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Manitoba History No. 89

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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Sylvestre (1876-1952)

Missionary, mechanic, inventor.

Born at Villards-sur-Thones, France on 26 November 1876, his family emigrated to Manitoba in 1892. He and a brother entered the Oblate Order at Lachine, Quebec and took their religious vows in 1900. He spent ten years building missions at St. Laurent, Fort Alexander and St. Boniface, as well as at Lestock (Saskatchewan) and Fort Frances (Ontario). Recognizing his mechanical ability, the Order assigned him as mechanic-in-chief to the West Canada Publishing Company (later the Canadian Publishers Limited) at Winnipeg. His hobby in repairing accordions turned into a business, the Sylvestre Accordion Company. He invented and patented a valve for typesetting machines. In 1932, he drew international acclaim for a pipe organ that he built for a Saskatchewan chapel. In later years, he built a smaller organ for the Juniorate of the Holy Family at St. Boniface. He also made grandfather clocks and church furniture. He was active at Winnipeg’s Sacred Heart Church, where he served Mass, passed the collection plate, sang in the choir, and sometimes played the organ. He died at Winnipeg on 30 January 1952 and was buried in the Oblate Fathers Cemetery.


“Brother Sylvestre, craftsman, dead,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 January 1952. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10]

“Final rites Friday for Fr. Sylvestre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 January 1952, page 32.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 August 2014

Memorable Manitobans

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

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