Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Effie Marie Morton Von Helmolt (1917-2008)

Clothing designer, teacher.

Born in rural Manitoba in 1917, she soon moved to Winnipeg where her parents encouraged her to be ambitious and excel in all she did, and indeed, Effie did well at the piano, swimming, diving and figure skating from an early age. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a degree in Home Economics, Effie started working in her father’s clothing factory, where she discovered a gift for design. She went to New York City, where she studied Costume Design at the Pratt Institute. Returning to Winnipeg after the Second World War, she and her husband soon became famous for hosting legendary parties, especially the annual Boxing Day Open House.

She maintained an active social and professional life, chairing the Junior League, skating in pairs dancing and dancing at the Winnipeg Winter Club with her husband, Von. She also designed and made costumes for the new Royal Winnipeg Ballet and for Rainbow Stage Productions. Effie worked with the young John Hirsh to create the Manitoba Theatre Centre, as well as serving on the boards of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, among others. At fifty, she went back to University to get her Master’s Degree in Education and taught at the Theatre Department for many years thereafter.

She died at Victoria, British Columbia on 29 September 2008.

Sources:

This page was prepared by Kris Keen.

Page revised: 26 June 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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