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Memorable Manitobans: William Culver Riley (1907-1970)

Insurance executive, sportsman.

Born at Winnipeg on 21 June 1907, son of Conrad Stephenson Riley and Jean Isabel Culver (1883-1965), he was educated in local schools and at McGill University. He was an active sportsman who gained international recognition as a sculler. He served with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps in the Second World War, emerging as a Lieutenant-Colonel. From 1925 he was connected with the Canadian Fire Insurance Company, serving as branch manager until his appointment as chair in 1963. He was President of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the early 1950s, and a founder of the Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation, which in 1953 opened the Polo Park stadium-arena sports complex. He was a commissioner on the Flood Cost-Benefit Study from 1956 to 1958, and in 1963 he organized the Pan Am Games for Winnipeg. In 1967 he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Golden Boy Award. He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 16 October 1970 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He was inducted posthumously into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1981) and Blue Bombers Hall of Fame (1999).

Sources:

Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 19 October 1970, page 32.

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

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 April 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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