Memorable Manitobans: Henry Edward “Harry” Graham (1921-2006)
Farmer, contractor, MLA (1969), MLA (1969-1973), MLA (1973-1977), MLA (1977-1981), Speaker (1977-1981), MLA (1982-1986).
Born at Foxwarren on 26 December 1921, son of George Malcom Graham and Margaret Leckie, he attended the University of Manitoba for two years prior to enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was a navigation instructor at Winnipeg before being sent overseas in November 1944 and served until discharge in 1946. Three years later, he purchased a half-section of land at Chillon Siding which he farmed. He established Graham Brothers Construction in 1953, in partnership with his brother Rodney. They built provincial roads in northern Manitoba for two years until a fire destroyed some of their equipment.
It is said that he entered politics accidentally when he agreed to help a dentist friend run for office but took his place when the dentist could not find a replacement to use his left-handed dental tools. Elected to the Manitoba Legislature at a by-election in February 1969, he represented the Birtle-Russell constituency. He was re-elected at the general elections in 1969, 1973, 1977, and 1981. From 1977 to 1981, he was Speaker of the House in the Sterling Lyon government. He did not stand for re-election in 1986.
He served as Vice-Chairman of the Russell Hospital and on the Boards of the Pelly Trail School Division and Binscarth School District. He was a referee for the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association and helped to build the hockey program at Binscarth. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity. In 1977, in recognition of his public service, he received the Queen Eliabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.
He died at Russell on 21 September 2006 and was buried in the Binscarth Cemetery.
“Former MLA, Speaker, remembered at service,” Shoal Lake Crossroads, 30 September 2006, page 2.
“Birtle-Russell MLA served as Speaker,” Brandon Sun, 29 September 2006, page 3.
“Entry into politics was accidental,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 September 2006, page 9.
We thank Henry Graham for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 4 November 2020