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Memorable Manitobans: John Francis Funnell (1925-2021)

Lawyer.

Born at Winnipeg on 26 July 1925, he attended Champlain School before his family moved to St. James in 1935 where his education was continued at Linwood School and St. James Collegiate. He spent two years at St. Johns College while working in the summer as a substation ifloorman for the Winnipeg Electric Company. In 1946, he entered the Manitoba Law School and articled with the firm of Aikins MacAulay and Company. He graduated in 1950 and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1951. He worked as a solicitor with Aikins MacAulay until 1953 when he joined Donald Alexander Thompson in forming the firm of Thompson, Shepard, Dilts & Jones.

He assisted Thompson in drafting the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Development Act, known today as the Manitoba Hydro Act. He was also involved in expropriating land for construction of the Pine Falls Generating Station and for other Hydro projects at McArthur Falls, Brandon, and Selkirk. He worked on the first power agreement between the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and the City of Winnipeg (1955), the first interprovincial connection agreement between the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and Ontario Hydro (1956), and the agreement between the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and INCO for construction of the Kelsey Generating Station.

In August 1959, he became the full-time lawyer for the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and soon after began providing part-time services to the Manitoba Power Commission. With amalgamation of these entities in April 1961, he became Secretary to the Board of Manitoba Hydro. He represented the Corporation before external groups and was responsible for the Risk Management and Property departments. He worked on the Nelson River Agreement for development of the HVDC system, the contract with the German Working Group for the supply of Bipole II equipment, the Northern Flood Agreement, and the agreement with Hudbay for the acquisition of Flin Flon distribution facilities.

On 14 October 1950, he married Dorothy Spencer Findlay (1926-2021, daughter of Rev. G. W. Findlay) and they had a son and a daughter. He served as President of the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, President of the Men's Music Club, President of the Hy-Line Credit Union (1971-1972), President of the Manitoba Provincial Council for Scouts Canada (1973-1976), and Scouting Provincial Commissioner for Manitoba (1976-1979). He was a member of the council for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (1978-1982), a director of the Winnipeg Business Development Corporation, a member of the board (1982-1988) and President (1985-1986) for United Way of Winnipeg, and Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Keewatin.

In recognition of his community service, he was appointed a Queen's Counsel (1984) and received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977).

He died at Winnipeg on 22 March 2021.

Sources:

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 30 March 2021.

Obituary, Neil Bardal Funeral Centre.

Obituary [Dorothy Spencer Funnell], Winnipeg Free Press, 9 October 2021.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 September 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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