A man devoted to and an inspiration to Winnipeg’s arts and cultural scene is the most recent inductee into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame.
Harold Buchwald was inducted into the hall of fame, established in 1986 by WinnipegREALTORS® to honour Winnipeggers who make a significant contribution to the city’s quality of life, at a special ceremony held today, Friday, September 23, at Terrace Fifty-Five in Assiniboine Park.
Buchwald’s wife, Dee, received the the Citizens Hall of Fame bronze inductee award on behalf of her husband who passed away in 2008.
An unprecedented 13 nominations were received by the selection committee calling for the ballet, opera, symphony and theatre supporter to become the hall of fame’s 38th inductee.
“Harold Buchwald is an ideal selection to honour and help us celebrate our 25th year as a program that is unique in Canada,” said Rick Preston, chair of the hall of fame program.
“The love affair between the man and the city lasted 80 years,” said Jim Carr, the principal nominator of Buchwald, “ending ... when Harold died suddenly (on April 17, 2008).
“‘Bucky’ was everywhere and so was his influence on the city, province, nation and beyond,” added Carr, the president and CEO of the Manitoba Business Council.
Carr said Buchwald was a “ubiquitous man” on-hand whenever “there was an orchestra to save, a business council to found, a fledgling peace centre to nurture, hospital research to support, a students’ trust fund to steer, an international conference to organize, an arts stabilization fund to establish, an historic site to be preserved and enhanced, a column to write.”
In his latter years, Buchwald supported the establishment of a heritage park and interpretive centre at the location of the historic Upper Fort Garry Gate as well as the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, the fist national museum to be located outside of the Ottawa-Hull Capital Region.
Dr. Jerry Gray, the chair of Friends of Upper Fort Garry, related the story of Buchwald’s contribution to the fort project. He said the man was integral to the project’s success, and that when Buchwald went away to California one winter, he thought he had lost his services for a month at a critical time.
But he needn’t have worried, for while in California, Buchwald was busy soliciting donations for the project from Winnipeggers vacationing in the U.S. state.
“He was so heavily involved in this community and so committed to the things that make this (city) a better place to live,” added Gray.
“Winnipeg has a well-earned reputation as one of Canada’s most important urban cultural centres,” said nominator Terry Welch. “Much of the credit for the building of this profile goes to Harold Buchwald, whose tireless efforts and advocacy on behalf of the arts inspired artists, patrons, administrators and governments to make Winnipeg a world-renowned hub of cultural excellence.”
In recognition of his many contributions, former Mayor Susan Thompson appointed Buchwald the chair of the cultural policy review plan in 1996-97. The subsequent Buchwald report continues to guide the city’s cultural policy.
“His extraordinary efforts have greatly enhanced Winnipeg’s quality of life and its development,” Thompson said.
Buchwald was born in Winnipeg in 1928. The son of Frank and Bessie Buchwald graduated from the University of Manitoba with an arts degree in 1948, then received a law degree in 1952 and became a master of law in 1957. He was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in 1952 and was a co-founder of the law firm Pitblado, which was formerly Pitblado Buchwald Asper. He served as the president of the Manitoba Bar Association in 1970-71 and the Law Society of Manitoba in 1975-76.
Buchwald served on the boards of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, the Canadian Consumer Council and the Business Council of Manitoba. In terms of arts organizations, the Order of Canada recipient served on a number of boards, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and became the first executive-director of Arts Stabilization Manitoba Inc.
Many Manitobans will remember Buchwald for his regular columns in the Winnipeg Free Press. But his career as a journalist actually dated back to his university days when he was an editor of The Manitoban. Buchwald also wrote a column for the Jewish Post and News.
A special presentation was also made to Harry DeLeeuw, who founded the Citizens Hall of Fame, during the induction ceremony.
Preston said DeLeeuw’s vision has led to the hall of fame becoming “a permanent memento to the pursuit of excellence and achievement on behalf of one’s community,” as well as a “repository of local history.”
The bronze likenesses by local artists of each inductee are on display in the Formal Garden (southeast entrance) at Assiniboine Park. Past inductees include Terry Fox, Stephen Juba, Duff Roblin, Carol Shields, Gabrielle Roy, Nellie McClung, Dr. Bruce Chown and Carl Ridd. A complete list of inductees is available at www.winnipegfame.ca
“And for the first time,” said Preston, we have moved our selection process this year to enable local sculptor Madeleine Vrignon the time necessary to create the likeness of Harold Buchwald for our induction ceremony.”
The bronze sculpture of Buchwald is slated to be mounted on its granite pedestal during a dedication ceremony to be held on Saturday, September 24, at 11 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public.