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Walter Dinsdale

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale
Member of Parliament
In office
Preceded byJames Matthews
Succeeded byriding dissolved
In office
Preceded byfirst member
Succeeded byLee Clark
Personal details
Born(1916-04-03)April 3, 1916
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
DiedNovember 20, 1982(1982-11-20) (aged 66)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Residence(s)Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
ProfessionLecturer, social worker, teacher

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale, PC, DFC (April 3, 1916 – November 20, 1982) was a Canadian politician, known for his works with people with disabilities, who served as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament from 1951 until his death.

Early life

Born in Brandon, Manitoba, to Minnie (née Lang) and George Dinsdale,[1] he graduated from Brandon College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937 from McMaster University. He received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1951.[1]


Prior to entering politics, Dinsdale was a social worker with the Salvation Army,[1] and from 1946 to 1951 served as the director of adult education and assistant professor of social services at Brandon College.[1]

Dinsdale enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on 21 November 1941, to fight in the Second World War.[1] He trained at CFB Borden in Belleville and at No. 2 Service Flying Training School in Ottawa, graduating in 1942. He arrived in Europe on 29 December 1942 and ended his military career in 1945 at the end of the Second World War.[1]

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II for his service as a de Havilland Mosquito night-fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, having destroyed four enemy aircraft, including the first Mistel composite "piggyback" aircraft. He also downed V-1 flying bombs, using the wing-tip of the de Havilland Mosquito to knock them off-course.

Political career

Dinsdale was a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) from 1951 until his death in 1982, being first elected in a 1951 by-election with an upset victory to take a seat previously held by the Liberals.

Dinsdale was originally hesitant about running in the by-election, and was fired by Brandon College soon after his nomination. Dinsdale won 56.9% of the vote in that by-election.

During his tenure in the House of Commons of Canada, he represented the riding of Brandon for one year in 1951 until it was merged with the neighbouring riding of Souris to form Brandon—Souris. He held Brandon-Souris from 1952 until his death in 1982, winning 11 consecutive election victories. At the time of his death he was the Dean of the House - the longest-serving Member of Parliament.[2]

During his period as MP, he was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs in 1957, and parliamentary secretary to the same minister in 1960. He then joined the Cabinet of John Diefenbaker as Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources from 1960 to 1963. He was also acting Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys for a few months in 1961.

In 1963, while serving as Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources he chaired the "Resources for Tomorrow" conference, which led to the establishment of a Department of the Environment. Dinsdale worked tirelessly for many causes, including First Nations, international human rights, immigrant Canadians and most notably disabled persons. He was vice-chair of the Special Committee on the Disabled, whose work led to many improvements in services for disabled Canadians, and worked with many international governments and organizations to improve the lives of the disabled everywhere, and in 1981 was Canada's delegate to the United Nations for the International Year of Disabled Persons.


The Walter Dinsdale Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in developing technologies that improve the lives of the disabled, is named in his honour.

Dinsdale was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree by Brandon University and a Doctor of Humanities degree from Richmond College in Toronto for his works with disabled people.[3]


He died from kidney failure in 1982, after suffering a stroke about two months before his death. He is buried in Brandon.[3] Following his death, he was eulogized in the House of Commons of Canada, following which the house was adjourned for the day in tribute.[2]


Walter married Lenore Gusdal, and had 5 children: Gunnar, Greg, Elizabeth, Eric and Rolf. His son Rolf ran as a Liberal Party of Canada candidate in a federal by-election in Brandon—Souris in 2013,[4] losing narrowly to Larry Maguire.

Electoral record

Note: This list is incomplete.

1979 Canadian federal election: Brandon—Souris
Party Candidate Votes %
Progressive Conservative Walter Dinsdale 19,108 52.67
New Democratic David Serle 8,949 24.67
Liberal Vaughn Ramsay 7,918 21.83
Social Credit John W. Gross 302 0.83
Total valid votes 36,277 100.00
Rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 75
Turnout 36,352 74.48
Electors on the lists 48,808


There is a Walter Gilbert Dinsdale fonds at Library and Archives Canada.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Memorable Manitobans: Walter Gilbert Dinsdale (1916-1982)". Manitoba Historical Society, March 3, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Colleagues mourn dean of Commons". The Globe and Mail, November 23, 1982.
  3. ^ a b "DinsdaleWG".
  4. ^ "Rolf Dinsdale to stand for Liberals in Manitoba byelection". CTV News, October 10, 2013.
  5. ^ "Walter Gilbert Dinsdale fonds, Library and Archives Canada". 20 July 2017.
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Walter Dinsdale
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