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Memorable Manitobans: Edgar Stanford Russenholt (1890-1991)

Click to enlargeAuthor.

Born at Uxbridge, Ontario on 18 May 1890, he came west in 1899 to Hartney, Manitoba and later homesteaded in the Swan River Valley. He enlisted in the 44th Battalion in 1914, earned a Battlefield Commission, was invalided home after Vimy Ridge and wrote the Unit’s war history, Six Thousand Canadian Men (1932). The book was described in the Canadian Historical Review as surpassing all such chronicles from “the standpoint of pure history, almost a model of critical analysis.” During the Second World War, he served with the Winnipeg Grenadiers (Reserve) and retired as Officer Commanding in 1947.

Ed worked with Winnipeg Hydro and Manitoba Hydro, the Canadian Conservation Institute, Ducks Unlimited, and the Canadian Wheat Pool, before retiring to “Happy Acres” near Headingley in 1958, where he became active in community affairs and were staunch members of Headingley United Church. Ed continued, as he had for half a century, to research Canadian history and to write, broadcast and speak out on the need for conservation and management of Canada’s vast natural resources.

As CBWT television’s first weatherman, his “Ah, yes, the heart of the continent” was a daily reminder of how he felt about his community. He later used The Heart of the Continent as the title of his published 1968 project, a history of Assiniboia. He also wrote histories of the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company and Winnipeg Hydro. His Meri-Ka-Chak - His Message and Follow the Trail for children were immediate successes and fifty-thousand copies were sold in nineteen countries.

Husband of Kathleen J. Vanstone.

Ed was a charter member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists, the First President of the Historical Museum Association of St. James-Assiniboia, a Citizen of the Year in St. James in 1970, and Honorary Life Member of the St. James Chamber of Commerce. He won a Golden Boy Award, the Pioneer Historian Award of the Red River Valley Historical Association, a Manitoba Centennial Medal of the Manitoba Historical Society (1970), the Bern Lowe Memorial Award from the Winnipeg Chapter of the Meteorological Society of Canada, and he was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1981). He spearheaded such community projects as the development of the Omand’s Creek Recreation Area, Grant’s Old Mill and the St. James Assiniboia Museum. He also served with much pride and dedication as a member of both the National and Provincial Historic Sites and Monuments Boards.

Ed was both interesting and interested, a man who loved life, his country and his family, who took time to help others and to be a true friend. His unique story telling talent moved listeners to both laughter and tears.

He died at the Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg on 3 February 1991. His papers are at the Archives of Manitoba.

His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

On Snowshoes for Wheat
Manitoba Pageant, April 1957

Homestead Holiday
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 3, Number 3, April 1958

Sidelights on the History of Assiniboia
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1963-64 Season

Sources:

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 September 2011

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