Peter Greenway

Peter Sr. and Pauline Greenway
Written by Canmore Museum

Born in Montreal, Quebec, in March 1927, I was the youngest of a family of four children. My father was vice-president of Fry Cadbury (the chocolate company). We moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, when I was four years old. My father travelled coast to coast, mostly by train, but occasionally by automobile. There were many photos of his travels, including being stuck in the mud over the wheels on Highway #1. He stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel shortly after its construction and skied in the Banff area.

Our summers were spent at a cottage on Lake Winnipeg near Winnipeg Beach. Saturday was “fun night” when we drove to Winnipeg Beach with its roller coasters, other amusement rides and games. A huge dance hall existed where, for a nickel, you and your partner could have two dances. Dad commuted from Winnipeg on Fridays to return on Sunday.

Growing up, I remember important events reported in the Winnipeg Free Press extras, for example: Wiley Post and Will Rogers killed in an airplane crash. Extra, extra, read all about it …war declared in 1939 announcing the dreadful event. My brother joined the army the next day. It was a sad time for all of us but being a lot younger, many other experiences awaited me.

With my friends, we cycled as far as sixty miles to the Lake District and the beautiful Whiteshel area. Fish abounded in the lake and camping was fun … except when a skunk got into our tent and ended on my face one night! We could shoot crows because they were a menace to farmers who offered us five cents for a pair of feet. It was a carefree, fun-filled time.

After attending school, I decided to become an electrician which I accomplished by attending night school and serving an apprenticeship with an electrical contractor. It was varied, interesting work wiring farms, homes, cottages and rewiring the old Walker Theatre in Winnipeg (said to be haunted). After four years, I received my master electrician’s certificate. 

I met Pauline in Winnipeg and after a year of whirlwind courtship, we married in 1947 (even though she was twenty-five minutes late arriving at the church). When we were first married, we moved to Emerson, Manitoba. In 1948, there was a large flood. We had seven and a half feet of water in our house that year. In 1950, we had another flood and nine and a half feet of water in the house. So these were the first years of our married life. The second year we had the flood, we paddled down to a hotel and signed the register from the canoe.

After Emerson, we moved to Kenora, Ontario, to escape the flood waters. The electrical superintendent for the Town of Kenora came to see me and said, “I hear you’re a master electrician. Would you consider going to work for an electrical contractor because his electrician had quit recently and they couldn’t get the electrical service installed in this house unless it was completed by a master electrician?” I agreed and what was to be a two-month stint wound up to be two years. All the equipment and material which had been in my store were lost. I wound up working for Campbell Bros. Electric in Kenora. After being approached by Ontario Hydro, I went to work as an electrical inspector.

In 1953, we were transferred to Port Arthur, Ontario, now referred to as Thunder Bay. It was nice to be in a city again. The scenery was beautiful with Lake Superior in the background. We made many lasting friendships and I enjoyed my position as area electrical inspector. Our interest in the card game, bridge, started here and we enjoyed playing in tournaments in Duluth and Minneapolis. In 1954, our son, William Ernest, was born. In 1957, our son, Peter Ryan, arrived. We were thankful for all our many blessings. While in Thunder Bay, a friend and I decided to try running a hunting and fishing lodge. We could accommodate forty-five tourists and employed twenty-two guides. The lodge was 130 miles over rough logging roads. We had many experiences. One time, we were driving back to Thunder Bay pulling a flat-bed trailer. The trailer broke free and slammed into the bush. We tried to pull it out of the bush but to no avail. We drained the battery of the car pulling it, which meant we had to use the other car accompanying us … six adults, four children, two dogs (that had been eating fish) in a Volkswagen beetle! This was only one of many Adventures.

I was always very content with the work I was doing. It would be difficult to work daily at something one didn’t enjoy. In 1965, I was transferred to the small town of Dryden, Ontario. I travelled the north country by plane and encountered many interesting people and experienced many interesting adventures. My inspection area was 1465 miles long. It encompassed the remotest Indian villages that had power plants. They included Bearskin, Big Trout, Sandy, and Satcheko, to mention a few. They were accessible by air. Some of the people I encountered were eccentric, to say the least. One of these people was an inventor who used to receive a royalty cheque every month, paid to him by a U.S. company for inventing the ball-point pen. His home was built in a very Remote area over the point where geographic meridians converged. He had designed a unique refrigeration system. By augering a hole in the ground and making shelves at various levels, he was able to have foods from frozen to just cold. It was during one of my northern visits that I met Mr. McKenzie, the last free trader in Canada. He was living with natives in Slate Falls, Ontario. One time I flew into Slate Falls and took my son Bill with me. He really hit it off with some native children … so much so that he ended up teaching them how to play poker! 

In Dryden, we formed duplicate bridge club and hosted well-attended tournaments. It was amazing that on a cold winter night, we would have four carloads arrive from Kenora, ninety Miles away to play bridge and return home the same night. That’s what one calls loving the game. It was a great place to raise the boys and the pulp and paper mill provided many resources of sports, facilities and activities. In 1968, we were transferred from Dryden, a small town, to the outskirts of Toronto … talk about a change.

The transfer was a promotion to district electrical inspector (Ontario Hydro) for the City of Toronto. What remarkable change from the remote native villages to inspecting the likes of the CN Tower. From senior electrical inspector, I  was promoted to senior safety officer for distribution and marketing. I travelled quite a bit to the U.S. And overseas. I spent thirty-two years employed with Ontario Hydro and they were a good company to work for. In numerous moves to places such as Oakville, Hamilton, Burlington, Brampton and Mississauga, they looked after the move. Ontario Hydro assembled us for a unique safety issue arranged over an interesting situation which focused on the Russian concern over the final resting place of the Sputnik satellite. All was for Nought as it came down outside our area in the NWT.

The downside of this interesting job  was the tragedy of investigating accidental electrocutions. With the ultimate goal of reducing these incidents, I invented electrical resistant footwear. This invention has saved numerous lives and is widely used today. I was asked to make presentations throughout Canada and the US. I designed testing equipment to be used to demonstrate the electrical resistant properties of this footwear during presentations. Living in the Toronto area was great with so much to see and do. The area was close to Niagara Falls and contained many interesting sites to visit. 

Our sons completed high school and went to university. Bill graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton and Peter from Waterloo and York Universities. Both started on their own career paths. Peter eventually moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he became a bank manager. He married Donna Lawrence (it was great finally have a girl in our family) and she joined him in Calgary. They later moved to Canmore, Alberta. It was here that our two grandsons, Peter and Christopher, were born. Peter quit the bank to work at a heli ski resort in Blue River, B.C. Bill invented a fall arrest device for pole climbers and linemen. This device has been documented and proven to prevent serious injury and death by preventing falls from poles. He has worked for TransAlta Utilities and currently works for Sunshine Ski Village. He currently resides in Canmore. 

At the age of fifty-five, I was given the opportunity to retire early. We bought an R.V. and travelled extensively. We visited Peter and his family often and I thought that a move to Calgary would be quite a change. We were always prairie people at heart and having grandsons in the area proved to be a wonderful experience. I have hunted on a continuous basis for fifty-two years with the same four hunters in Saskatchewan and have fished throughout Ontario and Manitoba. I hunted ducks and geese and especially the latter in the last few years because they are so plentiful. Since moving to Canmore in 1989, we have continued to play bridge. My mother used to travel all over to play bridge in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Duluth. I curl and golf and Pauline is a junior master in duplicate bridge, a game we both very much enjoy. Canmore is great place to live except for the snow and cold weather. The people we have met here have been from all walks of life. Our Seniors Centre and activities are amongst the best as they cater to all types of sports, crafts and indoor and outdoor activities. Life, in general, has been great and I feel very blessed for still being able to enjoy all it has to offer.


Peter Sr. and Pauline Greenway


Peter II and Donna Greenway (parents of Christopher and Peter III)


Peter Greenway, Sr., Peter III (grandson), Christopher (grandson), William Ernest (Son)

In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 105-107.

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