Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Heinrich Albert “Henry” Berlis (1876-1954)

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John Hamilton Gordon Russell
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Born at Mitau [now Jelgava] in what is now Latvia on 22 November 1876, son of Leopold Rudolph Berlis (1824-1882) and Anna Sophie Steinert (?-1882), he immigrated to Canada in 1903 and was naturalized in 1907. A ordained Presbyterian minister, he served congreations at Toronto where he was Assistant Reverend of Dale Presbyterian Church (?-1914) before leaving for Winnipeg to be Reverend of Robertson Memorial Presbyterian Church (1914-1917).

He returned to Toronto as Reverend of Rhodes Avenue Presbyterian Church (1917-?) and Royce Avenue Presbyterian Church (1930s), and there also served as a member of the Toronto Board of Education. Other Ontario congregations under his charge were located at Victoria Harbour and Perth (late 1930s), as well as the First Presbyterian Church at Tonawanda in New York State (c1920s). In 1945, he moved to British Columbia and there served as both a supply minister as well as Moderator of the Vancouver Presbyterian assembly. He fully retired in 1951, lastly from the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in North Vancouver.

On 15 June 1910, he married Annie Jean Henderson (1884-?) at Toronto and had three sons; Rudolph T. Berlis (c1911-?), Norman Frederick Henderson Berlis (1914-2003), and Douglas Albert Berlis (1920-1995). He later re-married to Elsie Ayleen Biette (1909-1995).

He died at Vancouver General Hospital on 25 December 1954 and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park at Burnaby.


1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

Ontario marriage registrations, Ancestry.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“Foreigners and the liquor evil,” Manitoba Free Press, 18 May 1914, page 3.

“Rev. H. A. Berliss called to city,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 July 1914, page 2.

“Berlis to go to Toronto Monday,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 May 1917, Churches-Drama Section page 1.

“Called to Toronto,” Manitoba Free Press, 14 April 1917, page 14.

“[A reception will be held this evening in Robertson Memorial Church ...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 May 1917, page 42.

“Watch to Rev H. A. Berlis from men of his church,” Barrie Examiner, 1 May 1924, page 1.

“Outstanding speakers at anniversary services here,” Weston Times and Guide, 17 November 1933, page 1.

“Pastors urge work campaign,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 1939, page 24.

“Ex-Wininpeg cleric, Rev. H. A. Berlis dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1954, page 6.

Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada 1908-1935, Ancestry.

Bemiha family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 12 November 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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