Memorable Manitobans: Michael Marek “Manusz” Kaufmann (1927-2006)
Born at Milowka, Poland on 17 July 1926 to Antonia Tonka (1903-2001) and Joachim Kaufmann (1900-1959), he was named Marek Kaufmann, and at the age of 13 he and his family found themselves entangled in the Holocaust. His immediate family was able to survive, and although he was exposed to many horrors, his good nature and belief in the positive did not allow those experiences to shape the rest of his life.
After the Second World War, he and his family immigrated to Canada and settled in Winnipeg in 1949, where he was known as Michael Kaufmann. He was first employed as a car mechanic in a garage located at Main Street and Alfred Avenue. He was then hired at nearby D. Thompson Electric, the electrical contracting business owned by David Thompson. There, Kaufman met Celia Ruth Thompson (1927-1977), whom he married in 1950, and with whom he went on to adopt three children.
Soon after marrying, he became a journeyman electrician, estimator, and eventually President of D. Thompson Limited. He was involved in the construction of Portage Place, Polo Park Complex, Red River Community College, Asper Jewish Community Campus, and many other projects. The company expanded westward, eventually creating offices as far west as Vancouver. His success in the construction industry attracted the interest of the State Contracting Group, which eventually purchased D. Thompson Limited.
Appointed to the Manitoba Labour Board in 1990, he held several elected positions in the construction industry and was a Past President of the Winnipeg Construction Association and a Past Chairman of the Construction Labour Relations Association. He served as an Employer Representative with the Labour Board until his death. He also fulfilled duties as Vice-President of State Contractors Inc. and as the Facility Director at the Asper Jewish Community Campus.
Judaism and the Jewish community played a central role in his life. He was Past President of B’nai Brith (Maple Leaf Lodge) and later served two terms as a President of the Rosh Pina Synagogue. During that time he undertook projects to ensure the physical and financial preservation of the synagogue, served as a congregational leader, and assisted with the move to egalitarianism in what was to eventually become Congregation Etz Chaim. He was valued as a skilful negotiator and for his positive approach to situations. He enjoyed golf, travel, and summers at Winnipeg Beach. After the death of his first wife, he married Essia Gorenstein in 1981.
He died at Palm Springs, California on 18 February 2006 and was buried at Winnipeg in the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 March 2006.
Manitoba Labour Board Annual Report, 2005-2006.
“Marek (Michael) Kaufmann,” Kaufmann Family Tree, Ancestry.
This page was prepared by Lois Braun.
Page revised: 16 December 2022