Memorable Manitobans: Piercy Augustus “Percy” Haynes (1911-1992)
Athlete, musician, restauranteur.
Born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1911, one of six children of William and Fredrica Haynes, he came to Winnipeg with his family in 1912, settling at 257 Lulu Street and attending Pinkham School. As a young man, he excelled at sports and was a member of numerous championship softball and basketball teams and the city’s amateur welterweight champion in 1933 and 1934. He was also a gifted piano player and vocalist and soon became a fixture on Winnipeg’s music scene.
During the Second World War, he tried to enlist with the Royal Canadian Navy but was told that minorities were not allowed. The close confines of ship life, it was thought, made it a potentially unsafe place for them. In protest, he repeatedly wrote to officials in Ottawa, including Naval Secretary Angus L. McDonald. The rules were changed and Haynes became the first Black in the modern Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, he began a 29-year career as a night porter with the Canadian Pacific Railway and continued to pursue a musical career. In 1943, he married Zena Bradshaw (1910-1990), a jazz singer from Edmonton.
In 1952, Zena Haynes and her sister Alva Mayes opened Haynes Chicken Shack at the family home on Lulu Street. It became famous not only for its fried chicken but as a musical hotspot, even attracting internationally renowned visitors such as Billy Daniels, Oscar Peterson, and Harry Belafonte. The musical influence rubbed off on step-son Del Wagner who became a popular musician and band leader.
He was a Liberal candidate for the Logan constituency in the 1977 provincial general election, a candidate for Winnipeg city council in 1980, and a member of Royal Canadian Legion, Winnipeg White Ensign Naval Club, Masons (Regent Lodge #5), and Pilgrim Baptist Church.
1921 Canada census, Ancestry.
“Today’s Pinkhamites ‘enjoy’ relating tales of fire” by Claire Tisdale, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1949.
“Successful city restaurant began with young girl's dream,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 February 1988, page 13.
“Haynes Chicken Shack founder dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 July 1992, page 27.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 26 July 1992, page 27.
“Landmark restaurant closes doors,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 September 1996, page 7.
Manitoba Black History: Percy Haynes, West End Dumplings.
This page was prepared by Christian Cassidy and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 18 June 2022