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Memorable Manitobans: Edna Lenora Perry (1923-2020)

Educator, cleric.

Born at Winnipeg on 30 June 1923, daughter of George Frank and Ethel Jenny Martens, her family moved to a farm at Marchand when she was young. A career in education started during the Second World War, when she taught on permit at Silver Plains School (1942) and Union Point School (1942-1943). She met her future husband, Charles Henry John “Jack” Perry (1922-2002) at a dance for English trainees in the Royal Air Force at the Service Flying Training School No. 33. On 31 March 1945, they married at his hometown of Devon, England and, returning to Canada, subsequently raised three sons while she obtained degrees in Education and Theology.

She went on to serve as the Principal of Wayoata School (1974-1982) and Transcona School (1982-1983, 1994-1995). Passionate about science and outdoor education, she was a co-founder of the Manitoba Outdoor Education Association. She also lobbied for kindergarten and eyesight clinics in the Transcona-Springfield School Division.

She pioneered the role of women as clergy in the Anglican church, serving at St. Catherine's Anglican Church, St. Stephen's Anglican Church, St. Barnabas Anglican Church, St. Anne's Anglican Church, St. Martin in the Field Anglican Church, St. Paul's Anglican Church, St. Helen's Anglican Church, St. Cyprian's Anglican Church, and chaplain of the Transcona Legion and Mothers' Union. She lost her eyesight in 1989, after which she performed her ministerial duties by memory and recordings. Progressive in her views, she welcomed the ordination of women and gay men as priests.

In recognition of her community service, she received the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation Medal (1992). In retirement, she wrote a memoir entitled A Prairie Girl’s Life: The Story of the Reverend Edna Lenora Perry (2014).

She died at the Middlechurch Home on 15 January 2020. She is commemorated by Edna Perry Way in Winnipeg.

Sources:

Obituary [Charles Henry John Perry], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 October 2002.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 January 2020.

“Productive pioneer,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 November 2020, page C1.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 28 November 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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