Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ethel Anna Sankey Tillenius (1913-1989)

Educator, author, historian.

Born at Waskada on 18 April 1913, daughter of Anna Grace McGill (c1876-1963) and Charles Arthur Sankey, she graduated with honours from the Waskada High School in 1929 and received the Governor General’s Medal for general proficiency. The Great Depression prevented her family from being able to send her to the University of Manitoba for more than two years so she completed a BA in Arts and Science in 1936 by studying extramurally and attending summer school. She received a teaching certificate from the Central Normal School then taught at St. Hebert School (1933-1934), Pierson School (1934-1936), Kinloss School (?-?), Fisher Branch School (?-?), Hartney School (?-?), and various schools in Winnipeg, including Lord Nelson School (1950-1951), Lord Selkirk School (1951-1952) and Isaac Brock School (1953-1955, 1963-1967).

On 4 July 1942, she married artist Clarence Tillenius and they had a son. She accompanied her husband on extensive trips in Europe and the United States, taught school for a number of years then turned to writing. Her work appeared in Country Guide and the Winnipeg Free Press. In 1977, she received a Margaret McWilliams Award for her book Learned Friends, Reminiscences, Pitblado & Hoskin, 1882-1974, a history of the Pitblado law firm. She served on the Alumni Board of Governors for the University of Manitoba. A stroke suffered in 1982 during an art tour of Italy ended her writing career and confined her to a nursing home.

She died at Winnipeg on 26 December 1989.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 December 1989, page 33.

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 August 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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