Advanced Search:

Regular Search
❮ Go Back to Listings

Adjust Text Size: A+ A-


On Monday, August 31, 2020, Henry John Selwood (known to all as John) passed away at Grace General Hospital at the age of 83. He was predeceased by his parents, Henry William Selwood and Elah Lucy Selwood (née Samuel.)
He will be deeply missed by his wife Katherine; sister Jill Groves; daughters, Carol Unruh and Lynn Selwood; grandchildren, Riley, Emma and Miranda Unruh and Lucy Selwood; stepsons, James McLennan (Alexandre) and Paul McLennan (Sara); niece Joanna Waldner (Rob) and nephews, Bryn and Roger Groves.
John was born in London, England. His early childhood was spent in Herne Hill and Tulse Hill, South East London. During the Blitz in 1941, he was evacuated with his mother for several months to Exmouth, Devon, while his father stayed in London. The family was reunited in 1942. Their former residence having been bombed, they moved to North West London, in an area between Harrow and Wembley. John's sister Jill was born there.
John attended Glebe Primary School in Harrow. He was in Cubs and Scouts and got kicked out of both: once for stealing apples from a neighbour's tree and the second time for writing an essay about his French teacher, comparing her to a frog. He attended Wembley County Grammar School, taking the bus and train each day, occasionally in the company of Julie Andrews who travelled part of the same route. John's week included an early morning milk run, a daily paper route, and a Saturday morning job at the green grocer's. His recreation was ice skating at Wembley Ice Arena and playing cricket on the school team. Despite various misdemeanours (and several canings), John passed his O Levels.
John's love of music began at an early age. As a child, he was exposed to classical music on the radio daily. He studied clarinet in his teens, and at 16 he joined the army as a member of the Royal Artillery Band on Boys' Service. He later switched to bassoon, continuing with the military band until he was 20. During those years he also played string bass at dance hall gigs.
John's father Henry was a musician as well, playing in the Welsh Guards Band. In 1955, he decided to take a position with the Canadian Forces Military Band. Henry, Elah and Jill moved to Canada, first stationed in Chilliwack and shortly after in Winnipeg. John joined them in 1957. He attended Gordon Bell High School for one year to obtain a Grade 12 University Entrance standing (then equivalent to first-year university). He enrolled in the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Manitoba, working night shifts at Misericordia Hospital. After two years in Commerce, he took a year off to work in the provincial highways department as a bridge inspector and in the lab testing soil samples.
In 1961 John married Anne MacVicar and returned to university to pursue a general arts degree. In his second year of Honours Geography, he and Anne moved to Montreal where John began his master's degree at McGill.
John's daughter Carol was born in Montreal in 1965. She was instilled with her love of travel at an early age, as in 1966 John moved the family to Perth, Australia, continuing to work on his thesis and receiving his Master of Geography in 1968. In Perth he began work on his PhD at the University of Western Australia.
In 1969 John took up a position as urban geographer at the University of Winnipeg and the family moved back, taking up residence in Armstrong Point. He served on the Winnipeg Bach Festival Board, and on the University of Winnipeg Music Committee headed by Harry Strub. He also sat on provincial land use committees and was a member of the Urban Institute founded by Lloyd Axworthy.
In 1970 John's daughter Lynn was born. The 70s were busy times - preparing lectures, trying to do research, returning to Perth to complete his doctorate, and raising a family. Cross-country skiing was his stress reliever, and he enjoyed strong support from members of the University of Winnipeg Geography Department, building lasting friendships with Jim Richtik, John Lehr, Bill Rannie, Tom Carter, Geoff Scott and Salah Hathout. He also took great pleasure coaching Lynn in her study of the cello through the Suzuki program, of which John became a board member.
John's first sabbatical to Perth was in 1986. Through several subsequent sabbaticals, he formed close friendships with colleagues Roy Jones, George Curry, Gina Kozbursky, Ian Alexander, Alan May and Matthew Tonts.
In the summer of 1987, John and his first wife parted ways. John soon met Katherine, beginning a relationship that would last the rest of his life. It was 2006 when John and Katherine actually tied the knot - a lovely occasion held in their Wolseley home. They had 33 wonderful years together, meeting up with friends at Cousins Deli, attending geography conferences, travelling throughout Europe and Australia, sharing their love of music and theatre, and enjoying the grandchildren.
John was an intelligent, kind, gentle man of few words with a dry wit. He was loyal to his friends. He loved the outdoors, a glass of wine (lately vodka), reading, playing Bridge, and most of all, classical music. His last request was to have the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Choir perform the Brahms Requiem at his funeral. Sorry John, there's a pandemic on. A recording will have to suffice!
Cremation has taken place. Some years ago, John spoke of his wish for a wake, rather than a formal funeral, attended by his family and all his friends. Due to COVID 19 restrictions and risks, this will unfortunately be limited to a family gathering to honour his memory. In the meantime, John's family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by visiting his tribute page at A photo-biography, as well as memories and stories published by those who knew him, are available there.
Sincere thanks to the medical staff at CancerCare Manitoba (Health Sciences Centre) and Grace General Hospital for their kindness and expert care of John.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CancerCare Manitoba.

Simple Cremation & Life Celebrations
204-421-5501 –

Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 05, 2020

Condolences & Memories (7 entries)

  • John, we were friends in life. We first saw each other in about 1970 at the University of Winnipeg and then when we got to know each other and Cousin' s Deli. Your good sense of humor with the occasional bit of advice for me were much appreciated. I am sorry you have left so soon. Thank you. And condolences to your family. - Posted by: James Derksen (friend) on: Sep 30, 2020

  • John was one of my profs in the late 1970s and was influential in encouraging me to pursue my MA in Urban Geography. John gave me a tip about a summer job with CMHC in 1982. One of his former students was looking for help. That tip set my career in motion. I've always felt grateful to John for that suggestion. We remained friends for many years until I left Winnipeg in the late 90s. We'd exchange e-mails about something & he'd invite me to join him for coffee & a "natter." My condolences to John's family, - Posted by: Richard Goatcher (Student & friend) on: Sep 17, 2020

  • Hi Katherine So sorry to hear about John's passing. What a beautiful tribute. The last time we saw him at the Finjan concert he was in such good spirits. Will always remember when you came to hear us at the house, before our concert in Toronto. John was so happy then, eventhough at that time he wasn't well. Then all those years later. You are blessed to have had so many wonderful years together. Would love to meet with you when you feel up to it. Erica🌷 - Posted by: Erica Schultz (Friend ) on: Sep 13, 2020

  • Kathy and family: I am very saddened by the news of your loss. John was a unique and wonderful fellow, whom I will always remember with a glass of wine in his hands, and a quick witted comment at the tip of his tongue! Stay strong, and may the many good memories provide some measure of comfort in these difficult days. - Posted by: Carla van der Zweep (friend) on: Sep 13, 2020

  • To Dr. Selwood’s family and friends: Dr. Salah Hathout informed me yesterday of Dr. Selwood’s passing. I am very sorry for your loss. I was a student at the U of W Geography faculty 25 years ago; although I was never a student of his, he was always a real gentleman. I should like to offer these videos which my friend and I have on YouTube: 1. Tim Jamieson Amazing Grace 2. Tim Jamieson Reciting Psalm 23 3. Tim Jamieson Old Rugged Cross Again, my sincere condolences at this time. Tim Jamieson - Posted by: Tim Jamieson (acquaintance) on: Sep 11, 2020

  • I have known John for some 50 years, and we became good friends for as many years. During my years at Brandon University, we organized joint urban fieldtrips, including "night urban geographies". John and myself also shared a keen interest in the cottage landscapes of Manitoba, we expolred these on the shores of lake Winnipeg and in the Riding Mountain region, and we co-published some of our findings. On various occasions, I enjoyed the great hospitality of Cathy and John, and both of them visited us in our cottage at Riding Mountain and our Austrian home near Salzburg. We shared many happy moments at the Prairie CAG meetings, "in the field" and on the bars, the last tome two years ago at Hecla Island. John was a great personality, an honest, generous and empathic person, and a man of many interests and talents. I will miss him very much, but I find consolation in remembering the many happy and enriching moments we pßent together. - Posted by: Christoph Stadel (Former colleague and friend) on: Sep 07, 2020

  • John did have a wonderful (dry) humour that we usually appreciated. One road trip to a conference in New Orleans with Richtik, Hathout, John and I, he was the car wit. At the French Quarters, he persuaded us to lavish a large basin of freshly boiled shrimps. Yum. Just outside we saw a black limo with Muhammed Ali inside for the Spinks fight. John called out to him and Ali obliged with a few jabs and upper cuts. John was a good friend and will be missed by all. -SL - Posted by: Steve and Sue LaDochy (U of Wpg geographers) on: Sep 05, 2020

Ethical Death Care Service

Ethical Death Care Service

530 St Mary Ave (Map)
Ph: 2044215501 | Visit Website

❮ Go Back to Listings