Memorable Manitobans: Ruth Susan Lorraine Winkler (1909-2005)

Community activist.

Born at Morden on 23 June 1909 to Philip Doern (1855-1913) and his wife Katarina (1865-1956), she attended Success Business College at Winnipeg after high school, and then worked for several years at Morden for Judge John Milton George, and at the Dominion Experimental Farm. In 1934, she attended the University of Toronto and graduated from the School of Social Work. During the Great Depression, she worked for the Regina Family Bureau.

During the war years she worked for the Children’s Aid Society in Portage la Prairie and later in Winnipeg. She was honoured with a lifetime membership in the society in 1971. In 1949, with the Department of Veterans Affairs, she was sent to Newfoundland to help set up veterans’ services for Canada’s newest province. She was named as one of twelve Winnipeg Women of the Year in 1950 for that work. In 1952, she was loaned to the Canadian Red Cross Society and went to Japan and Korea as head of a team that arranged hospital and recreational services for the Canadian troops in the Korean War. In 1954, she married Howard Waldemar Winkler, who had been the Liberal Member of Parliament for Lisgar from 1935 to 1953.

A strong advocate for the town of Morden, she lobbied diligently to have the sidewalks upgraded, and was active in establishing English classes for new immigrants, the Morden Thrift Shop, and free volunteer taxi services for seniors. She supported the formation of the Morden and District Museum and the writing of the pictorial history book of the Town of Morden in 1981. Ruth was an active volunteer for the United Way, Tabor Home, and the Christmas Cheer Board. She was Morden Citizen of the Year in 1968, and received a plaque from the town in 1986, which thanked her for her wise counsel and modest and quiet strengths. In 1991, with the help of her husband’s nephew, Donald Hurd, she donated the Leo Mol statue, Deer with Fawn, to the town in memory of her husband.

In the 1940s, she was President of the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Association of Social Workers and was active in the establishment of the University of Manitoba School of Social Work (now the Faculty of Social Work), where the Howard and Ruth S. L. Winkler Bursary exists. She enjoyed attending Mature University and the Elder Hostel Program in the 1980s and early 1990s, and provided support and encouragement to many who were pursuing advanced education. In her later years, she volunteered at Wi Wabigooni School, an off-site classroom for Indigenous children, to assist them with their reading skills. She also served on the Boards of the YWCA and the Arthritis Society, and was a member of the Manitoba Historical Society and the Canadian Counsel on Social Development. Lieutenant Governor Pearl McGonigal presented Ruth with a Manitoba Good Citizenship Award in 1983.

She died at Winnipeg on 13 January 2005 and was buried in the Hillside Cemetery at Morden.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 January 2005.

“Philip Doern,” FindAGrave.

This page was prepared by Lois Braun.

Page revised: 31 October 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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