Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Cecil Ross (c1911-1998)

Social and political activist, municipal official.

Born at Gorodnitsa, Ukraine about 1911, son of Lazar Zuken, brother of Joseph Zuken and husband of Anne Ross, he was committed to social causes in Canada. He joined the Communist Party in 1929 and led the Young Communist League in the mid-1930s. He took the surname Ross to protect his family from threats due to his unpopular causes.

In 1934, he served six months in the Dauphin jail on a conspiracy charge resulting from his involvement in a miners strike at Flin Flon. After spending 28 months in hiding, in September 1942 he enlisted in the Canadian Army and served in Italy, The Netherlands, and Germany. Returning to Canada in 1945, he led the Communist Party of Manitoba (1948-1981).

He was instrumental in the election of communist candidates to the Manitoba Legislature, Winnipeg City Council, and Winnipeg School Board. He served two terms on the Winnipeg School Board (1938-1940) but was soundly defeated in the 1953, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1974, and 1979 federal general elections, and in the 1945, 1959, 1966, 1973, 1977, and 1981 provincial general elections.

He died on 4 June 1998.

Sources:

“Still Trustee, Ross declares,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 September 1940, page 7.

“A committed, caring Communist,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 June 1998, page A6.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 8 June 1998, page C7.

“They are gone, but not forgotten,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1998, page A4.

“William Ross: A gentle revolutionary” by Arthur Ross, Jewish Heritage Centre Connects, 19 August 2022.

We thank Daniel Ross for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 25 August 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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