February 7: Winnipeg mourns Constable Gillis; Free Press' John Conklin; Doug Henning's magic.

February 7, 2000 - Winnipeg-born magician Doug Henning (52) dies.

Henning began practising magic at the age of 8 after receiving a magic set as a gift. His family moved from Fort Garry to Toronto to when he was 15 and he soon began doing magic at kids parities. After obtaining a psychology degree at McMaster University, he began performing on cross-Canada tours.

He was already a fixture on Broadway and U.S. talk shows when his big break came in the mid 1970’s as host of 'Doug Henning's World of Magic’ on NBC which drew a weekly audience of over 50 million. Later in life he turned to politics as the head of Canada's Natural Law Party. In 2010 he was inducted onto Canada's Walk of Fame.


February 7, 1936 - Winnipeg Police Constable Charles Gillis, 48, dies at Misericordia Hospital. 

Gillis responded to a robbery-in-progress at a gas station at Donald Street and St. Mary Avenue on January 24, 1936. During the foot chase, the thief turned and shot at Gillis. The detectives caught their man but Gillis ended up in critical condition in hospital. His killer was hanged at Headingley Jail on November 20, 1936. (For more on the killing.)


February 7, 1894
- H.A. Hackett is arrested in Winnipeg.
He was wanted for the theft of $21,000 (well over half a million in today's dollars) worth of bonds in Maine. The story of his arrest made news across the northwest U.S., including the N.Y. Times.

February, 7 1952 - The Winnipeg Free Press' John Conklin dies. 

He began working for the Free Press as a teenager in 1886 and was said to have held more positions at the paper in his 51-year career than any other employee. He retired in 1937 after 45 years as the City Editor.

One of his early beats was "hotel reporter", interviewing famous people who were visitng Winnipeg. His subjects included the likes of boxer John L Sullivan, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Also see.)

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