William (Bill) Gregor was born on January 1, 1926, to parents who emigrated from the Ukraine and settled on a farm north of Roblin, Manitoba. He received his education at the nearby Hillcrest School.
In 1954, Bill married Loreen (nee McKinnon) and together they raised two children—a daughter, Carla, was born in 1956 and a son, Dean, in 1958. Bill and Loreen lived in Brandon until her death in 1982, following which he married Lila (Moore) Rookes. They continue to live in Brandon.
Bill’s working life began in 1944 when he enlisted in the Canadian Infantry. Following the war and leaving with an honorable discharge, Bill trained at Brandon Vocational School as a welder, machinist and tractor mechanic. In 1947, and for the next 22 years, he worked for the Frank Lawson and Sons farm machinery dealership in Brandon as a welder and then later as Service Manager.
Lawsons had the franchise for the Firestone Rubber Company, who supplied the tools and technology needed to change tractor steel wheels to rubber. Bill supervised the extra welders hired to make these changes and in his spare time during the winter taught farmers how to weld. While employed by Lawsons, he experimented with putting hard surfaces on the points of cultivator shovels, thus extending their use by three times. Manufacturers of shovels picked up on his idea and soon started producing their own hard surface shovels. In 1948, Bill began installing the first hydraulic lifts for grain boxes. He also built an iron shear and a forty-five-tonne press for use in his own shop.
In 1969, Bill joined White Farm Equipment as their Territory Service Manager. Many mechanics and farmers attended his service school seminars and workshops. In 1975, he joined Cancade Manufacturing Ltd., a major manufacturer of truck boxes in Brandon. As Cancade’s Plant Manager for the next 13 years, Bill designed a no-leak end gate for truck boxes that are still being used today.
Since his retirement in 1988, Bill has been helping people restore old machinery, inventing labour-saving equipment and working in his shop at his nephew’s trucking firm, Ballingall Bros.
Throughout his working life, Bill’s passion and talents for innovative mechanics were used in the service of others, particularly the surrounding farming community.