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1939 - 2023
Peter Hudson was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, born in Portsmouth, England in 1939, three weeks before World War Two was declared. His family lived through the bombing of the nearby Royal Navy dockyards. His earliest memories were of spending nights in a bomb shelter wearing a mickey mouse gas mask.
He was an early beneficiary of the newly developed, hard-won, postwar social welfare system in England, which enabled him to attend university, an opportunity that would not previously have been available to a dock-worker’s son. Peter was the first member of his family to earn a university degree. This was a formative experience for Pete, who never forgot how social democratic programs like subsidized university education opened up whole new horizons of possibility, previously denied the working class.
However, work was scarce in postwar England, and, with a characteristic sense of adventure, Pete set his sights on the horizon, sold his bicycle and a few other belongings to scrape up the fare for the boat, and emigrated to Canada with his brother in 1963. Arriving in Montreal, he made his way west, eventually pitching up in Prince George BC.
It was there that he met his future wife Suzanne, while they were both social workers serving the region. After working there and later in Iqaluit, Pete completed a Master’s degree in social work, specializing in community development, at the University of Toronto. Shortly thereafter he accepted a faculty position at the University of Manitoba, where he worked for the remainder of his career as a professor and, for a while, as Dean. In the course of that work, Pete became one of the early advocates for Indigenous child welfare programs.
Pete’s first love was his family. He and Sue resided in Winnipeg for 53 years. They raised three sons in a loving and boisterous household. They opened their home to neighbours young and old, and, along with the Harbecks, Prottis, Briggs, and Kinsellas, helped to build a deep community of family friends on Ash Street and around. Pete loved a big group gathering, music—he tried his hand at banjo and guitar for a bit—and lively conversation. The annual Christmas carol singing party that he and Sue hosted was a neighborhood fixture for over 40 years. He was an avid, but pretty bad, sailor, an enthusiastic and competent canoeist, and a not-half-bad cross-country skier, and curler.
Along with fellow British ex-pats John Loxley and Peter Ferris, Pete helped found the Crescentwood Saturday Soccer Club in 1975. Pete played into his 70s with the team, which would become a passion for him, and the source of many of his most valued lifelong friendships. Pete maintained his relationship with the club long after his playing days were over as supporter and off-field expert, bellowing such sage advice as “use your left foot” and “where’s the width?” from the sidelines. He was immensely gratified to see the emergence of a whole new generation of players who are also dedicated to the joy of the game and to building community through it.
Throughout his life, Pete was very active in the local social justice and progressive movements in Manitoba, spending countless hours advocating for public health care, progressive tax policy, labour rights, and fighting privatization. According to him, “if you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention!!” Pete walked frigid picket lines as a University of Manitoba Faculty Association member in principled defense of public post-secondary education four separate times in his life, once as a professor, and three times after his retirement. Life with Pete as an advocate was never boring. Pete was not shy about his opinions on these matters, and was never afraid of the consequences, including threats of legal action and even death.
Following his retirement, Pete rediscovered his love of acting, which he had dabbled in as a younger man, and was a dedicated member of the Winnipeg amateur theatre community for many years, particularly with the Tara Players and Shoestring Theatre Company. He appeared in numerous plays and had an occasional small role in films.
Pete passed away peacefully following a sudden stroke, in a publicly funded hospital, where he received amazing care from dedicated professionals, despite recent cutbacks to the system. The family would like to thank Dr. Singer and Colleen at Access West and the staff of the Health Sciences Centre on wards GH7 and B2 especially for their incredible sensitivity and professionalism.
Pete is survived by his wife of 57 years, Suzanne, his three sons, Ian, Brett and Mark, his grandson Quinn, daughters-in-law Lisa, Andrea and Mara, his sisters Maureen and Eileen, and numerous nieces and nephews in England. He will be greatly missed by them, and by all who knew him, for his righteous anger, warmth, generosity, boundless joy and wonder at the world that is, and his fierce advocacy for a more just world that may be.
A memorial service will be held at 7:30 on May 29 at the Qualico Cafe (near the Duck Pond) in Assiniboine Park.
If you are so inclined, rather than sending flowers or other gifts to the family, Pete would have preferred that you make a donation to the Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Manitoba, or to the John Loxley/Pollocks Hardware Co-op Scholarship.
Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.
I am not there,
I do not sleep—
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints in snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle, autumn rain.
As you awake with morning’s hush,
I am the swift, up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the day transcending night.
Do not stand
By my grave, and cry—
I am not there,
I did not die.
~Mary Elizabeth Frye
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