Memorable Manitobans: Henry Teichgraf Thiessen (1918-2003)
Born in Russia on 24 July 1918, he immigrated to Canada around 1925 and settled with his family at Giroux. He attended Giroux School, graduated from Steinbach School (1937), and was employed as a store clerk at Butcher Reimer’s Red and White Grocery Store in Steinbach. He attained post-secondary education, earning BA and BEd degrees from the University of Manitoba and worked towards a MA (1960s-1970s, Education Administration) at the University of British Columbia. Around 1941, he married fellow teacher Elda Toews (c1922-2014, later remarried to Ben Falk) and had four children.
He began a 37-year education career at Winnipegosis School and taught at Winkler School (1949-1950) prior to becoming Principal of Rosebank School (1954-1955). He returned to Winkler School, where Elda also taught, as Vice-Principal (1962-1963) and Principal (1953-1966) before heading to Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue a Masters degree. He returned to Manitoba as Principal of Steinbach Collegiate Institute (1968-1972) prior to being appointed Superintendent of the Hanover School Division (1974-1983). While teaching, he also coached basketball, lead choirs, and built and renovated homes on the side. In retirement, he resided for seven years in the Okanogan Valley of British Columbia before returning to Mitchell. Other local community involvement included tenure as the President (1973-1977) of the South Eastern Manitoba Music, Poetry, and Speech Arts Festival Association, the Steinbach and Area United Appeal Board (1983-?), and the Steinbach Camp of the Gideons International in Canada (?-?), as well as teaching Sunday School, and seeking office as a school trustee (1986, Ward 4) in the Hanover School Division. He was a member of the Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church.
“Thiessen named Collegiate Principal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 April 1968, page 3.
“Henry Thiessen new division superintendent,” Steinbach Carillon, 15 May 1974, pages 1 & 3.
“Principal gets post,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 1974, page 57.
“Festival President re-elected,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 June 1975, page 1.
“Division head gearing for “reassignment”,” Steinbach Carillon, 16 June 1983, page 5.
“Thiessen new Appeal head,” Steinbach Carillon, 21 September 1983, page 1.
“Candidate slate swells to 10,” Steinbach Carillon, 24 September 1986, page 2.
“Henry T. Thiessen [School Trustee candidate ad],” Steinbach Carillon, 1 October 1986, page 41.
Obituary [Agatha Toews], Winnipeg Free Press, 13 July 1988, page 35.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 December 2003, page A23.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 5 December 2003, page 32.
Obituary [Elda Thiessen Falk], Winnipeg Free Press, 10 May 2014, page B14.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 11 February 2019
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