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Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Halters of Winnipeg (Part 1)

Halter Building

When I research the history of a building I often come across interesting people or families whose contributions to Manitoba have been forgotten. Some examples are the Gensers, Kelly House, Ralph Brown, etc.

The Halter Building is an unassuming structure on Graham Avenue that today houses the Women's Health Clinic. It was constructed in 1960 for Aubrey Halter and Nola Brown-Halter.

Here is a bit more about the Halters.

Maurice Halter and Rhoda (nee Lechtzier) were a pioneer family in Canada's west.

Rhoda's family came from Russia to Saskatchewan in the 1880's as part of the
New Jerusalem Settlement near Estevan, but soon moved on to Winnipeg. Rhoda was born on April 29, 1883 and is credited with being the first Jewish girl to be born and survive in Western Canada.

Maurice and Rhoda married in Winnipeg in 1904 and had four children: Rosetta; Cyril; Aubrey; and Sydney. Two of their children, Aubrey and Sydney, remained in Winnipeg and had a lasting impact on the community.

I've written before in more detail about
Sydney Halter. Born in Winnipeg on April 18, 1904, he graduated from law at the University of Manitoba in 1927.

Halter is best remembered for his contributions to Canadian sport, including being the first commissioner of the CFL.

Aubrey J. Halter was born July 10, 1918. Like his older brother, he attended law at University of Manitoba and graduated in 1944 with honours.

Aside from the law, Halter's passion were the arts. He
studied and created fine art while at university and was a noted collector and patron of the arts throughout his life.

Soon after graduating, he was on the board of The Little Theatre. Thanks in part
to Halter's involvement and financial assistance, they merged with Theatre 77 In 1957 to become the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

While on his way to becoming one of the era's more prominent lawyers, Aubrey was also noted for being the most stylish man in the city. He was always impeccably turned-out in suits rumoured to be imported from Savile
Row and sporting his trademark pompadour. The late Harold Buchwald commented in a 2005 Free Press column that Aubrey was 'a true bon vivant' and one of the most colourful characters he had ever met.

Nola Brown was the daughter of
Francis Roy Brown, a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and whom the Free Press once referred to as "one of Western Canada's colourful aviation pioneers". (He is often mistaken for the Roy Brown who shot down The Red Baron).

A champion cyclist when WWI broke, Brown enlisted in the cycling corps at the age of 17. He soon transferred to the Air Force and begin his life-long passion for flying. Roy married a war bride, Diana Peveret, and the couple returned to Manitoba in 1923. They soon headed to north country where Nola was born on June 14, 1928.

In Roy's 37 year flying career he amassed 15,000 flying hours.
During World War II, he tested 2,575 planes for pilots-in-training around the province. He made flying a family affair when he took his wife and daughter over the Rocky Mountains by plane in 1931 making them the first known women to fly over the Rocky Mountains.

In his later years, Brown hung up his wings and in 1953 became MLA for Rupertsland. He died November 30, 1960.

Growing up in the rugged north with a father often in transit gave Nola an independent streak. She was a feminist and business woman with a love for art and literature. By the 1950's she was living in Winnipeg.

The Halters of Winnipeg Series:

Part 2:
Syd Halter, the Man Who Pulled the CFL Together
Part 3: Nola and Aubrey Halter

Image sources:
- 1904 wedding photo: Jewish Heritage Centre newsletter (2004)
- R. Halter obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 20, 1973
- F. R. Brown: Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame entry
- Halter Family: personal collection of Dr. R. Halter (used with permission)


John Dobbin said...

Good story. I believe you mean Savile Row.

Christian Cassidy said...

Thanks ! Correction noted !

Anonymous said...
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Ken Ackerman said...

Thank you, I just found your series and am learning a lot about my family. Cyril Halter was my grandfather, Sydney and Aubrey my great uncles.

Anonymous said...

I got o know Aubrey quite well working at Strains an The Bay. I once mentioned to him his brother could Pass for Charles Degaul'e tongue in n cheek he said his brother gold bricked himself in London during WW2 because of his likeness to Le Grande Charles.