page 12.

Obituary [Nellie Swailes], Winnipeg Free Press, 18 November 1964, page 17.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 8 March 2021

Memorable Manitobans

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