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Memorable Manitobans: Sarah Helen Mallabar (1861-1953)


Born at Riviere du Loup, Quebec, she came to Winnipeg in 1884. Widowed in Mexico around 1902, she returned to Winnipeg with her four children. A fortune-teller saw her surrounded by clothes so, in 1903, she borrowed $100 from friends and bought a small dress shop, establishing Mallabar’s Costumes. She developed a relationship with the Winnipeg Operatic Society that helped to establish her reputation as a costumer. Eventually, she and her family opened branches of the company, later known as Malabar, in Toronto and Montreal, becoming for a time the largest costume supplier in Canada. She moved to Toronto in 1925 and retired from active involvement in the business ten years later. She died at Toronto on 16 December 1953.


“Mrs. Mallabar, costume firm founder dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 1953, page 38.

We thank Scott Whyte for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 December 2013

Memorable Manitobans

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