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MHS Centennial Business: Guinn & Simpson

In July 1905, brothers Ed J. Guinn and William H. Guinn arrived in Neepawa from Ontario, and one month later they announced the establishment of their company, the Neepawa Marble & Granite Works. They proudly proclaimed the variety of material they could import, including “Scotch and American Granite, Italian and American Marble” and boasted of their expert workmen and “latest designs to choose from.” By 1912 they had bought out an established monument company in Portage la Prairie, and joined with undertaker John “Jack” Simpson to form Guinn & Simpson. Jack Simpson’s name may be familiar, as he was the maternal grandfather of the well-known author Margaret Laurence. Her first book, The Stone Angel, demonstrates the impact her grandfather’s monument and funeral business had on her imagination. While the marble works and monument operations continued at both Neepawa and Portage la Prairie, the headquarters was now in Portage. The firm’s primary business was in gravestones but, in the aftermath of the First World War, it also provided war memorials for communities around Manitoba, including ones at Dauphin and Foxwarren.

Around 1925, Ed and William split the business. Ed Guinn continued with Guinn & Simpson at Portage la Prairie while William Guinn took on the Neepawa operation using the name Neepawa Stone & Marble Works. After the Second World War, William’s sons operated the Neepawa business under the name Guinn Bothers, until it was sold out of the family in the 1976. Meanwhile, Ed Guinn continued as owner-operator of the Portage business until his death in 1956. His son, J. Murray Guinn entered the business before the war, and returned to it after five years war service, retiring in 1993. His son, Clark Murray Guinn, joined on a full-time basis in 1973 and, as of 2006, still ran the business with another shareholder, Joe Cooper.

On 14 January 2006, an MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to Clark and Murray Guinn by Judith Hudson Beattie, Ken Zealand, and David Deane.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Davidson House (344 Main Street East, Neepawa)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Dauphin War Memorial (Memorial Boulevard, Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Foxwarren War Memorial (Foxwarren, RM of Birtle)

Memorable Manitobans: William Henry Guinn (1877-1933)

Memorable Manitobans: John “Jack” Simpson (1856-1953)

Sources:

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 November 2014

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