Accession A1995-013 - William Neville fonds

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William Neville fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • Sound recording

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MSS 104-A1995-013

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10 m of textual records, 24 photographs, 5 audio reels.

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Biographical history

William Franklin Wymark Neville is a scholar and a politician. He was born on September 15, 1940, in Winnipeg Manitoba. Neville attended the University of Manitoba as a student, during which he served as president of the Student’s Union, until 1963, when he received a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree. He went on to read philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University as a Commonwealth and Rhodes Scholar. He graduated from Oxford with a B.A. in 1966 and a M.A. in 1971.

After Oxford, Neville became a professor in the departments of politics and history at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, where he was also a founding member of the Canadian Studies Program.

Neville went on to serve as a research and administrative assistant to the Manitoba Deputy Minister of Labour for several short periods between 1963 and 1965; and in 1969 and 1970 Neville worked with former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker on the Diefenbaker papers in the National Archives.

Neville returned to Manitoba to act as Chief of Staff to provincial Conservative leader, Sidney Spivak (then leader of the Opposition in the Manitoba Legislature), but after a bitter leadership battle, which saw Sterling Lyon emerge as party leader in 1975, and although Neville had the distinction of being the youngest delegate to the leadership convention (which chose John G. Diefenbaker as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1956), Neville decided to pursue an academic career rather than a political one.

However, while Chairman of the Winnipeg Public Library Commission, a battle with City Council over a plan to establish an independent citizen board stirred him to enter civic politics. With the support of the now-disbanded Independent Citizen's Election Committee (ICEC) behind him, Neville won the Tuxedo Heights ward in a 1979 by-election gaining more than four times as many votes as his two independent opponents combined.

Between the years of 1979 and 1989, as a city councillor, Neville chaired two important ad hoc committees on freedom of information and helped to introduce a greater measure of openness to a secretive city government. He rose to become one of the more influential members of council as a member of the powerful Executive Policy Committee from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1983 to 1986, when he voluntarily withdrew. In late 1988 he removed himself further from the decision-making centre by leaving the city's informal ruling caucus, the Independent Caucus, after a disagreement over the urban limit line against development. He was re-elected by acclamation in 1980 and 1983 and in a contested election in 1986 Neville represented the ward until his withdrawal from politics in 1989.

Neville also taught at the University of Manitoba as an Associate Professor in Political Studies from 1976 until his retirement in 2005. He has also been Assistant to the Vice-President (1976-1982), University Coordinator of Canadian Studies (1978-1982), Assistant to the President (1982-1996), Head of the Department of Political Studies, and Acting Head of Native Studies. Following his retirement in 2005, Neville was named a Senior Scholar in political studies.

During his time as city councillor, Neville also chaired the city’s Historic Buildings Committee (1980-1989), later serving as chair of the Manitoba Heritage Council (1989-2001), and as the Manitoba member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (1996-2004).

In 2001, Neville received the Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Campbell Award for University Outreach for "Enlarging and enriching relations between the University and the community". In 2002, he was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Excellence in Public Administration “in recognition for over 40 years of distinctive leadership in public administration" (selected by the Manitoba Branch of the Institute of Public Administration in Canada). He twice received Heritage Winnipeg's distinguished Service Award, and in 2006, he received the Gabrielle Leger Award, presented by the Heritage Canada Foundation "for services to the nation in the field of heritage conservation".

Currently, Neville is the author of a number of essays, chapters in various books, has written extensively for the Winnipeg Free Press and other periodicals, and is an occasional broadcast commentator on political issues for CBC Radio and Television.

Custodial history

The William F.W. Neville Collection was donated to the University of Manitoba Department of Archives and Special Collections through several accessions from 1985 to 1994. The Memorandum of Agreement was signed on 7 July 1994 and the collection was organized that same year. A subsequent accession was received and integrated into the collection in 1995.

Scope and content

The William F.W. Neville Collection is organized into three series. The first series consists primarily of material relating to his years on Winnipeg's City Council, the second series contains his personal and university material, and the third series relates to his time as Executive Assistant to Sidney Spivak.

The City Council series contains correspondence, unpublished minutes and research reports from many of the committees that Neville served on during his years on City Council. These include the Executive Policy Committee, the Historic Buildings Committee, the Committee on Environment, the Committee on Protection, Parks and Culture as well as numerous ad hoc committees. As a city councillor Neville took an active interest in heritage and artistic issues and the collection is strong in these areas. As well there is much information concerning major capital development projects in Winnipeg during the 1980s. These include the Core Area Agreement, the North Portage Development and issues surrounding the development of Plan Winnipeg.

The personal and university series contains documents relating to the establishment of the Canadian Studies program at the University of Manitoba which Neville was responsible for as Coordinator of Canadian Studies from 1978 to 1982. Also included are materials regarding the Symons Commission. This commission, headed by Prof. T.H.B. Symons of Trent University, strongly criticized Canadian universities for their general neglect of Canadian Studies.

This series also contains lecture notes for courses in International Relations and Politics that Neville taught at Trent University in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Department of Political Studies material from the University of Manitoba, dated from 1981 to 1992, and drafts of Neville's Free Press columns as well as material from the many community organizations that Neville has been involved with throughout his career. These include the Manitoba Heritage Council, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Personal correspondence, newspaper clippings regarding his term as student body President at the University of Manitoba, and material relating to his work on the 1974 election campaign for Duff Roblin are also part of this series.

The third series contains material relating to Neville's work as Executive Assistant to Sidney Spivak, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

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This collection is organized into 3 series.

I. CITY COUNCIL 1979-1990

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Restrictions on access

This collection is open to all users with the exception of those files marked "confidential". Access to these files may be gained with the written permission of Professor W.F.W. Neville of the University of Manitoba.

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A finding aid can be downloaded from the fonds-level description by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.

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Finding aid created by Mark Vajcner (1995). Finding aid encoded by Julianna Trivers (August 2002).
Revision History: July 26, 2005 - MSS 104, PC 111, TC 72 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Revised by N. Courrier (July 2019).

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