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Memorable Manitobans: Gladys Eva Balsillie (1919-1987)

Burlesque agent.

Born Gladys Eva Johnston at Franklin on 27 March 1919, she attended St. Mary’s Academy. On 30 December 1950, she married musician Reginald Balsillie (1926-1971). She opened a restaurant on Main Street in Winnipeg and ended up running a restaurant consultancy firm and a bartending school, as well as managing a stable of 100 dancers. For years she was known as Winnipeg’s “Queen of Burlesque” because of the agency for exotic dancers she operated in the province. She died at her Winnipeg residence on 9 January 1987 and was buried in the St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Obituary [Reginald Balsillie], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1971, page 18.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 11 January 1987, page 23.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 3 January 2019

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