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Manitoba History No. 89

No. 89

War Memorials in Manitoba
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Memorable Manitobans

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Memorable Manitobans: Henri Van Elslander [Father Willibrordus] (1903-1982)


Born at St. Boniface on 21 October 1903, son of butcher Alidor Van Elslander and Marie Soens, he was delivering groceries for his father when became acquainted with the Capuchin Friars, a Belgian religious order whose members had arrived at St. Boniface in August 1928. He joined the order, the first Manitoba-born postulant, and found that his command of English, Fleming, and French was a distinct advantage in their work. He spent four years in Poland learning Polish so he could work with the many Polish-speaking immigrants in Canada. He was ordained into the priesthood in the Cathedral of Brugge, Belgium in June 1936. He celebrated his first mass with family and friends at the Belgian Sacred Heart Church in August 1937. He worked at parishes in St. Boniface, Blenhaim (Ontario), Toutes Aides, Toronto (Ontario), St. Germaine, and Downsview (Ontario). He died at Downsview on 25 December 1982 and was buried in the Capuchin cemetery at Blenhaim, Ontario.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 December 1982, page 25.

This page was prepared by Neil Pryce and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 May 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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