Harvey I. Pollock, K.C.1933 - 2023
Harvey was engrained prairie Manitoban, distinctly north end/ south end Winnipeg urban, and Whiteshell Canadian Shield strong. Each day he awaited sunrise to swing out of bed, activate his personality and engage in the enterprise he knew best: living his life. He loved his life; a gift. And he lived each day as if it were his last. Vibrant and enthusiastic, nothing about Harvey’s youthful 89-year presence was limited nor unadventurous. He never retired; he never unretired. He planned to be in his law office for Monday morning faceoff. But on Sunday, February 5, 2023, that old Yiddish adage “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht”, Man plans and God laughs, knocked. He was a good man deserving a painless peaceful passage in the comfort of his bed. Receiving a gentle kiss from God, he was gone.
This fourth child of Russian Jewish escapee immigrants was born April 10, 1933, at St. Joseph’s Hospital on Salter Street in Winnipeg. He was raised in Bethany, a child of the prairie, picking rocks off fields, bouncing uncontrollably on the metal tractor seat, absorbing blond wheatfields in the blue and fire open sky horizon. He attended country school. He loved his horse, Barney. He observed commerce, his father peddling eggs, furs and seneca root and marketing cattle and hogs. A country store was purchased as well as land to farm.
On February 5, 1944, while his father stayed behind to continue the cattle business and farming, the rest of the Pollock family relocated to north end Winnipeg. Better educational opportunities awaited. Harvey became a student at Machray School and St. John’s Tech. He was fun, active, with no mean spirit. Respect for teachers and authority figures was a life-long transmitted value. His currency was respect. He was invited into the “Trojans” club at the YMHA and made meaningful enduring friendships.
During university, Harvey worked the trains as a sleeping car conductor for CPR, Winnipeg to Calgary. He banked his cheques, spent his tips. Upon finishing his return route, he would hop the train and whistle the rails to Regina where he courted his soulmate, Sylvia Friedman, marrying on December 28, 1954.Their life together was a love story.
Having graduated from the University of Manitoba Law School in 1957, receiving his call to the Bar in 1958, Harvey served as counsel to the Children’s Aid Society of Winnipeg, worked for Hart Green Sr. and Jr., and opened his own firm in 1960. Harvey and Sylvia opened their home to unwed pregnant teenagers. Harvey found loving homes for beautiful babies. For years, Harvey drove Highway 1 west to Portage la Prairie, Thursdays at the Greenberg law firm. In the early 1960s, representing a client charged with Murder 1, thirty-something Harvey during cross examination extracted a compulsion in the chief witness to admit to the murder. A moment better than Perry Mason as this real-life client would have been executed.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood identified Harvey to champion the legal rights of First Nation Peoples. He was a legal pioneer acting resolutely in countless matters, empathetically with a view to creating meaningful change for coming generations. Talmudic justice coursed through Harvey’s belief system. Wrongs were to be righted and constitutional challenges governing hunting and fishing were now in the courts. Harvey was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1970, designated now as King’s Counsel. In 1971 Harvey had the great privilege of being made an Honourary Chief of all First Nations Bands in Manitoba. He was given and proudly received the name, “Si-Naki-Tonem”, he who interprets difficult meanings.
Access to justice was Harvey’s calling card. When J.J. Harper was shot and killed on March 9, 1988, his brother-in-law Harry Wood said, “Get me Harvey”. The Wasagamac Community had its warrior and to war went Harvey. Five words of which he knew the answer, “Did you fingerprint the gun?” set off his firestorm of representation as he cut through complexities in the wild jungle of cover-up and thereafter suffered personal victimization by police personalities seeking revenge for his excellence. He became a media darling. Inquest, Aboriginal Inquiry, civil lawsuit, LERA prosecution, Hugh’s Commission. Perseverance, fortitude, stomach. A book was spawned, “The Shooting Death of JJ Harper” and a television movie where he was prominent lawyer protagonist. The authorities who had attacked him suffered well-deserved criticism. He was “Tuffy”, true to his grade 9 nickname.
For six decades the courtroom was Harvey’s workshop. He was guided by a moral and professional compass. He came home for six o’clock dinner at 427 Boreham Blvd., conveyed material facts and circumstances of cases, and sought ‘learned opinions’ from his school-age children. He was setting the table for the future of his firm. Following dinner, he ritually rested, kissed and hugged his bride, and then returned to his command center to type his own documents and prepare for the next day’s court appearance.
Harvey was a litigator who genuinely cared about his clients. He made time for everyone regardless station in life. He was a centrist thinker. From a silver tongue his word was golden. A handshake was his professional passport. He maintained a profound respect for the courts, judges, law society, colleagues, and the police. He believed in law, order, and civility.
He was dapper in 3-piece suits, Dack shoes, at times topped by fedora. As part of his dapper, he used fountain pens and a blotter to sign letters and documents. Old school. He wore through dictaphones and tapes. He enjoyed having teeming thoughts recorded shorthand but as time travelled digital, he modified; the personal computer, voice activated dictation, iPad and iPhone becoming his techno-frenemies.
Harvey possessed a unique musical talent, his whistling. His instrument was a high pallet and controlled swirl of wind beckoned from unblemished lungs, tunneled through pursed lips. Perfect pitch in the pasture to an audience of cows, on the farm roads, in the school yard, on the streets of north end Winnipeg. Before hitting it big, with Romeo Champagne, he formed the Lipsomaniacs and performed while in university. Harvey practiced until his lips were chapped. Classical music was his acoustic comfort. In 1977 he won the first World’s Whistling Competition in Carson City, Nevada. That accomplishment led to the National Film Board production, “It’s A Hobby For Harvey” and thirty years later, “The Whistling Lawyer” (https://vimeo.com/63325043), and an album. Whistling also led Tuffy to some film work, television appearances, performances with the Winnipeg, Toronto and Bismarck Symphony Orchestras, and countless Manitoba small town fairs and variety shows. But the pinnacle moment in Harvey’s musical career came in 2003 when he had the privilege to guest conduct the WSO in full performance at an evening in his honour.
Harvey was a proud member of his Judaic Tribe. He was complex, skeptical of the address to whom he prayed. When asking his own father at a young age if he believed in a higher being the retort of wisdom came: “It couldn’t hurt.” But Harvey did hurt; on November 13, 1982 losing his 22-year-old son to a drunk driver, on November 30, 2009, losing his 54-year-old daughter and on August 31, 2011, his beloved wife. Work was his medicine. Family, friendships, the collegiality of the legal profession buoyed him from potential crumpling. Harvey was resilient, granite strong.
Sylvia and Harvey were fun; a healthy social circle of friends, they lived, danced, and attended myriad life cycle events. Together they attended the symphony, opera, and theatre. With children, Karyn, Martin and Nathan, memorable summers were Manitoba lived, Falcon Lake and West Hawk Lake. Yard work at his summer cottage, horseback riding, tennis, golf, reading, playing cards, perfecting barbequing skills, operating his twin engine power catamaran, and socializing punctuated time away from legal service.
Harvey was a functional diner, fuel to power his plant. Whatever the dish, be it Chinese or Italian cuisine, grilled rack of lamb, hamburgers, or a Saturday schmaltz herring out of the barrel, his afterburn was the omnipotent proclamation, “this is the best… ever”.
For Harvey, being a loving, good, and responsible husband and father, devoted son, brother, in-law, cousin, uncle, and friend were deep in his DNA. He was proud to be a Pollock and a Friedman by proxy. His lifelong friendships were rich, cultured, and true.
In mourning are: son, Martin Pollock (Lori Hunter), son-in-law Daniel Globerman (Diane Ducas), brother Gordon Pollock, sister Cecile Kowal (Monte), grandsons Ethan, Jesse and Jayden Pollock, grandsons Adam (Dobrochna) and Noah (Samantha) Globerman, granddaughter Simmie Globerman (Kevin Minuk). Harvey was blessed to have great-grandchildren and will be missed by Saul, Mila, Kara, Max, and Sonny. Harvey also leaves to mourn sisters-in-law Pearl Kredentser and Lynne Pollock (Mischa). Harvey was predeceased by sister Myra Kravetsky and brother Mischa, brothers-in-law Lloyd Friedman (Lola), and Sam Friedman (Jean), and sister-in-law Faye Wasel (Harry).