Memorable Manitobans: Walter Leland Rutherford “Lee” Clark (1936-2008)
Historian, MP (1980-1984), MP (1984-1988), MP (1988-1993).
Born at Davidson, Saskatchewan on 16 December 1936, he began his early education at Simpson, Saskatchewan. Later the family relocated to a farm near Doonside (a hamlet that no longer exists) and he and his younger brothers attended a local one room country school called Mountney. Later he transferred to Wawota High and, following graduation, he attended the University of Saskatchewan, obtaining his BEd in 1959 and his BA (Honours) in 1961. Throughout most of those years, hockey was a major part of his life, first in Wawota and later at the University of Saskatchewan. During his third year of university, Lee met and later married (in 1959) Barbara Woods, a fellow student in the Faculty of Education. Barb unselfishly gave up her own studies to support the newly married couple as Lee completed his second degree at the University of Saskatchewan and, subsequently, a Master of Arts at the University of Oregon. After those eight years of study, Barb and Lee came back to Regina, where they both taught for one year (Lee at Sheldon Williams Collegiate) prior to the decision, in 1964, to join Lee’s long term mentor, Dr. Charles Lightbody, at Brandon College.
Cheryl, Lee and Barb’s first daughter, was born in Brandon while Janine, their younger daughter, was born during Lee’s doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. Returning to graduate studies as an adult with family responsibilities was not without its challenges but Lee proudly received his PhD in Canadian history just weeks before his fortieth birthday. Lee regarded himself, first and foremost, as a teacher although he was very proud of the fact that a revised form of his doctoral dissertation entitled Brandon: Its Politics and Politicians was published by the Brandon Sun as part of that newspaper’s centennial celebration.
During those teaching years, Lee was an extremely dedicated volunteer in the Brandon community. He was an active member of the United Church, the John Howard Society, in organizing a volunteer visitation program to the old correctional institute and in a campaign to secure a much needed detox centre for Brandon. In addition, he was a very involved member of the Progressive Conservative Party, an activity which culminated in his election as Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris in the 1983 by-election.
To serve in the government of Canada, whose history he had long studied and taught, was the realization of long-held dream. Lee and Barb worked together to fulfill the duties of being a Member of Parliament. Although his tasks were many, he was particularly pleased to be invited by the Prime Minister to serve as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and subsequently to the Minister of the Environment. In addition, he was proud of his long time association with Joe Clark’s and later Jean Charest’s leadership campaigns. Having been re-elected in the 1984 and 1988 general elections, Lee decided to retire from politics and he did not seek re-election in the 1993 general election.
After leaving federal politics, he was appointed Executive Assistant to the President of Brandon University, a position he held until his retirement from that institution in 1998. Soon after, Lee and Barb decided to make their cottage at Lake Metigoshe their permanent home where Lee spent many happy summers cutting his numerous riding/hiking trails on which he and others loved to ride his several horses. Winters were spent in Ottawa so that Barb and Lee could see more of their grandchildren.
He died at Lake Metigoshe on 10 August 2008, as a result of a fall from a horse.
His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
W. Leland Clark Fonds, Series MG 3 1.14, S. J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 August 2008.
Obituary, Brandon Sun, 14 August 2008.
“Manitobans’ Legacy a Better Province,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 January 2009, page B3.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 10 March 2022