In was a splendid day and a very appreciative audience gathered at the south corner of Langside Street and Ellice Avenue on Tuesday, September 17, for a tribute to former Mayor Bill Norrie. The West End BIZ unveiled a mural featuring the late Norrie, who served as Winnipeg mayor for 13 years.
Norrie grew up in Winnipeg’s West End on Banning Street, and attended Daniel McIntyre Collegiate and United College (University of Winnipeg). He then went on to the University of Manitoba and was awarded a Rhodes scholarship. Norrie came back to the city he grew up in to become one of its foremost leaders over many years.
At the unveiling, Mayor Sam Katz praised Norrie’s achievements and his dedication to the city. He added that the city was one of the sponsors of the mural project.
“This mural honours and celebrates Bill Norrie’s life and recognizes his contributions to the city of Winnipeg,” said Katz, who also thanked the West End Biz for all of their great work to improve the area with their colourful and diverse murals (70 in total) and for getting behind the special project to remember Bill Norrie.
Another prominent Winnipegger, University of Winnipeg president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, who also grew up in Winnipeg’s West End, was pleased to sponsor the mural project, which is located in the University of Winnipeg precinct.
“The University of Winnipeg is honoured to sponsor this newest West End mural, dedicated to one of our most community-minded graduates, Bill Norrie,” said Axworthy. “Bill was a reflection of the West End itself — a person without pretension, who embraced our rich diversity.”
Other sponsors included the University of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Foundation, the Forks North Portage Partnership, Councillor Harvey Smith and WinnipegREALTORS®.
Harry DeLeeuw, founder and first chair of WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame, spoke on Norrie’s community commitment and about how he was so instrumental in making the WinnipegREALTORS®-established Citizens Hall of Fame program a reality in 1986 when former Mayor Steve Juba was selected as its first inductee.
Norrie was not only inducted into the hall of fame in 1995, but was also a champion of the program. He and his wife Helen were always eager to attend the annual Citizen Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in order to acknowledge the successes and contributions of other worthy inductees.
Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, West End BIZ executive director, acknowledged all the special guests and Helen Norrie’s wonderful co-operation in setting up the key pieces to make-up her husband’s mural. She also saluted the two artists who created the mural — Mandy van Leeuwen and Michel St. Hilaire, who have teamed up on other posters in the West End, such as the one dedicated to the late Reverend Harry Lehotsky.
The write-up on the mural speaks of Bill Norrie’s legacy and how he was a leader in so many important Winnipeg initiatives. For example, one image in the mural is The Forks, which Norrie was so involved in as mayor and in his later years.
On a more personal level, the mural shows a framed photo of his wife Helen, photos of his childhood home on Banning Street, and the family summer cottage at Lake of the Woods.