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Memorable Manitobans: Wallace Conrad “Wally” Miller (1896-1959)

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Wallace Conrad Miller
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Realtor, insurance agent, notary public, MLA (1937-1940), MLA (1941-1945), MLA (1946-1949), Speaker (1950), MLA (1950-1953), MLA (1954-1957), MLA (1958-1959), MLA (1959).

Born at New Hamburg, Ontario on 7 February 1896, son of Bertram B. Miller and Pauline Miller, he came to Manitoba and was working as a school teacher when, in 1916, he enlisted in the Candian Expeditionary Force. He was twice wounded in France. Following his military discharge, he returned to Manitoba and settled at Gretna where he worked in real estate and insurance, and was a police magistrate (1926-1928), chairman of the Gretna School Board, and justice of the peace (1932-1936). He served as President of the Manitoba Association of School Trustees (1939-1940).

He first entered the political arena and was beaten in 1935 when he ran for a federal seat. He was elected MLA from Morden & Rhineland in 1936. Re-elected in 1941, he resigned four years later to make another unsuccessful attempt in federal politics. Later in 1945 he re-entered the provincial field, took the Rhineland seat and was re-elected or acclaimed in 1949, 1953, 1958, and 1959. First running as a Conservative, he became a Coalition Conservative in 1940 and a Liberal in 1950. Many criticized him for his changes of party, but his constituents continued to support him through the changes. He was a candidate for the Lisgar constituency in the 1945 federal election but was defeated by incumbent Howard Waldemar Winkler. He served as Provincial Secretary (1948-1950), Speaker of the Legislature (1950), and Minister of Education (1950-1958).

In 1920, he married Swedish immigrant Edna Karin Gahn (1894-1957) and adopted her three children: Doris Miller (1912-?, wife of L. W. Roberts), Clayton Edison Miller (1914-1987), and Patricia Miller (1915-?, wife of M. J. Babbidge). He was a member of the Gretna United Church and Masons (East Star Lodge),

He died at Winnipeg on 3 October 1959 and was buried in the Garry Memorial Park. He is commemorated by W. C. Miller Collegiate in Altona.

Sources:

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

1926 Canada census, FamilySearch.

“Under The Golden Boy, Manitoba’s M.L.A.s,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 March 1943. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9, page 123]

“The Manitoba government,” Carillon News, 29 October 1954, page 9.

“Funeral Monday for wife of cabinet minister,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1957, page 4.

Obituary, Western Municipal News, November 1959, page 355.

“‘Wally’ Miller is dead,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 1959, page 1.

Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 5 October 1959, page 20.

Obituary [Clayton Edison Miller], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 1987, page 41.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

We thank Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 November 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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