© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated May 3, 2010)

  • Thiessen, Abram J., 1910-2002

    Retrieval numbers: Volume 5414:17-18; Photograph Collection 672

    Title: Abram J. Thiessen fonds
    Dates: 1956-1958, 1982
    Extent: 2 cm of textual records
    Extent: 2 photographs
    Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives

    Historical note

    Abram J. Thiessen: entrepreneur, churchman, and farmer; born on 12 December 1910 to Abram A. Thiessen (1887-1960) and Susanna (Braun) Thiessen (1882-1945) on a farm south-east of Rosenfeld, Manitoba, Canada. He had two younger brothers. On 28 July 1935 Abram J. Thiessen, frequently referred to as "A. J.", married Lenora Friesen (1914-2007) in the Edenburg Bergthaler Mennonite Church. Together A. J. and Lenora had five children: Ronald, Bernhard, William, Irvin, and Carolyn. Thiessen died in Winnipeg on 2 March 2002.
    Even though Thiessen started his career in business in 1931, he became best known for the formation of Thiessen Bus Lines in 1946. It grew to become Grey Goose Bus Lines in 1961 and served western Manitoba and north-western Ontario. Together with partner George Fast, Thiessen also operated a Chrysler car dealership (1936-1957), a farm implement dealer with Massy-Harris (beginning in 1948), a trucking business, and a used clothing and grocery store based in Rosenfeld, Manitoba.
    By 1950 Thiessen had five buses operating. The business kept expanding with the purchase of taxi companies, a bus manufacturer, and sanitation companies. In 1970 Grey Goose went public. In 1977 Thiessen gave up the day to day management of Grey Goose but remained chairman of Grey Goose Corporation.
    As a member of the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba Radio Committee, Thiessen conceived the idea of a Mennonite community radio station in 1955. With Thiessen as chair, a wide range of Mennonite leaders were brought together to form a station that would provide good programs and could be a witness to others in the listening area. On 13 March 1957 Radio CFAM in Altona was started. Thiessen resigned and sold his shares in the station in November 1957.
    Thiessen served on various church and community committees such as Elim Bible School building committee, Altona and Winkler Senior Citizens' Homes, and the Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI), Rosenfeld School Board, the Gnadenfeld School Board. Beginning in 1947 he served in various roles with the Manitoba School Trustees Association and one year as president of the Canadian School Trustees Association. Thiessen also helped found the Mennonite School Trustees Association. Thiessen served on the Province of Manitoba Development Corporation from 1973 to 1976.
    The Thiessen family had a long standing association with the Conservative Party. A. J. Thiessen ran in the federal election in the riding of Provencher in 1953 and lost by a wide margin. In 1962 Thiessen ran in the provincial election in the riding of Rhineland against the Social Credit Party incumbent J. M. Froese, and lost by 32 votes.

    Scope and content note

    This fonds contains information on the founding of a radio station in Altona, Manitoba, an autobiography of A.J. Thiessen, a portrait of Thiessen and a photo of his first bus. Much of the material documents Thiessen's community involvements.

    Index terms


  • Thiessen, Abram J., 1910-2002

    Adjunct descriptive data

    Finding aids

    Inventory file list



    Described by Conrad Stoesz May 3, 2010.

    Restrictions on access

    None to access

    Immediate source of acquisition

    This material was donated in 2009 by Ron Thiessen, son of A.J. Thiessen.

    Other notes

    Accession no: 2010-032

    Inventory File list

    Volume 5414
    1. Documents regarding the establishment of a radio station in Altona, which became CFAM. -- 1956-1958.
    2. "Grace": My Background and Life's Experiences/ A.J. Thiessen. -- 1982.

    Photograph collection 672
    1. Portrait of Abram J. Thiessen. - [194-?]. - 20 x 25 cm [b&w]. This photo is a portrait of Abram J. Thiessen [A.J. Thiessen] as a young man.
    2. Thiessen Transportation Ltd. Bus. - 1946. - 28 x 21 cm [b&w]. This photo is of the first bus owned by Abram J. Thiessen [A.J. Thiessen]. This company became known as Thiessen Bus lines and then Grey Good bus lines.