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C. BRUCE SHAW
May 31, 1960 – December 2, 2023
Bruce Shaw was born in 1960 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the St. Boniface Hospital. He was the youngest child of Clifton Shaw and Sheila (nee Speirs). He adored his three older siblings, Debra Jantzen, Micheal Shaw, and Robert Shaw and was very close with his mother Sheila Shaw.
Although he spent a couple of years working in Toronto, he was a true Winnipegger. He grew up in the Norwood area on 18 Larchwood Place. For him, Norwood was idyllic. And every summer his mom would pack up the kids, and they would spend the summer at Royal Lake. Swimming, playing cards, and reading were key activities. Books would be torn up and shared, particularly the spicey books like The Valley of the Dolls. He always had to borrow a pencil and paper on the first day of school because they always stayed at the lake until the last possible moment. In his teen years, friends would come out, and although you can imagine what that was like, they also pitched in to help with cabin upkeep. One memorable summer, he decided to skateboard down the big hill just before West Hawk and broke his arm. His mom wasn’t happy, and Bruce was expected to pitch in, cast or not.
In his late teens, his parents moved to Cresentwood. Bruce attended St. Paul’s (unhappily) and eventually left that school and went to Kelvin HS for a year. He wasn’t fond of school or the move, but he did meet some life-long friends during this period. He also loved his attic bedroom with a sound system and headphones. Home life during this period wasn’t ideal, so he spent his nights wandering Winnipeg, often coming home just before or just after his dad went to work.
When he moved out, Bruce shared houses, lofts, and apartments over the years with a large group of friends, including Paul Moore, James Russu, Carol Selwood, Jackie Perez, and Micheal Meadows – all of whom remained his friends throughout his/their lives. During this period, Bruce joined a punk band, played guitar, worked at the Fabulous Futon Factory, and hung out with friends. Through his friend Paul Moore, he got a job as a roadie for Ron Paley and travelled much of Canada with the band. Bruce loved Ron Paley and valued his time working for him.
In the early 80s, Bruce took Carpentry at Red River College. Unlike HS, this was a good experience; he was respected for his skill and spoke of his teachers there with a great deal of respect. Bruce, who never bought into the toxic male culture, also made good friends with Val Unwin, one of the few women in that program. He was her ally and buffer as she navigated a very male-centric program. His time in the RRC Carpentry program gave him the skills he needed to do what he loved. Over the years, he worked at two cabinet-making companies and a small construction company with my brother Robert.
In the late 80s, Bruce moved to Toronto to work with his brother at BFI and then left to work as a manager at a restaurant called Fluffy’s. Bruce was, as usual, absolutely committed to his work. But he also was, at his basic core, interested and engaged with the people he worked with and served. There are many stories of Fluffy’s in the Shaw/Unruh household, but there are also pictures/art he got from customers who appreciate his warmth, interest in them, and generosity of spirit.
Bruce returned to Winnipeg in the 90s, working odd jobs and starting a home renovation company with Robert Unruh. In 1996, he started dating Miriam Unruh. They had known each other casually for a couple of years, but once they started dating, things moved fast. They started dating in August 1996, bought a house together in April 1997, and were married (and pregnant) on August 30, 1997. Benjamin Coltrane Shaw was born in March 1998, and Erin Maxine Unruh was born in November 2000. During this period, Bruce worked at Chairman of the Boards as a Shop Foreman, supported his often frazzled and exhausted wife, walked, and sang to his babies and worked on their house.
Bruce loved being a dad and adored his children. When Ben was being bullied and struggling in daycare, Bruce offered to quit a job that he loved to stay home with the kids. This led to a year of providing daycare for our neighbour's four kids. He was known in the neighbourhood because he was often out and about with all six kids in tow and was an active member of the local playgroup. When both kids were in school, he got a job with a neighbour, Lowell Kornelsen, making and installing kitchen cabinets. He loved working with Lowell but continued to put the kids first. Lowell’s shop was a couple of blocks from the kids’ school, and both men would break for lunch so the kids could come home, and both ended their day when school got out. Bruce would almost always be there to walk home with Ben and Erin.
During this period, Bruce coached Ben and Erin in Soccer, navigated school forms, and made lunches. He was the one who remembered what the kids needed at school. He was also engaged with his nieces and nephews. When his niece Emma was the stage manager for the Glenlawn musical, he spent weeks helping to construct the set. He would also help neighbours and friends with construction projects, helped his brother-in-law tile his bathroom, and his sister and brother-in-law with their recent kitchen renovation.
When the kids were older, Bruce, got a job as a Handy Man at Broadway Construction. This job suited him. Each day was different, which kept him interested in the work. He also loved meeting the people – and often came home with stories and pictures of the food/coffee they fed him. He whistled while he worked so people would know he was coming, was always kind, consistently did more than asked, and took pride in his work.
Bruce loved curling, playing pool, reading and playing music. He came from a curling family and loved to curl as well. He curled with the U of Manitoba league for a couple of years and later with a group of guys from the Elm Park neighborhood. He was always quiet, so yelling, “hard, harder” was never his thing, but he loved to skip and would guide his players with his broom and a quiet “more please.” He was also an excellent pool player, and even though he played rarely, he often won, even against experienced players. He also loved to read. He read fast and with focus and could often finish a book in a day – usually sitting on a chair backyard.
What gave him the most pleasure though was playing in a garage band every Thursday. He was invited to join the newly established Raizen band (now called the Downers). Said yes immediately but didn’t share that he hadn’t played guitar in years. They didn’t play out that often, but Thursday nights in Dan’s garage was sacrosanct. He’d miss a band night for his wife or kid’s birthdays, but not much else. And he and his wife often joked that he didn’t need a therapist, just a night with the guys playing music.
Bruce's family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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