Cecil and Claire (Diamond) Blankstein by their son Arthur M. Blankstein

My Story...

Among the throngs of Russian immigrants flooding into Canada in the early years of the 20th Century were four families: the Blanksteins, the Goldins, the Diamonds and the Winestocks. My paternal Grandfather, Max Zev Blankstein married Esther Goldin in Russia, and after her death in 1906 he married her sister Lena in 1907. Max was Western Canada's first Registered Jewish Architect and a member of the RAIC (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada). Max designed (amongst many) the Uptown Theater and the Zimmerman Building on Main Street. Max and Lena's son Cecil who was born in 1908, was my father. Along with his 2 older siblings Vera, Wolfe, and 4 younger siblings Eva (Dolgin), Evelyn, Fred and Morley -- they moved from Dufferin, to Machray (home designed and built by Max) and then to McAdam (a home designed by my father) Avenues. My maternal Grandfather Harry Diamond married Adella Winestock in Winnipeg in March 1909. They raised their family in Arborg Manitoba, where Harry operated a General Store - H. Diamond & Son (for over 30 years), and served as the Reeve of the town. Their eldest daughter Claire, my mother, was born in 1909. Along with her sisters Gert (Ludwick) and Rosalie (Boroditsky) and brother Morris -- they later moved to Winnipeg in 1927 and lived at 267 Manitoba Avenue.

My parents married on May 24, 1936. My father Cecil received his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1929 and was the first Jewish graduate of Architecture in Western Canada. After graduation he worked as an architect for the Department of Public Works - Manitoba. He began his professional career in 1931, founding the firm of Green Blankstein Russell Architects and Engineers (later GBR Associates). He was a member of the RAIC, and later was named a Fellow (FRAIC). He was a civilian consultant to the Royal Canadian Navy from 1942 to 1944. After the war, we lived on Glenwood Crescent and then in our home designed by my father at 268 Academy Road. My mother kept a kosher home and was a gentle, caring and loving mother who doted on her sons and family. My brother Max Zoel (Mackie), born in 1938, is married to Yael Kopilovitz and they have four children: Alon (married to Ronit with children Sharon and Michale), Oren (married to Ornat), Guy (married to Mirav with son Bar), and Yuval -- all live in Israel in a development designed and built by my father on French Hill, Jerusalem. I was born on January 25, 1945 and have a partner, Ken J. Litchfield-Ure.

Creativity runs in my family. My grandmother Adella performed on the Winnipeg Yiddish stage. My mother studied piano with the Sisters at St. Benedict and received her A.T.C.M. Performers Diploma from the Toronto Conservatory of Music. My father and his firm were responsible for such architectural projects as the Winnipeg City Hall, Winnipeg International Airport, the Winnipeg Post Office, the Centennial Concert Hall, Polo Park Shopping Centre, Wildwood Park and Shaarey Zedek Synagogue.

My father was a devoted community volunteer. He was a member of the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, the Zionist Organization, past president of the Sharon Club, a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and past president of the Manitoba Association of Architects. He was a member of the Urban Land Institute and the Winnipeg Downtown Business Association. My mother was active with the Board of the Women's Committee of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, The Society for Crippled Children. She was also a founder of Roslyn House (a home and safe harbor for disadvantaged young women) and taught piano to children with disabilities.

A staunch Zionist, my father left his mark on Israeli housing development by combining the principles of high density and privacy for the Tsameret Hibira hillside housing project in French Hill, Jerusalem. After retirement, he maintained his interest in his profession, serving as a consultant for Jerusalem's senior citizens housing project, Nofim.

Blanksteins, Goldins, Diamonds and Winestocks ... four families who stepped onto Canadian soil ... are now four family names synonymous with Winnipeg's Jewish community. At the time of this writing, the Blankstein descendants number over 100 from that first generation and the Winestocks have a Cousins Club that is into it's 4th generation! I am proud of my strong heritage. I support and wish this community a strong future.