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Memorable Manitobans: William Blake Lawrence (1870-1918)

Click to enlargeTheatrical agent.

Born at Gainesville, New York, son of George D. and Sarah E. Lawrence, and raised in Detroit, he worked his way up to become manager of the Detroit Opera House. In 1906 the American company of Drew and Campbell acquired the Winnipeg Theatre and dispatched Lawrence to Manitoba as its manager. He brought a theatrical stock company with him (renamed the Winnipeg Stock Company), and soon leased the Grand Theatre and the Dominion Theatre.

By 1910 he was a major figure on the Winnipeg theatrical scene, becoming manager of the Walker Theatre as well as others. Soon afterward he joined up with Alexander Pantages, and he managed the Pantages Theatre upon its opening in 1914. Lawrence was local agent for a number of leading theatrical circuits as well as manager of several local stock companies. He was a key figure in live theatre in Winnipeg for a decade, until he suffered a stroke in 1916.

He died in Winnipeg but was buried in Detroit.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Walker Theatre (364 Smith Street, Winnipeg)

Events in Manitoba History: Winnipeg Theatre Fire (23 December 1926)

William Blake Lawrence, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIV, 629-30.

Sources:

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 11 August 2013

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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