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Memorable Manitobans: Gertrude Rowe Hanson Kilvert (1880-1961)

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Gertrude Rowe Hanson Kilvert
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Businesswoman, community activist, musician.

Born at London, Ontario on 29 February 1880, daughter of Sara Clements and Edwin Gerald Hanson, she grew up at Montreal, Quebec. Her studies in Europe included time at a boarding school at Richmond Park, London and violin training in Paris and Rome. Upon returning to Montreal, she played in a symphony orchestra, married Reuben Young Kilvert (1869-1942), and had three daughters and a son. After moving to Winnipeg with her family in 1914, she continued to play the violin in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Hugh Ross and Peter Temple. After the death of her husband in 1942, she assumed responsibility for his building supply business, which had dealings with the Canadian Metal Window Steel Products based at Toronto.

In 1937, she was elected President of L’Alliance Francaise in Winnipeg. Her service to this organization was recognized in 1947 when she became the first person in western Canada to receive the Alliance Francaise Medal of Honor. The award was presented to her by the French ambassador Compte Jean de Hautecloque in a ceremony held at the Fort Garry Hotel. She was further honoured in 1951 with a life membership in the society. In addition to her role in L’Alliance Francaise, she was also the President of the Women’s Musical Club for three years and in 1948 she was the only female member of the Canadian Construction Society.

She moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1954 and she died there on 19 December 1961.

Sources:

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“R. Y. Kilvert, 73, dies at home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 August 1942, page 13.

“Only woman construction boss worker chiefly by telephone,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 1946, page 10.

“French awards made at ceremony Thursday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 March 1947, page 10.

“Mrs. R. Y. Kilvert among those celebrating leap year birthday” by Lillian Gibbons, Winnipeg Tribune, 27 February 1948. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 12]

“Editor to address Alliance Francaise,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 November 1951, page 12.

Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“Mrs. Kilvert dies in B.C. at 81 years,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 December 1961, page 21.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Christian Cassidy for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 March 2020

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