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Obituary

WILLIAM SCIAK (published on January 24, 2009)



WILLIAM SCIAK Bill the Barber Peacefully on January 16, 2009 at his residence in Donwood Manor, Winnipeg institution Bill the barber Sciak passed away. He was predeceased by his parents Katherine and John Sciak and sister-in-law Nikki Sciak. He is survived by his brother Joe, his nephew Bill Wizniak (Diane), niece Louise Ferris (Bill) and many great nephews and nieces. Bill was born in Winnipeg on March 16, 1919 and with the exception of his last few months he lived his entire life in the North End of the city attending David Livingstone, King Edward and Isaac Newton schools. After leaving school he followed in his father's footsteps and began working as a barber in his father's shop on the corner of King Street and Alexander where he would eventually count lawyers, politicians, artists and filmmakers as some of his most loyal clientele. Bill, a modest unassuming man, was nevertheless renowned for his immense knowledge of old movies. Winnipeg director Guy Maddin recruited him to create the men's hairstyles for his films Archangel (1990) and Careful (1992). Maddin, upon first visiting Bill in his shop, flippantly asked him to give him a Von Stroheim haircut and was startled when Bill asked to which Von Stroheim movie he was referring. He left the shop proudly sporting a Foolish Wives period do he declared as Magnificent! . In December of 1999, Bill's shop and the building in which it was located were destroyed by fire but many of Bill's regular customers in an extraordinary show of support and affection responded by holding a social for him thus raising enough money for him to relocate to the Dynasty building where he continued to cut hair until his retirement in January 2008 at the age of 88. Along with being featured in Noam Gonick's 1997 documentary of Maddin, Waiting for Twilight , Bill himself was the subject of a 2005 film by Winnipeg video artist Wendy Buelow entitled Bill the Barber which showcased his barbering skills and his unique place in Winnipeg's vibrant chinatown community. Bill's family wishes to thank the caring staff at Donwood Manor, his wonderful homecare workers and the residents with whom he enjoyed many a lively discussion. He will be missed. Cremation has taken place and a private family service has been held. If so desired, donations may be made to the Winnipeg Humane Society in Bill's name.


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