Memorable Manitobans: June Alwyn Westbury (1921-2004)
Community activist, MLA (1979-1981).
Born in Hamilton, New Zealand on 26 July 1921, daughter to Philip William Cantwell and Doris Halcrow, she grew up in Takapuna on the North Shore of Auckland. Upon completing her education, she worked for the Auckland Savings Bank, performed in light opera productions, and studied voice under the noted contralto Mina Caldow. She left New Zealand in 1947 on a working holiday, eventually arriving in Winnipeg where she met and married lawyer Peter Willoughby Allen Westbury (1922-1991), on 22 October 1949.
While raising her three daughters, she was active in a number of organizations, including the Home and School Association and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Womens Committee, as well as serving as Director of the Epiphany Pageant at St. Albans Anglican Church. In 1971, she was elected as a Board member of the Municipal Hospitals and became Chair of the Hospitals the same year. She served on many boards including Via Rail, Manitoba Health Organizations, Childrens Aid Society, Big Sisters, Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Age and Opportunity Centres, the National Capital Commission, Task Force on Maternal and Child Health, Advisory Committee on Historical Buildings, Heritage Winnipeg, and the Heritage Canada Foundation.
She gradually became more active in politics. In 1970, she was elected Alderman (and later Councillor) for the City of Winnipeg, serving until 1979. She served as the Secretary of the Manitoba Liberal Party (1968-1970) and Vice-President of the Liberal Party of Canada (1970-1973). She was a Liberal candidate in the 1973 provincial general election and a October 1979 by-election called to replace Lloyd Axworthy. Elected to the Legislative Assembly in a 1979 by-election, she served as parliamentary leader of the Liberal party until 1980. She was defeated in the 1981 general election.
She received many awards for her civic contributions, including Life Membership in the Liberal Party of Manitoba; YWCA Woman of the Year Award in Politics and Governmental Affairs, a Canada 125 Medal, and the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). She was founder and chair, for many years, of the Laurier Club of Manitoba. She was also a member of the Twenty Club, University Womens Club, and Down Under Club of Winnipeg. She was a supporter of the Manitoba Opera Association and Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
She died on 11 February 2004.
Obituary [Peter Willoughby Allen Westbury], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 October 1991, page 20.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 21 February 2004.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 15 April 2022