Manitoba History: Wealth and Privilege: An Analysis of Winnipeg’s Early Business Elite

by Don Nerbas
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Number 47, Spring/Summer 2004

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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The historiography on western Canada has for a long time accepted the notion that the early western business elite was composed of largely self-made men, who identified with their community and promoted its economic growth. This holds particularly true for the historiography on Winnipeg. From the 1870s on into the beginning of the First World War, so this interpretation runs, there emerged a peculiarly western elite in Winnipeg; these men had made their fortunes in the city, and, as J. M. S. Careless stated, “they had all, above all, become Winnipeggers.” [1] This line of interpretation has been most thoroughly argued by Alan Artibise in his studies on Winnipeg and in his essays on boosterism. [2] Artibise contended that Winnipeg’s early bourgeoisie promoted the economic expansion of Winnipeg at all costs; but in the twenties and thirties, this boosterism was co-opted by the increasing number of branch-plant managers of central Canadian and American corporations who were arriving in the city. Unlike the businessmen that had emerged and identified with Winnipeg in the pre-war era, these men viewed their stay in Winnipeg as a mere stopover in their corporate careers, which would soon lead them to head office positions in Toronto, Montreal, or some such city. Proponents of the western exceptionalist thesis have also interpreted Winnipeg’s early business elite in much the same way as Artibise and Careless; David Bercuson has suggested, for example, that a contributing factor to the labour radicalism that emerged in Winnipeg in the early twentieth century was the existence of “strong-willed,” self-made businessmen, such as Thomas R. Deacon, who refused to recognize trade unions. [3] Similarly, J. M. Bumsted has characterized Winnipeg’s early business class as an uncultured nouveau riche. [4]

At present, one needs only to mention the early western businessman to evoke images of a Horatio Alger-type figure. Robert McDonald’s work on Vancouver’s elite has helped to revise our understanding on this subject. He has argued that old wealth transported from other urban centres played an important role in shaping Vancouver’s social structure. [5] This article sets out to add to a revisionist interpretation of the western business elite by examining the development of Winnipeg’s elite from the 1870s on into the 1930s. Essentially, this article tells the story of a handful of Winnipeg’s most prominent businessmen, examining their economic interests, and how they developed and changed over time. This article also examines the social, cultural and political world of these businessmen. In this way, this article attempts to construct a collective biography of Winnipeg’s early business elite. The businessmen discussed in this article were those who were most significant in Winnipeg’s financial and industrial decision making. [6] After consulting numerous biographical dictionaries, as well as other sources, information on over 300 members of the business elite was obtained, and from this grouping, the relatively small group of businessmen who are discussed in this article have been selected. In the selection of this group, a conscious attempt has been made to provide a representative picture of the elite; as such, the members of the elite who are discussed in this study can be said to be representative of the elite’s general development. Of course, this methodology is somewhat impressionistic, and this article is not any sort of final word on Winnipeg’s elite. What this article does suggest is that historians re-examine the sacrosanct truths about Winnipeg’s early bourgeoisie that have been passed down to us.

The orthodox interpretation leads us to view Winnipeg’s early bourgeoisie as, first and foremost, residents of Winnipeg. This line of interpretation pays scant attention to the concept of class, and as a result, the overarching class structure that connected Winnipeg’s elite with a wider Canadian business elite has been neglected. J. M. S. Careless’ claim, that the early business elite became Winnipeggers above all else, is somewhat dubious when one considers how profoundly class impacted the way in which the bourgeoisie experienced life in Winnipeg. The bourgeoisie formed a cohesive enclave in Winnipeg. They shared a common Anglo-Saxon Protestant background, they lived in common residential areas, they went to the same social and cultural clubs, and engaged in the same leisure activities, and they were a politically cohesive group. In a word, Winnipeg’s elite shared a lot more in common with elites in other Canadian urban centres than they did with a substantial portion of the population in their own city; and, indeed, familial and business relationships connected Winnipeg’s elite to other urban elites in Canada, primarily central Canada. Perhaps the last section of this article most emphatically underscores the need to abandon the orthodox interpretation of Winnipeg’s business elite. In this section, we see how pretensions to community responsibility only lasted as long as they were economically viable. When the economy contracted after 1912, Winnipeg entered a period of relative economic decline, but the city’s elite did not, first and foremost, fight to guard their city’s economic stature. Rather, they sought to guard their own wealth within the context of a national economy that was concentrating and consolidating in central Canada. [7] As such, they merged their own concerns with larger central Canadian firms, and some members of the elite moved from the city altogether; as a result, members of Winnipeg’s business elite actually heightened the city’s relative economic decline. In a sense, this should not be surprising, for the elite arrived in Winnipeg because the city offered promising fields of business, and once those fields of business began to wilt, many members of the elite made the rational economic decision, either merging their interests with larger central Canadian firms or leaving the city altogether. This phenomenon is perhaps even less surprising when one considers the extent to which Winnipeg’s elite was already connected to the central Canadian elite.

The origins of a business community independent of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in the Red River Settlement can be traced back to the early 1840s, when so-called “free traders” such as Andrew McDermot began to engage in the fur trade. By the early 1860s, this merchant group conducted trade that amounted to nearly half of the HBC’s trade. These merchants held strong commercial relationships with American wholesalers, as goods were transported to the Red River Settlement through St. Paul, Minnesota, via cart or riverboat. Through the 1860s, central Canadian capitalists largely stood aloof from the Northwest, as it was a distant and sparsely populated region. The Red River Settlement, however, was beginning to attract a small amount of interest from the east. In 1867, Alexander Begg, representing several Hamilton firms, was the first to introduce “Canadian goods” into the region. [8] And in 1868, James H. Ashdown, an apprenticed tinsmith and the son of an Ontario farmer, arrived in the Red River Settlement. The following year, Ashdown established a tinsmith shop and purchased a small hardware business, which he ran out of a 16 x 18-foot room, with total assets not exceeding $1,000. [9]

In 1869, the site of Winnipeg was still only a settlement of fewer than 200 people, standing beyond the gates of Upper Fort Garry. [10] However, the following year, with the Canadian government’s acquisition of the Northwest, the small village of Winnipeg embarked on a commercial journey, which, by the early twentieth century, resulted in it becoming the third largest city in Canada. The Canadian government acquired the Northwest intent on creating, as Gerald Friesen stated, “a new ‘investment frontier’ that would open the west and enrich the east in one fell swoop.” [11] The development program adopted by the Canadian government—the National Policy—sought to impose an agricultural frontier in the newly acquired Northwest that would export grain and other agricultural products to the east, while providing a market for eastern manufacturers. Aboriginal and Metis peoples viewed the Canadian government’s acquisition of the Northwest, quite rightfully, as an encroachment upon their traditional ways of life, and this concern was brought to the fore during the Red River Rebellion in 1869-70. In 1870, the Canadian government sent out a military expedition—the Wolseley Expedition—to impose its authority over the region, which it succeeded in doing. When the troops were disbanded from the expedition the following year, a number of them decided to stay, and engaged in local business. Private William Forbes Alloway opened a cigar and tabacco store and engaged in trading and freighting, operating as many as 6,000 oxen-carts. [12] Charles N. Bell arrived with the expedition as a sixteen-year-old bugler, and in 1871 he gained employment as a warehouse clerk with the firm of Bannatyne and Begg. The following year Bell also engaged in trading and freighting.

William Alloway described the Winnipeg of 1870 as “a tiny village with but eighteen structures, some frame, but mostly log buildings.” [13] Few hints of Winnipeg’s future commercial pre-eminence were apparent. Through the 1870s, however, Winnipeg underwent a period of steady growth: from a village of barely over 200 people in 1870, Winnipeg had grown to a bustling city of over 4,000 people ten years later, in 1879. [14] As Winnipeg grew, William Alloway’s business interests proliferated. Like many Winnipeg businessmen of the time, Alloway invested in local real estate. He made his first “chunk of money” in Winnipeg when he sold a sizable portion of Armstrong’s Point—which later became a choice residential area of the bourgeoisie—for a profit of $28,600. [15] Alloway was occupied by other endeavours as well. In 1876, he partnered with the Ogilivies of Montreal to establish a flour mill in Winnipeg. Two years later, Alloway retired from his trading and freighting business, as railways were in the process of rendering oxen-carts irrelevant, and engaged in the loan business. And in 1879, Alloway sought out his old friend H. T. Champion to form the private banking house of Alloway & Champion, which included Alloway’s younger brother, Charles, as a junior partner. As a rising tide of settlers arrived in the West in the following years, the firm of Alloway & Champion vigorously bought and sold scrip, becoming “widely known as specialists in all classes of scrip.” [16]

Charles Bell, meanwhile, became the commercial agent for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway in western Canada, following the completion of the first railway to connect Winnipeg with other urban centres—the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway, which was completed in late 1878. By this time, the business interests of James Ashdown had expanded substantially. In 1873, Ashdown took his father into partnership, forming the firm of James H. Ashdown & Co. [17] Two years later, Ashdown moved into wholesaling hardware. He established branches in Portage la Prairie and Emerson, and in 1881, he built a three-story building in Winnipeg to handle his burgeoning wholesale trade. Ashdown also expanded his tinsmith shop to produce “sheet iron ware, galvanized cornices, [and] steam water and gas fitting[s],” employing thirty-five skilled-tradesmen. [18]

Winnipeg’s initial growth spawned the formation of numerous local manufactories. Already by 1874, twenty-seven manufactories in the city were in operation; and this figure reached thirty-nine in 1881. [19] This industrial growth was initiated locally, by an emergent group of industrialists. Alexander Brown and Thomas Rutherford established a small planning mill in Winnipeg in the early 1870s—the first planning mill in the West. John McKechnie established Winnipeg’s first foundry in 1874. In 1877, E. L. Drewry purchased and operated the idle Hercher and Batkin Brewery. And, in 1879, the business acumen of Elisha Hutchings was added to the saddlery concern of Stalker & Caswell, as Hutchings bought out the firm’s junior partner. Taken as a whole, these men represented the core of Winnipeg’s early industrialists.

Alexander Brown and wife Margaret Neilson, c1865.

Alexander Brown and wife Margaret Neilson, c1865.
Source: Archive of Manitoba.

The business class of the 1870s was a homogenous ethnic and religious group, being overwhelmingly British and Protestant, and this demographic remained consistent throughout the period under investigation in this article. The economic origins of the business class were, however, not so homogenous. The manufacturers of the 1870s had, to a large extent, come from peculiarly modest means. These men came to Winnipeg as skilled-tradesmen and emerged from the 1870s as manufacturers, propelling Winnipeg’s transition to industrial capitalism, and it is to these men that this paper will now turn.

Before his arrival in Winnipeg in 1872, Alexander Brown worked as a wheelwright with the firm of Goldie & McLuton in Galt, Ontario. Brown was born in Muikirk, Scotland in 1842, and at the age of twenty, he moved to Canada with his parents and sisters. Upon arrival in Canada, Brown’s father acquired a farm just north of Stratford, Ontario, and young Alexander Brown moved to Galt, where he married Margaret Neilson in 1865. In the spring of 1872, Brown left for Winnipeg with Thomas Rutherford, a co-worker from the Goldie & McLuton plant, while Mrs. Brown stayed behind in Galt with their three children. She wrote to her husband: “It is now nearly three days since you ... left do you think there is a good opening for you in Winnipeg[?]” [20] There was a “good opening,” indeed, as Brown and Rutherford engaged in contract work as carpenters. Brown wrote back to his wife that summer: “We make very good wages and the weather keeps very good.” [21]

Brown’s reference to “wages” is rather misleading, for he was already beginning to hire labourers. In August 1872, Brown explained to his wife: “We took another contract on Saturday to build 4 houses ... We get 1000 dollars for building them ... We will have to get more men. We have got 3 men now and will have another in a day or two.” Brown then went on to explain that he had been offered a contract to do the carpenter work involved in the construction of a hotel, which would necessitate the employment of “4 or 5 more men to carry on all the work at once.” [22] The frontier conditions of Winnipeg during the early 1870s appear to have offered skilled-tradesmen like Brown considerable opportunities to achieve social mobility. Indeed, Brown was quite confident that he would accumulate wealth in the future. Brown wrote to his wife, regarding the partitioned home that he and Rutherford were constructing for their families: “I send you a rough plan of the house upstairs[.] ... we are going to brick it up inside ... and plaster both sides of the bricks[.] it will be very warm [.] we will put in board partitions with lath and plaster ... so that we can use it for something else when we get rich enough to build another.” [23] He would, indeed, accumulate enough wealth in the future to build another house.

In the fall of 1873, Mrs. Brown’s brother, who lived in Scotland, wrote to her, expressing delight at his brother-in-law’s success in the West: “I am glad to hear that Alexander is getting on so well. Why, it seems truly wonderful that the lad at Muikirk making ‘Coal Boggus’ should now be a master Cabinet Maker. It really does appear that a man, if pushing, will get better on in the West than here.” [24] By this time, Brown and Thomas Rutherford were in the process of buying machinery for their nascent planning mill, laying the foundations of the firm of Brown & Rutherford. This firm enjoyed steady growth immediately after it was established, manufacturing “sash, doors, blinds and general builder’s supplies in the lumber line.” The firm’s bustling planning mill on Bannatyne Avenue, which employed some thirty-five workers, was fed with lumber shipped up from Minnesota. And in 1879, Brown & Rutherford expanded its operations to manufacture lumber as well, building a sawmill on Lake Winnipeg, with a daily manufacturing capacity of 25,000 feet of lumber. The firm also purchased a steamboat and several barges, which were used to freight lumber from the Lake Winnipeg plant to the plant in the city. [25] The expansion of the firm’s business had, by 1882, compelled Alexander Brown and Thomas Rutherford to relocate their Winnipeg operations to a larger plant; they sold the Bannatyne site, and built a large planning mill and lumber yard in Point Douglas. Adjacent to the new planning mill, Brown and Rutherford built two large and identical houses, side-by-side, for their families. [26]

Like Alexander Brown, John McKechnie arrived in Winnipeg in 1872. Born in Loch Lomond, Scotland, McKechnie came to Canada with his family at the age of ten. Through the next eight years, he remained on the family farm in Paris, Ontario, attending public school. Following this, McKechnie was apprenticed as a millwright and worked in the US and Canada. When McKechnie, at twenty-eight years of age, arrived in Winnipeg, he found work in a sawmill and shortly thereafter he was employed as an engineer in a flourmill. In less than two years, in 1874, with the small amount of capital that he had accumulated from his wages, McKechnie opened a small foundry. [27] The following year, McKechnie entered into a partnership with William W. McMillan, brother of grain merchant, flour-miller and future lieutenant governor, Daniel H. McMillan, forming the Winnipeg Foundry Company. This concern enjoyed substantial growth; by the early 1880s, the company’s operations consisted of a well-outfitted machine shop, a pattern shop, a smith’s shop, and a modern foundry, which produced two to three tons of metal, daily. [28]

Elisha Hutchings was born in Leeds County, Ontario in 1855, the son of English immigrants who had settled in Leeds County nearly twenty years earlier. Hutchings’ childhood was spent on his father’s farm, and he received his education in country schools. At the age of fifteen, Hutchings entered upon a three-and-a-half year apprenticeship to become a harness maker. Following his apprenticeship, Hutchings worked as a journeyman, saving money to head West, where he was determined to seek his fortune. Hutchings arrived in Winnipeg in the spring of 1876, and proceeded on oxen-cart to Edmonton, lured by the image of the “Eldorado” of the far west. Hutchings’ time in Edmonton proved to be a disappointment; the stories of gold strikes had proven fallacious, and Hutchings subsisted by practicing his trade and by hunting and trapping. [29] In the spring of 1877, Hutchings returned to Winnipeg, but this time he stayed. Hutchings began to work independently, repairing the padded areas on carts and buggies. Initially, he had to acquire the leather, thread, and other materials on credit. But the quality of his work brought him more and more customers, and soon he was making ten to fifteen dollars a day. [30] Through the spring and summer of 1878, Hutchings ran his business out of a rented shop, but in the fall he closed down, devoting the following winter to real estate speculation. And in 1879, Hutchings bought out the junior partner in the saddlery concern of Stalker & Caswell. By the early 1880s, this firm—which became the Great West Saddlery Company—operated retail and wholesale stores in Winnipeg, as well as a branch house in Portage la Prairie. [31]

Brown, McKechnie, Hutchings, and even James Ashdown, all achieved substantial mobility during the 1870s. That said, it is important to qualify the actual extent of their mobility. To begin with, none of these men came from backgrounds of urban poverty; rather, they all came from relatively prosperous farming backgrounds, as well as all being apprenticed in a trade. Moreover, Hutchings and Ashdown had come from quasi-entrepreneurial families: as a child, Ashdown received a business education in his father’s country store, and later his father became a partner in his Winnipeg business, while Hutchings’ father had been involved in the lumber business. In addition, the career-patterns of Brown, McKechnie and Hutchings—the tradesman-turned-industrial capitalist—represented a degree of social mobility that, to a large extent, never reproduced itself among those members of the business elite who arrived in Winnipeg later on. The frontier conditions of the 1870s, then, appear to have resulted in a particularly fluid period of class formation in Winnipeg’s history.

The problem is, of course, that popular myth has assumed that substantial upward mobility was the norm, rather than the exception. The evidence suggests otherwise. Based upon a survey of several biographical dictionaries [32], supplemented by other sources, the economic origins of thirty-two prominent Winnipeg businessmen of the 1870s have been compiled. Of this group, nine were apprenticed in a trade and/or came from a farming background. Whereas—using the occupation of the father and other family members, as well as educational levels as indices—twenty-three people from this group appear to have come from professional or business classes. Thus, even when Winnipeg was but a small frontier town, the business community was composed primarily of men who had come from relatively affluent families. William Alloway, for example, was born in Ireland in 1852 to a prominent Protestant family, whose roots could be traced back to the Battle of the Boyne. His father, who was a Captain in the British military, immigrated with his family to Canada in 1855; they settled in Hamilton initially, but two years later they moved to Montreal. In Canada, Alloway’s father became an officer with the Queen’s Own Rifles, as well as the owner of “some fine race horses”, which William Alloway and his brother, Charles, would ride in various fairs. [33] And, young William received his education from the High School of Montreal, a department of McGill College. [34] Charles Bell, though not of the same patrician upbringing as Alloway, was also born into a fairly well-to-do family; his father worked in the civil service in Perth, Ontario, where Bell attended a grammar school, receiving an education in the arts. Furthermore, even though most of Winnipeg’s emerging industrial elite came from relatively modest means, this did not hold true in all cases, as in the case of E. L. Drewry.

Born in London, England in 1851, E. L. Drewry moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota at the age of six, where his father owned and operated a brewery. By the age of sixteen, Drewry had become involved in his father’s brewery, and at the age of twenty-three, in 1874, Drewry married Eliza Starkey, the daughter of a prominent St. Paul politician. Three years later, in 1877, Drewry moved to Winnipeg, taking over an idle brewery, which he operated as the Redwood Brewery. Drewry’s sixteen-year-old brother, George, also arrived in Winnipeg that year, helping in the operations of the brewery. In 1881, Drewry’s other brother, Fred, who had been educated in the business college in St. Paul, came to help in the management of the Redwood Brewery. By the early 1880s, the brewery had been expanded substantially. George Drewry superintended the brewing operations, which had a capacity to produce “10,000 barrels of ale, porter, and beer per year”, while Fred Drewry overlooked the plant’s soda water works, which could produce fifty to seventy bottles of carbonated drink per day. [35] It is reasonable to conclude that E. L. Drewry’s economic origins were noticeably different than tradesmen-turned-manufacturers like Alexander Brown and Elisha Hutchings. Drewry came from an affluent family, and his marriage to the daughter of Captain James Starkey, Speaker of the first Legislature of Minnesota, provides a testament to the established wealth and status of his family. The Redwood Brewery, then, represented a sort of informal extension of the Drewry family business. Unlike the tradesmen-turned-manufacturers—who accumulated much, if not all, of their capital locally—Drewry appears to have come to Winnipeg with capital in-hand, as he purchased the brewery the same year he arrived in the city. Later on, the social significance of old wealth as compared to new wealth will be discussed, but, at this point, the discussion will consider the transition within Winnipeg’s business community that began to occur by around 1880.

Accumulating capital in Winnipeg: Drewry’s ale and lager beer brewery, Main Street, 1884.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

In his study on Winnipeg’s wholesale trade during the late nineteenth century, Donald Kerr wrote,

In the late seventies a distinct change took place in the trade and commerce of Winnipeg. As a result of a number of complex and interrelated factors, not the least of which were the improvements of transportation facilities to eastern Canada and the excitement generated by the possibility of railway building on a large scale, economic growth accelerated at a remarkable rate. [36]

In 1879, barely over 4,000 people resided in Winnipeg; in 1880, 8,000 people resided in Winnipeg; and by 1881, more than 16,000 people lived in the city. [37] A speculative boom in real estate had engulfed the city by early 1881; land prices soared and many speculators made a “killing.” However, in the spring of 1882, the boom collapsed, and the central Canadian and British financial institutions that had financed the boom responded by calling in their loans and tightening up lending policies. A large number of local businesses went bankrupt. [38] Winnipeg, nonetheless, had emerged as a noteworthy commercial centre.

The composition of Winnipeg’s economic elite underwent a substantial transformation through this period. With the inflow of central Canadian and British capital, numerous scions of the central Canadian, and to a lesser extent, British, business class arrived in Winnipeg. In 1881, R. T. Riley—whose father was a shipper in London, England, as well as a part owner of the London Daily Telegraph—arrived in Winnipeg to rescue the faltering Manitoba Drainage Company, which was involved in the business of irrigating farmland, on behalf of the prominent Hamilton ready-made-clothes manufacturer W. E. Sanford. [39] The next year, Sanford placed Riley in charge of all of his western investments, which, aside from the drainage company, included substantial real estate investments, as well as a wholesale branch of Sanford’s Hamilton-based manufacturing plant. [40]

In 1881, Frederick Brydges, having arrived in Winnipeg a year earlier, established the Vulcan Iron Works. Born in England in 1852, Brydges came to Canada with his family when his father, C. J. Brydges, was appointed managing director of the Great Western Railway; C. J. Brydges—himself a recent arrival to Winnipeg, coming to the city as the Land Commissioner of the HBC—was a personal friend of the prominent central Canadian capitalist A. T. Galt. [41] In 1873, having attended McGill University, young Frederick Brydges married Jean Allan, daughter of Montreal financier Andrew Allan, a founder of the Allan Line Steamship Company. Brydges was joined in Winnipeg by his brother-in-law in 1883, the nineteen-year-old William Rae Allan, who helped with the management of the Vulcan Iron Works, which merged with the Winnipeg Foundry Company the same year. In 1888, Brydges sold his interests in the iron works, and joined Allan to form the financial firm of Allan, Brydges & Co. Another brother-in-law of Brydges’, twenty-year-old Frederick Stobart, joined him in Winnipeg as well, coming to manage his father’s wholesaling firm, Stobart, Eden & Co. Stobart came from a prominent English family. His father lived in Yorkshire, holding the position of managing director in a large mining firm, as well as directorships in numerous similar firms; the Canadian Album explained, the Stobarts “for generations back, have been typical English country gentlemen.” [42]

John Galt, a son of A. T. Galt, came to Winnipeg with his cousin, George F. Galt, in 1882. Soon this pair commenced the wholesale grocery business of G. F. & J. Galt, which quickly established a considerable trade. [43] The twenty-three-year-old Augustus Nanton, whose father had been in partnership with A. T. Galt, appeared in the city as well, arriving in 1883 to manage the western investments of the Aberdeen-based North of Scotland Canadian Mortgage Company.

These newly arrived businessmen sought to expand upon family wealth, and the wealth of the central Canadian and British firms that they represented. Despite the fact that these men came from bourgeois families, scholars have persisted in labelling Winnipeg’s economic elite as essentially self-made. In his study on industrial relations in Winnipeg, David Bercuson, for example, described Augustus Nanton as a nouveau riche who had “not yet mellowed by the passage of time or the self-assuredness that generations of wealth sometimes brings.” [44] To some extent this is true. Nanton’s father died at a young age, leaving five children behind. And Nanton left school at the age of thirteen to help with the family finances, working as an office boy in the firm of Pellat & Osler. [45] It is important not to mistake a stage in a business career for an indication of class, however. Nanton, in fact, came from an upper-class family. His father was an Oxford-educated lawyer and, as already noted, a former partner of A. T. Galt; moreover, his mother came from the prominent Jarvis family of Toronto. Nanton’s early work career, then, was more of a business education than anything else. Like numerous young, bourgeois men, Nanton was being groomed for the important business positions that he would fill later in his life. [46]

The arrival of scions of the moneyed central Canadian bourgeoisie in Winnipeg signalled the growing importance of non-local capital in Winnipeg’s economy. Differing from the tradesmen-turned-manufacturer—who emerged during the 1870s, having accumulated their capital locally—men like William Rae Allan and Frederick Brydges came to Winnipeg to expand upon—rather than to create—fortunes. Moreover, Allan and Brydges controlled an amount of capital which dwarfed the capital of locally-made businessmen: the 1891 Dun and Bradstreet credit report indicates that the firm of Allan, Brydges & Co held assets of $750,000 to $1,000,000—the next most valuable firm owned by a Winnipeg resident was James Ashdown’s wholesale concern, which had assets of $200,000 to $300,000. Thus, upon their arrival in the city in the early 1880s, and by virtue of the amount of capital they controlled, scions of the central Canadian bourgeoisie were important members of Winnipeg’s business elite.

After the collapse of the 1881-1882 real estate boom, Winnipeg’s economic growth slowed substantially. In 1885, however, as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was being completed, Winnipeg entered a period of “comfortable prosperity and steady growth”. [47] Elisha Hutchings acquired full control over the Great West Saddlery Company that year. His bustling Winnipeg factory produced saddles, whips, carriage equipment, trunks, valises, leather bindings and a variety of harnesses and collars. In 1888, Hutchings was awarded a lucrative contract to supply the North West Mounted Police with saddles. The next year, Hutchings opened up a wholesale branch in Calgary, which was operated by his brother, Robert J. Hutchings. In 1891, Hutchings established another branch, this time in Edmonton, and through the 1890s the Great West Saddlery Company established branches in Regina and Saskatoon. [48] James Ashdown also expanded further west, opening a branch of his wholesale hardware concern in Calgary in 1889. [49] Winnipeg grain merchants were also becoming a powerful group. Nicholas Bawlf, who had commenced a flour and feed and grain business in Winnipeg in 1877, expanded his operations outside of Winnipeg through the 1880s. [50] In 1887, he, along with Charles Bell and Rodmond Roblin, spearheaded the creation of the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange. [51] The city’s business elite was still not entirely satisfied, however. In 1889, George F. Galt lamented, “at present our population does not afford that scope of business operations which we desire, and it is also true that competition is keen and profits inadequate.” [52]

From a small group of little national significance in the early 1870s, Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie was in the process of ascending to national prominence. The growing prominence of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie was evidenced in 1891, when J. H. Brock, along with other prominent local investors, including James Ashdown, R. T. Riley, George F. Galt and Daniel H. McMillan, founded the Great-West Life Assurance Company to compete with central Canadian financial institutions. [53] The early 1890s proved to be a disappointment for the aspirations of much of the elite, however, as the economy stagnated. Frustrated with Winnipeg’s economic slowdown, Frederick Stobart lashed out at the National Policy in 1894:

If this portion of Canada is to advance at all, it is a prime necessity that protection, which benefits a handful of manufacturers in the Eastern portion of Canada, must be done away with, and the absurd theory that Manitoba and the Northwest exist only as a market for Eastern Canadian manufacturers, abandoned. [54]

This structural dynamic in the national economy never did change. Nevertheless, nearing the turn of the century the elite’s discontent would be remedied, as Winnipeg and the whole of Canada entered a period of unparalleled economic development. In 1900, E. L. Drewry confidently stated, “there exists a perfect basis for our faith in Winnipeg becoming in the early future a really great and wealthy commercial centre.” [55] In the short-term, at least, Drewry’s prediction would prove correct. From 1901 to 1911, Winnipeg’s population more than tripled, emerging as Canada’s third largest city, with over 130,000 residents. [56]

Local manufacturers prospered enormously. Elisha Hutchings incorporated the Great West Saddlery Company in 1900 with paid-up capital of $250,000, as well as expanding its retail outlets throughout the prairies. Hutchings built another manufacturing plant in Winnipeg in 1910, which, along with his other Winnipeg plant, was “equipped with the latest up-to-date electrical machinery as fine as can be found on the market.” Soon these plants were employing 300 workers. By 1911, the company’s capital had expanded to $2,000,000. [57] E. L. Drewry along with his brother, Fred, expanded their brewing concern, establishing several branch plants in western Canada; their assets grew to over $1,000,000. [58] New manufacturing concerns were established as well. Thomas R. Deacon and Hugh B. Lyall established the Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works Ltd in 1903.

Winnipeg wholesalers grew in affluence and power. [59] Led by James Ashdown, Winnipeg wholesalers succeeded, in 1897, in securing privileged freight rates from the CPR, putting Winnipeg merchants at a distinct advantage over other western merchants; the following year, other railways gave Winnipeg merchants the same concession. [60] As such, Winnipeg wholesalers were able to further penetrate western markets. In 1902, James Ashdown incorporated his retail and wholesale businesses into a single firm—the J. H. Ashdown Hardware Company Ltd—which emerged from the first decade of the twentieth century as “one of the foremost commercial houses in Canada.” [61] John Galt and George F. Galt, in 1907, founded the Blue Ribbon Company—which dealt specifically in teas, coffee, spices, and baking powder—as a subsidiary of their wholesale grocery business. By 1910, they wound up their wholesale grocery business, devoting all their attention to the Blue Ribbon Company, which, over the next decade, quadrupled the volume of its trade. [62]

Table 1. Estimated Pecuniary Strength of Winnipeg Wholesalers, 1891-1911.*





James Ashdown


$200,000 - 300,000

over $1,000,000

D. R. Dingwall


$5,000 - 10,000

$125,000 - 200,000

G. F. Galt and John Galt


$75,000 - 125,000

$300,000 - 500,000 and
$125,000 - 200,000
(from the Blue Ribbon Company

Alexander MacDonald


$75,000 - 125,000

over $1,000,000

Thomas Ryan

Boots and Shoes

$20,000 - 40,000

$200,000 - 300,000

G. F. Stephens

Paints and Oils

$10,000 - 20,000

$200,000 - 300,000

Frederick Stobart

Dry Goods

$200,000 - 300,000

$500,000 - 750,0001

R. J. Whitla

Dry Goods

$125,000 - 200,000

$500,000 - 750,0002

* Source: Dun and Bradstreet Credit Reports, 1891 and 1911.

1 Frederick Stobart no longer resided in Winnipeg in 1911.

2 Original proprietor of the firm, R. J. Whila, died in 1905.

Winnipeg’s business elite was also considerably involved in the world of finance capitalism. The Northern Trusts Company was organized in the early 1900s by a local group of businessmen, with a capital of $2,000,000. R. T. Riley played a leading role in forming the company, becoming the company’s managing director; George F. Galt became the president; and James Ashdown and Augustus Nanton sat on the board of directors. [63] Augustus Nanton—having become a junior partner in the central Canadian brokerage house of Osler, Hammond & Nanton, in partnership with E. B. Osler, the founder and president of the Dominion Bank—was probably Winnipeg’s most important financier. Through the 1890s, Nanton oversaw the financing of four railways, and, in 1914, he was given a directorship in the CPR. Nanton represented the interests of other powerful central Canadian firms as well, including the Toronto General Trusts Corporation, the Ogilivie Flour Mills Company, the Cockshutt Plow Company, and A. T. Galt’s Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company. [64] In 1911, Nanton and George F. Galt were appointed to the HBC’s London Committee. [65] Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie was growing, then, in national and even international importance. Indeed, the growing power and affluence of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie was such that central Canadian capitalist Joseph Flavelle commented in 1911 that Winnipeg’s banking business would outstrip Toronto’s within five years. [66]

Considerable transactions were being made in Alloway & Champion’s headquarters on Main Street. This private banking house became substantially involved in the business of changing currencies and sending money abroad, as the influx of central and eastern European immigrants, who had begun to arrive in the city in large numbers by the turn of the century, made such transactions a lucrative business. [67] Alloway & Champion also invested in local real estate and expanded its loaning facilities. In 1912, Alloway & Champion was incorporated with paid-up capital of $1,205,000. [68] That year, R. T. Riley, accompanied by John Galt and E. L. Drewry, attended the annual shareholder’s meeting of the Union Bank in Quebec City, where Riley succeeded in convincing the shareholders to remove the bank’s headquarters from Quebec City to Winnipeg. With the headquarters moved to Winnipeg, the Union Bank prospered. Shares rose from $100 to $150, and the bank increased its assets to over $150 million. [69]

Banking in Winnipeg: The Union Bank building, corner Main & William, Winnipeg, c1910.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

As Winnipeg experienced substantial growth through the boom years of 1897 to 1912—interrupted by a brief recession in 1907-08—it made good sense for businessmen and companies to move to Winnipeg—as many did. Douglas C. Cameron started a Rat Portage (Kenora)-based lumber company in 1883. The economic stagnation of the early 1890s left Rat Portage lumber manufactures with excess capacities, causing Cameron to spearhead a rationalization of the Rat Portage lumber industry; under his directorship in 1892, all the local lumber companies were merged into a single incorporated concern—the Ontario & Western Lumber Company, later to be named the Rat Portage Lumber Company—with Cameron becoming general manager; and in 1894 Cameron became president. [70] By the early 1900s, the expansion of the Rat Portage Lumber Company, along with Cameron’s other business interests, “necessitated his removal to Winnipeg” from Rat Portage; Cameron moved the head office of the Rat Portage Lumber Company to Winnipeg as well. [71] In 1912, the managing director of the Toronto-based Sovereign Life Assurance Company of Canada, John H. Meiklejohn, moved the company’s headquarters to Winnipeg. [72] Similarly, scions of the moneyed central Canadian bourgeoisie were attracted to the city. The twenty-two-year-old Hugh F. Osler, son of E. B. Osler, arrived in Winnipeg in 1903 to work in the western office of Osler, Hammond & Nanton. W. Sanford Evans, whose father-in-law was Edward Gurney, prominent Toronto manufacturer and former mayor of that city, came to Winnipeg in 1901 to manage the Winnipeg Telegram, and soon devoted all his time to business, establishing the financial firm of W. Sanford Evans & Co in 1905, and later playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Winnipeg Stock Exchange. [73]

Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie emerged from the boom powerful and affluent. On 31 December 1913, the city’s bourgeoisie heralded in the New Year with ostentatious displays of wealth. At the Royal Alexandra Hotel 700 people took part in the celebration. Those who attended all wore paraphernalia that had been specially ordered in from New York, which included “[p]aper hats of the most elaborate description, Hussar helmets, Chinese wigs and pigtails.” The dining room was draped with festoons of fancy coloured paper, and numerous people indulged in “glorified children’s joys.” At midnight the party retreated into the ballroom, where they were entertained the rest of the night by five orchestras. At the Hotel Fort Garry a smaller, yet better established, crowd attended. The Free Press reported, “The scene in the luxurious foyer, as the guests began to assemble was a gay one, and one which gave testimony to the wealth and importance of the citizens of Winnipeg.” [74] Outside of the enveloped world of the bourgeoisie, the picture was a lot different. The economic downturn that inflicted the city in the fall created mass unemployment; and through the winter, regularly, 400 to 500 workers waited outside the CPR’s Weston Shops in the hopes of getting work. [75] Mayor Thomas R. Deacon protested against the displays in the various hotels throughout the city; he thought that this type of flaunting gave “the wrong impression.” [76]

The opulence displayed at the New Year’s celebration of 1913-1914, reflected the sizable amount of capital that had been accumulated by the city’s bourgeoisie. It also reflected the self-assuredness of a politically powerful group. Through property qualifications and multiple voting, the bourgeoisie succeeded in marginalizing the working class and other dissenting voices from municipal politics, while amplifying their own political clout. [77] The bourgeoisie’s hegemony in civic politics dated back to the incorporation of Winnipeg itself—which was achieved in 1874—as James Ashdown chaired the citizens’ committee that obtained Winnipeg’s incorporation. [78] Prominent businessmen were quick to use city council to direct the city’s—and by extension, their own—economic growth. In 1879, city council passed a by-law, proposed earlier by James Ashdown, to pay a bonus of $300,000 towards the construction of a bridge over the Red River in order to secure the passage of the CPR mainline through Winnipeg. And in 1881, the city granted the CPR another $200,000 bonus, substantial land grants, and permanent exemption from taxation in order to have the CPR locate its workshops and depot in Winnipeg. [79] The elite, as Alan Artibise wrote, “sought an administration that would attend to the finances and day-to-day processes of municipal government in a businesslike manner and, when called upon, would use public funds to promote the growth the businessmen desired.” [80]

In the period up until World War I, William Alloway, Alexander Brown, E. L. Drewry, and Elisha Hutchings all served as aldermen at one time or another, while James Ashdown, Thomas R. Deacon and Sanford Evans all served terms as mayor. The political cohesiveness of the elite was remarkable, as they shared the fundamental belief that the municipality should serve as an adjunct to private enterprise. While the elite devoted the city’s resources to promote private business—in 1911, for example, city council allocated $400,000 for the expansion of the Industrial Bureau—they refused to spend public monies on ameliorating the truly deplorable and ultimately tragic sanitation and housing conditions in the city’s working-class North End. [81] Likewise, the establishment of an adequate waterworks system was long-delayed—as several severe outbreaks of typhoid had already occurred in the North End because of tainted water—and when the Greater Winnipeg Waterworks District was finally established in May 1913, it was done primarily for development reasons. Thomas R. Deacon, president of the Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works, was elected mayor that year, with the support of a number of prominent local businessmen, on the platform of “Vote for Deacon and a real supply of water.” [82] Deacon spoke to an audience at the Industrial Bureau in October 1913:

We have just undertaken—I was elected for that purpose—the bringing in of fresh water. On October 1 the electors of the city ratified a by-law for the raising of thirteen and a half millions of dollars to bring in from a mountain lake [Shoal Lake] about ninety-five miles distant from the city, a sufficient water supply of pure soft water to supply a city of one million inhabitants, which we hope to have there within the next twenty years. [83]

Deacon viewed the completion of the waterworks, primarily, within the context of economic development. And, indeed, Deacon stood to increase his profit margins in the Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works, as the new water supply was less corrosive, thus giving the pipes and boilers in his factory a longer life. [84] United by a common set of interests and concerns, the bourgeoisie was a powerful enclave that dominated civic politics, taking turns serving terms in council and the mayor’s office. The bourgeoisie’s privileged access to positions in municipal government is suggested in the following correspondence, from Sanford Evans to his wife: “Bill Alloway asked me the other day if I would run for mayor [and] I told him that I didn’t know. Today he said it would be a go if I say so. I think that is the way things are shaping up.” [85] A month later, Evans was informed—by Richard D. Waugh, who would also become mayor later on—that he was the Manitoba Free Press choice for mayor. [86] He was elected mayor in 1909.

Even though the business elite dominated municipal politics, it would be an oversimplification to assume that wealth automatically conferred political power. Elisha Hutchings was unsuccessful in his two bids at the mayoralty, in 1896 and 1897. After his second defeat, Hutchings claimed that the city had “deserted” him:

I have done a great deal towards developing the city and since they have deserted me, I will desert them ... I will withdraw from Winnipeg and make a town of my own where my services will be appreciated. I have the plans perfected and it is only a question of time before the city will be receiving very little taxes from me! [87]

This quote reflects the elite’s assumption that political power naturally belonged in their own hands; Hutchings believed that the city was indebted to him by virtue of his “services” and that he had therefore been betrayed when he was not elected mayor. In attempting to understand why Hutchings did not succeed in becoming mayor, the social differences between himself and the majority of the bourgeoisie provide a possible explanation. As a tradesman-turned-manufacturer, Hutchings was not well-versed in bourgeois social and cultural mores, nor did he have familial connections to the rest of the bourgeoisie, and this may have lessened his social standing in bourgeois social circles, which, given the bourgeoisie’s dominance in municipal politics, may have been politically damaging. Also, Hutchings never became a member of the Manitoba Club, which was a veritable who’s who of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie. Hutchings, similarly, did not live in the stylish residential area of the business class, but instead, he lived in the quasi-working-class Point Douglas area. Speculatively, then, we might conclude that political power amongst the city’s bourgeoisie did not necessarily correlate with the amount of wealth that one controlled—recall, Hutchings’ Great West Saddlery Company was conducting business throughout western Canada at the time he vied for the mayoralty—but it also depended upon one’s integration and acceptance into bourgeois society circles.

Hutchings’ threat to remove his plant from the city is also quite interesting; it tends to contradict Alan Artibise’s argument that the elite were avid city boosters. When examining the boosterism of the elite, it is important to recognize that boosterism was based fundamentally upon economic rationalism, or at least the elite’s perception of it. Through the pre-World War I period, the economic interests of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie were tightly interwoven with the city by virtue of the type of capital that much of the bourgeoisie controlled. Industrial capitalists like Hutchings, Deacon, and Drewry were very much tied to the community, as Winnipeg’s growth meant a larger home market for their manufactured goods. Likewise, a sizable portion of the elite speculated in local and regional real estate; the value of these assets were highly dependent upon the prosperity of Winnipeg, and the West generally. In 1910, the Winnipeg Telegram ran an article entitled “Winnipeg’s Ever Widening Circle of Millionaires,” which gave some indication as to the elite’s involvement in real estate:

In the east wealthy millionaires have a large portion of their money invested in stocks, bonds and similar securities, the value of which is easily estimated. In Winnipeg more wealth is represented in real estate. It is probably more valuable than stocks but the ready present value is a little difficult to estimate.... There are hundreds of men holding Winnipeg and western property at the present time, which if the country continues to prosper and expand will as values rise be bound to be rated as millionaires. [88]

That said, it is important to note that numerous members of the elite invested in real estate on behalf of central Canadian, British and US interests. [89] The personal papers of Sanford Evans, for example, suggest that his real estate transactions were primarily done on behalf of foreign financial companies. In 1908, Evans received an offer from the C. S. Dudley Company of Minneapolis—a financial firm—asking him if he would sell for them a tract of Saskatchewan farmland, for which he was offered a commission of $1.50 per acre; and in 1910, Evans sent a circular to a London, England-based trust company, promising a seven to ten percent return on investment in western realty. [90] Evans, of course, also held important familial ties to the central Canadian bourgeoisie, and so while he may have controlled locally and regionally invested capital, as well as being the mayor of Winnipeg from 1909 to 1911, he was nationally and internationally oriented in terms of his business and familial relationships.

Generally scholars have tended to overlook the dense social and business networks that connected members of Winnipeg’s elite to a larger national, or even international, business class. The common assumption has been that Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie developed as a distinct group, whose status as residents of Winnipeg was paramount; the evidence is a lot more unclear than this assumption would have us believe. Frederick Stobart, for example—who had been sent out to look after his father’s wholesaling firm in 1880, and who served a term as president of the Winnipeg Board of Trade in 1893—had left the city prior to World War I, moving back to England; he apparently lived out the rest of his life as an English gentleman in Bedford, where he presided over his Canadian investments from afar. [91] For the most part, however, in the period before World War I businessmen flocked to, rather than away from, Winnipeg. Indeed, within the context of an expanding national economy, it made perfect sense for businessmen to migrate to the city, as Winnipeg was a city of growing economic importance. At the height of Winnipeg’s relative economic power, William Alloway marvelled at how the small village, merely forty years earlier, had become the “metropolitan city of Winnipeg.” [92]

The wealth and power of the bourgeoisie played an important role in shaping distinct, bourgeois social and cultural activities and lifestyles. The residential pattern of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie illustrates the growing cohesiveness of a class that was increasingly seeing itself as distinct from the rest of society. Scions from the moneyed central Canadian bourgeoisie, along with others who came from affluent backgrounds, came to Winnipeg with established bourgeois social and cultural mores, and it is therefore not surprising that they were the first to migrate outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. The patrician William Alloway—having just married Elizabeth McLaren, daughter of James McLaren, Ottawa Valley lumber baron and president of the Bank of Ottawa—built a mansion on Armstrong’s Point in the late 1870s, which, at the time, was a rather secluded area. Despite the relative seclusion of the Alloway residence, it nonetheless “became the early social centre of Winnipeg.” [93] The young scions of the central Canadian bourgeoisie, who arrived in the city in the early 1880s, also sought out secluded residential areas. Augustus Nanton, William Rae Allan, and future president of Great-West Life, George W. Allan, among others, resided in a bachelor pad—known as “The Shanty”—that was partitioned from the rest of the city by the Red River; this bachelor pad was located on what would become Roslyn Road, which emerged in the twentieth century as one of Winnipeg’s most affluent streets. “The Shanty,” as well, became a centre of social life in Winnipeg, as it was later described as “the greatest centre of social activity in the old days.” [94] These were some of the foundations of what would later be referred to, collectively, as the South End.

Away from the commotion of the city, the South End allowed the bourgeoisie to maintain their own preconceived notions of propriety. The patrician Englishman Frederick Stobart, who resided alongside the Assiniboine River in Armstrong’s Point, objected to boys swimming near his house, and threatened to horsewhip anyone who did. [95] Given this, one can see that a residence in the city’s bustling downtown area would have been completely unacceptable to Stobart. The nouveaux riche did not have such strict notions of propriety initially. Based on a sampling from the Henderson’s Directory, those members of the elite that came from old wealth tended to be the first to move to the exclusive, stylish and park-like quarters in the city’s South End, while those from newly acquired wealth moved later. [96] By 1890, parvenus such as Hutchings, Brown and Ashdown were still living in quasi-working-class residential areas. Hutchings lived near his factory in the mainly working-class Point Douglas area; Brown, too, continued to live in Point Douglas, and unlike most, he continued to live there until his death in 1912. Ashdown, meanwhile, lived in the downtown next to a butcher. [97]

As divisions of class became more pronounced in the city, men like Ashdown and Hutchings moved into the city’s South End as well. Before the turn of the century, Ashdown moved into a house on Winnipeg’s showcase street, Broadway, and later he moved to one of Winnipeg’s most affluent streets, Wellington Crescent, in the upper-class residential development of Crescentwood. In 1906, Hutchings came to Crescentwood as well, leaving behind his fairly modest Point Douglas home to move into an opulent mansion across the street from Ashdown.

Crescentwood and Armstrong’s Point were consciously developed as upper-class residential areas. Armstrong’s Point was described as “The Fabourg St. Germain” of Winnipeg, while the developers of Crescentwood inserted zoning requirements to insure that the area would remain exclusive to the wealthy. [98] The fact that these residential areas were successfully developed as the exclusive bastions of the bourgeoisie was most powerfully exemplified by the parochialism that developed within the city. John Marlyn’s Under the Ribs of Death described this parochialism. In this novel, Marlyn described the experience of a Hungarian boy from the North End crossing into the South End for the first time:

It was as though he had walked into a picture in one of his childhood books, past the painted margin to a land that lay smiling under a friendly spell, where the sun always shone, and the clean-washed tint of the sky and child and garden would never fade; where one could walk, but on tip-toe, and look and look but never touch, and never speak to break the enchanted hush.

It grew real. There was the faint murmur of the city far in the background and overhead the whisper of the wind in the trees.

The green here was not as he had ever seen it on leaf or weed, but with the blue of the sky in it, and the air so clear that even the sky looked different here.

In a daze he moved down the street. The boulevards ran wide and spacious to the very doors of the houses. And these houses were like palaces, great and stately, surrounded by their own private parks and gardens. [99]

By the early twentieth century, the bourgeoisie lived almost exclusively in these upper-class developments or, in some cases, in the well-to-do residential area adjacent to the north, around Broadway. Located almost exclusively in the city’s South End, the bourgeoisie maintained lifestyles where visible signs of wealth were commonplace. Indeed, having wealth and using that wealth to live a patrician lifestyle was a badge of status. By the late nineteenth century, for instance, Town Topics—a paper, beginning publication in 1898, that was devoted to High Society—had begun to publish photos of Winnipeg’s “pretty homes,” where the mansions of the elite were put on display. Augustus Nanton’s mansion, “Kilmorie,” on Roslyn Road was among the largest in the Winnipeg. Built on a five-acre lot in 1900, the mansion included four rooms for the maids alone, two bowling alleys, a music room, and a billiard room—just to name a few; at one gathering at Kilmorie 180 people attended. [100] Years later, Charles Bell’s daughter reminisced about what it was like as a child growing up in the South End in turn-of-the-century Winnipeg [101]: she had happy recollections of Harry Ashdown—at that time a young man, and heir to the J. H. Ashdown Hardware Company—taking her for rides in the car and teaching her the alphabet, as well as memories of going on carriage rides with the lieutenant governor’s wife—Lady Schultz—who would always stop to buy a banana split along the way. [102] A cohesive urban establishment had been formed.

The elite sought to maintain exclusiveness in their leisure activities as well. They were considerably involved in breeding and maintaining racing and show horses. Augustus Nanton kept prize-winning horses, and before cars superseded them, Nanton would ride horse and carriage—chauffeured of course—every morning at seven. [103] William W. McMillan “maintained a splendid stable” and “for many years drove one of the finest turnouts seen on the streets of Winnipeg.” [104] Douglas C. Cameron—who was also a lieutenant governor from 1911 to 1916—was a horse enthusiast, who maintained stables that were awarded first honours in all the western shows. [105] William Rae Allan was also active in raising horses, being the founder of the Prairie Thoroughbred Breeders and Racing Association, which comprised the leading racing and show horses in the West. [106] By 1910, the horse shows in Winnipeg were paying considerable purses. [107]

Displaying wealth: The home of Douglas C. Cameron, 65 Roslyn Road, Winnipeg, c1910.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

Other leisure activities that occupied the bourgeoisie’s time included golf and rowing. The bourgeoisie enjoyed many rounds of golf together at the St. Charles Golf and Country Club; indeed, the club’s membership list reads like a veritable who’s who in Winnipeg. [108] Many were also involved in the affairs of the Winnipeg Rowing Club, which was founded in 1883 by George F. Galt, who, a year earlier, had been a Captain of the prestigious Argonaut Club of Toronto. In the early years of the club’s existence, such notables as Augustus Nanton and Frederick Stobart became oarsman in the club, and, in later years, William Alloway and E. L. Drewry each served a term as president of the club. Given the prominence of the club’s membership, it was quite natural that “the club house was on occasions the rendezvous for Winnipeg’s smart social set.” The next generation of the elite involved themselves in the club also: Conrad Stephenson Riley, son of R. T. Riley, was active in the club, as well as E. L. Drewry’s son, Charles Drewry. [109]

Elite social clubs played a considerable role in bourgeois life. The Manitoba Club, founded in 1874, was at the forefront of Winnipeg’s elite social clubs. Membership in the club, as W. L. Morton has noted, “was practically a certificate of leadership in the commercial community.” [110] The club was exclusive to males, and the procedures for admitting new members—which required that entrants be sponsored by two members, pending approval by at least 80 percent of the club’s general membership—insured that the club’s membership would remain exclusive. [111] The club was a place where the elite could relax, unwind, or possibly talk a little business on the side. [112] The Canadian Club of Winnipeg, founded in 1904 with the help of Sanford Evans, provided a similar atmosphere, allowing its members to “chat, drink, and play cards and billiards.” [113] Differing from the Manitoba Club, however, the Canadian Club had a specific mandate—to encourage the cultivation of “Canadian culture.” For Evans—who co-founded the Canadian Club movement in Hamilton in 1892—the cultivation of Canadian culture meant the cultivation and celebration of British culture. [114] The equation of British culture with Canadian culture and civility was common, as the elite was overwhelmingly British and Protestant. Indeed, the elite tended to view immigrants from central and eastern Europe with suspicion and contempt, especially those immigrant labourers who engaged in working-class politics. [115] The Canadian Club brought together likeminded businessmen and professionals, with an emphasis on intellectual pursuits; meetings consisted of “poetry readings, speeches on aspects of Canadian history and life, [and] music by Canadian composers”. [116] Those involved in the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Club included such notables as James Ashdown, C. W. Gordon (Ralph Connor), Fred Heubach, J. W. Dafoe, and Conrad Stephenson Riley. [117]

Table 2. Residential Areas of Winnipeg's Elite.










North of Portage1









Between Portage and the Red River2









South of the Red River3


















1 All of those who lived north of Portage came from relatively modest backgrounds, with the exception of E. L. Drewry, Armine Frederick Banfield and George Carruthers. E. L. Drewry lived next to his brewery in the North End. Armine Frederick Banfield, who was born to a leading merchant family in Quebec City, lived in the downtown; by 1900, however, he had moved to the area around Broadway Street. George Carruthers, who had been in partnership with J. H. Brock in the insurance business during the 1880s, lived in the North End on the banks of the Red River, secluded from the urban poverty that characterized much of that area.

2 Most of the people who lived in this area came from privileged economic origins. Armstong's Point was a particularly high status residential area within this area. Those who lived in Armstrong's Point included Frederick Brydges; J. A. M. Aikins, lieutenant governor of Manitoba in the late 1920s; John Galt; R. T. Riley; William Alloway; Frederick Stobart; Hugh Sutherland, railway contractor, Dominion Superintendent of Public Works from 1874 to 1878, Member of Parliament for Selkirk in 1882, and an organizer of the Hudson's Bay Railway Company; as well as the sons of Charles Tupper, James Stewart Tupper and William Tupper.

3 In 1890, few members of the elite lived south of the Red River; but those who did live there came from very well-to-do central Canadian families - e.g., William Rae Allan and Augustus Nanton. And as the figures demonstrate, over the next thirty years most of the bourgeoisie migrated to this part of the city.

Charles Bell was also involved with the Canadian Club, being elected president in 1912. Bell had long been involved in intellectual endeavours. In 1879, he helped to found the Manitoba Historical and Scientific Society, which was heavily patronized by Winnipeg’s business and professional classes. In 1885, he was made a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, being “acknowledged as one of the greatest living authorities on the history and archaeology of Manitoba and the mid-west”; he later received an honorary degree from the University of Manitoba. [118] Bell also had an impressive collection of early maps, “Indian artifacts,” and old diaries and letters, which interested many of the guests that visited his large house on Carlton Street. [119] Bell, as well, published two local histories—The Selkirk Settlement and Settlers in 1887 and The Old Forts of Winnipeg in 1927.

Women also played a role in bourgeois intellectual and cultural life. Irene Evans, wife of Sanford Evans, became the first president of the Woman’s Canadian Club of Winnipeg in 1907—the female equivalent of the men’s Canadian Club. [120] The Women’s Social Science Study of Winnipeg also attracted a number of women from the elite, where they would research and discuss the pressing social concerns of the day, such as industrial relations and the character of non-British ethnic groups. [121] The Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg was distinctly bourgeois as well.

Six women informally began the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg in 1894—Margaret Stobart, wife of Frederick Stobart, among them—for the purpose of meeting “together weekly for mutual improvement by study and practice of music.” [122] Up until 1899, members of the club hosted the meetings in their homes. Town Topics described a meeting that was hosted by Ethel Nanton, wife of Augustus Nanton: “The programme, though not a long one, was excellently chosen, and contrary to the general rule at musical functions, strict silence was preserved which showed the thorough appreciation of all present.” [123] In 1901, the club secured a hall in the National Trust Building for its meetings, later moving its meetings to the Y.M.C.A hall, and in 1911 the club was incorporated. One’s ability to “appreciate” good classical music—that is, “good taste”—was a necessary qualification for membership in the club. One of the club’s bylaws stated that “[p]ersons’ interested in good music and the encouragement of musical culture in the community shall be qualified for admission to Club membership.” [124] Here, it is important to note that one’s taste in music contains strong connotations of class. As scholar Pierre Bourdieu pointed out, “nothing more clearly affirms one’s ‘class’, nothing more infallibly classifies, than taste in music”; having a taste for classical musical depends, fundamentally, upon a privileged upbringing which allows for such pursuits. [125]

By examining those women who filled leadership positions in the club, the connection between taste in music and privileged economic origins becomes apparent. In brief, those who had come from old wealth tended to play particularly important roles in the functioning of the club. Irene Evans served as president of the club from 1903 to 1906. As part of being the daughter of a prominent Toronto industrialist, she received a patrician upbringing as a child, allowing her to become a gifted pianist, as well as the founder of the Woman’s Musical Club of Toronto in 1889. In Winnipeg she became a central member in the city’s cultural elite. One contemporary explained, “She presides with gracious hospitality over an attractive home which is the center of a cultured society circle.” [126] Her leadership in this circle was evidenced when she wrote to her husband in March 1915: “I have a bunch coming here tomorrow for tea and music so [I] spent this morning baking cake and cookies—its good to be at the helm again.” [127] Likewise, George F. Galt’s wife served a term as president as well, from 1900 to 1901, and she was the daughter of the prominent surgeon Sir William Hingston. [128] Edith Rogers, wife of Robert A. Rogers, owner of Crescent Creamery and notable Liberal, sat on the club’s board of directors; she was the daughter of local financier W. J. Christie and the great-granddaughter of Sir George Simpson—and so on.

Bourgeois social life: Garden party at the home of Hon. Robert Rogers, 197 Roslyn Road, Winnipeg, c1920.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

On the other hand, the wives of tradesmen-turned-manufacturers like Alexander Brown, John McKechnie and Elisha Hutchings were conspicuously absent from the membership of the Women’s Musical Club. Although a more comprehensive and systematic analysis would be needed for a definitive answer, those who came from wealthy economic origins seem to have been able to attain a higher social standing than those who came from modest means. Indeed, the membership roles of the most important social clubs—the Manitoba Club and the St. Charles Country Club—tends to support this conclusion, as the tradesmen-turned-manufacturers appear to have been excluded from those clubs. However, at this point it is not possible to determine whether or not they applied for membership. So, it is possible that they were not excluded, but rather, simply did not apply; in which case, it is likely that they chose not to apply because they did not feel comfortable in upper-class society. Though, it does seem somewhat unlikely that, given the social importance of the Manitoba Club, men like Hutchings would have stayed aloof from the club had the door been open to them.

The evidence tends to contradict the widely held notion that Winnipeg’s economic elite was largely composed of uncultured parvenus. To a large extent, Winnipeg’s elite was simply an extension of the central Canadian bourgeoisie. As such, they arrived in Winnipeg with very well defined notions of social distinction and culture, and they used this cultural capital—that is, their ability to competently engage in upper-class cultural affairs—to guard their social status. Of course, conspicuous consumption also played an important role in imbuing status. In 1915, Irene Evans gave an amusing account of a dinner that Mrs. Cameron—or rather Lady Cameron, for her husband, Douglas C. Cameron, had been knighted in 1911—hosted in honour of her aunt, Mrs. W.E. Sanford:

Last Night the Cameron’s [sic] gave a dinner of 18 for Aunt—To me a most stupid affair but she enjoyed it and was lovely in pale grey velvet and her gorgeous diamonds. I urged her to wear them and it was lovely to see the eagle gaze of Mrs. Hugh S[utherland] and Lady C[ameron] fasten upon them. [129]

The parvenus also partook in similar ostentatious displays of wealth. Elisha Hutchings, for example, built a country home that was quite literally a castle, complete with turrets and elaborate woodwork, just northeast of Winnipeg, which he named “Chateau Hutchings.” [130] Though, even in his conspicuous consumption, Hutchings seems to have been outside of the cultured, bourgeois society circles, for the Lake of the Woods region was the central vacationing spot of the bourgeoisie. This region had clearly become a favourite summer haunt for the bourgeoisie in 1899, when Town Topics referred to it as “our ‘gay Coney Island’.” [131] Nanton owned a fabulously large summer home there, and so did Robert A. Rogers. His wife, Edith Rogers, spent much of her summer at this residence, where she played host to her husband’s business associates. In the summer of 1920, Robert A. Rogers brought executives of his company out to the Lake of the Woods. Later, one of these executives, Ned Boyle, wrote a deferential letter to Edith Rogers, thanking her for the hospitality:

The little party from your camp arrived here [Winnipeg] safely about midnight. It would not be right to say that they were happy at the thought of having to leave your hospitable mansion; however, it would be accurate to say they were all delighted with the entertainment they had received. [132]

While the role of their husbands was to provide the family with material wealth, bourgeois wives sought to maintain their family’s social standing. Douglas Durkin’s 1923 novel, The Magpie, provides a portrait of bourgeois society in Winnipeg, and in the character of Jeanette Bawden, we receive some indication as to the role of bourgeois wives:

When one is married the only thing worth while seems to establish one’s position securely in society and then spend all energies fortifying it . I moved in [my husband’s] circles, played bridge with the wives of his clients, sought ways to help him make his position more secure. [133]

The numerous teas, dinners, and other informal social gatherings that characterized Winnipeg High Society helped to consolidate the dense social networks that interlinked members of the elite. And in such social situations, the role of hostess was of considerable social importance. One such social gathering was the garden party of Mrs. Mabel Galt—wife of John Galt—at her Fort Rouge home, in 1898. Described as “the prettiest garden party ever given in Winnipeg,” it attracted some of Winnipeg’s most prominent families. Brydges, Alloway, Allan, Stobart and Nanton were but a few of the prominent Winnipeg families who were represented at the party. [134] The general impression that one gets from this party, as well as the numerous other social gatherings that received coverage in Town Topics, tends to suggest, yet again, that those from old wealth were at the forefront of cultured society circles. Indeed, Table 3 illustrates the dense familial and business connections that interlinked those from old money—essentially those who had come from the central Canadian bourgeoisie.

Table 3. The Perpetuation and Consolidation of Old Wealth in Winnipeg. *

1 W. Sanford Evans was the nephew of W. E. Sanford’s wife. He moved to Winnipeg in 1902.

2 J. A. M. Aikins was a director in William Alloway’s bank - Alloway & Champion.

3 R. T. Riley came to Winnipeg in the early 1880s to look after the western investments of W. E. Sanford.

4 J. W. Hamilton was connected to William Rae Allan and John Galt through his position as general manager of the Union Bank - he was appointed to that position in 1923.

5 R. D. Baker was born in Winnipeg in 1895, and became the general manager of James A. Richardson & Sons, stockbrokers and bond dealers.

6 G. W. Allan acted as the lawyer for Osler, Hammond & Nanton in Winnipeg.

* Those on the top row of the graph - other than C. J. Brydges - never lived in Winnipeg. Apart from Conrad Black, the rest of those in the graph did live in Winnipeg; however, a number of them left the city later in their careers - e.g., George Montegu Black Jr., Gordon P. Osler, Augustus Nanton, and Douglas Lorn Cameron.

In their palatial homes in the city’s South End, surrounded by wealth and luxury of all kinds, and mingling amongst their own, enclosed social circles, members of Winnipeg’s elite were, in a very real sense, utterly isolated from the rest of society. At the same time, however, they also held strong pretensions to civic responsibility; this was evidenced through their involvement in philanthropy. Bourgeois wives played a particularly active role in philanthropic work. Since the turn of the century, Ethel Nanton had been involved in the Margaret Nursing Mission, which engaged in charitable/missionary work in the city’s North End. [135] And, during World War I she operated her summer home at Lake of the Woods as a convalescent home for returned soldiers. Edith Rogers was also very active in philanthropic work, being active on countless welfare agencies. Within the city, she was a woman of considerable importance. Elected as the first woman to the provincial legislature in 1920, Rogers concentrated much of her political efforts towards securing child welfare legislation. [136] Mrs. Alloway was also heavily involved in the city’s philanthropic work. Among other things, she maintained a ward of fourteen beds for the Children’s Home, as well as being a steady contributor to the Margaret Scott Nursing Agency. When she died in 1926, she left $800,000 to the Winnipeg Foundation. [137] The bourgeoisie’s involvement in philanthropic organizations was not limited to women, however. Leading Winnipeg businessmen were the ones who backed these institutions financially. William Alloway, for example, started the Winnipeg Foundation in 1921—with a gift of $100,000 in government bonds. [138]

It is important that we do not mistake these acts of giving as simple charity. As historian Mariana Valverde has shown, philanthropy was not merely indiscriminate giving, but rather an attempt to “reform” the lower classes. [139] For example, the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg joined forces with a number of local charities through the winter of 1913-14 to put on a series of musical performances in the North End. In promoting these concerts, some “3000 handbills, announcing the concerts in four different languages, English, German, Ruthenian, and Polish were distributed in the North End with the assistance of the Associated Charities, The Margaret Scott Mission, Day Nursery, Free Kindergarten and the Deaconess Home.” [140] These performances were, then, very clearly intended to “refine” the working class, and particularly those who were not British. The Free Press lauded these performances as a “new conception of social service”, which provided those “less fortunate fellow-citizens” with access to music, “with its spiritual influence and refining qualities.” [141] For the bourgeoisie, philanthropy was a means to socialize the lower classes, teaching them responsibility and discipline—in short, preparing them to become hard workers on the job and loyal citizens at home.

The elite saw indiscriminate giving as a perpetuator of pauperism. In 1910, a committee composed of members of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and the Winnipeg Board of Trade produced a report that complained that some charities “conduct their work in such a way as to increase pauperism rather then reduce poverty”. The report continued, “Perfunctory or indiscriminate giving is vicious, [sic] the privilege of giving includes the duty to give wisely.” [142] The sentiment of this document expounded a belief that only those “deserving” of charity should be given access to it. And, indeed, attempts were made to separate the “deserving” from the “undeserving.” In 1914, the Winnipeg Board of Trade endorsed a proposal, tabled by the Winnipeg Builders’ Exchange, that put forth the idea that the Canadian government establish a labour bureau to monitor and assess workers. The purpose of such a bureau was “to classify the workers and separate the steady industrious labourer from the work-shy degenerate and drunkards.” [143]

The bourgeoisie’s involvement in philanthropic work was fundamentally rooted in their paternalistic attitude towards the lower classes. Workers who sought to unionize were regarded as troublemakers. Industrialists, like Elisha Hutchings and Thomas R. Deacon, refused to recognize labour unions. In 1911, Hutchings dismissed ten of his employees when they refused to sign a document forbidding them from unionizing. [144] Eight years later, while 30,000 workers participated in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, Deacon explained to the Royal Commission on Industrial Relations that he always ran “an open shop.” [145] Being an industrious, upstanding worker—to the eyes of the business elite—also meant not challenging their power. Workers were also finding it harder to join the ranks of the business elite. Differing from the tradesmen-turned-manufacturers of the 1870s, Thomas R. Deacon arrived in Winnipeg in 1902, having worked as a consulting engineer for the Mikado Mining Company in Rat Portage, where he made an annual salary of about $47,000. [146] Entrepreneurship, increasingly, was something only for the business and professional classes. In her testimony before the Royal Commission on Industrial Relations, Mrs. R. F. McWilliams, wife of a prominent local barrister, was asked if she thought that “the thrifty worker becomes the capitalist of the future”. She responded, “He does at times; he is not becoming it in this particular instance.” [147] And, as Table 4 shows, people of working-class backgrounds were virtually absent from the elite in the late twenties and late thirties.

Table 4. Status of Winnipeg's Elite at the Beginning of Careers. *


1927 Elite

1936-39 Elite

Employment Status





Employed with a Company
(i.e. white-collar worker)




















Accountants and Actuaries




















Medical Doctor





Engaged in Family Business





Engaged on own Account










Blue-Collar Workers:





Skilled Labourer





Unskilled Labourer










* Figures compiled from the Who's Who in Canada, 1927; Who's Who in Canada 1936-37 and Who's Who in Canada 1938-39.

By the time of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, Winnipeg had already entered a period of relative economic decline from which it would never regain its former position. Ruben Bellan and Allan Levine have both suggested that the seeds of Winnipeg’s relative economic decline lay fundamentally in the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, which had the effect of diverting trade—that once ran through Winnipeg—over to Vancouver. [148] Artibise, on the other, has suggested that Winnipeg’s relative economic decline was brought about by a faceless hoard of branch plant managers who were arriving in the city in increasing numbers through the twenties and thirties. Both lines of interpretation assume that Winnipeg’s economic decline was essentially brought on by factors outside of the city. However, an analysis of how Winnipeg’s business elite reacted to the relative economic decline of their city may help us to reconsider this assumption.

As Thomas R. Deacon sat in front of the Royal Commission on Industrial Relations in 1919, he complained bitterly that the manufactured goods from his local iron works—Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works—could only be sold in a very limited market. Deacon explained, “The furthest east we can go and that is only under very exceptional circumstances is Fort William and the furthest west we can go is to the mountains and sometimes into the Kootnay.” [149] Moreover, central Canadian firms like Dominion Bridge could often outbid Manitoba Bridge for local contracts. Deacon lamented that Winnipeg discriminated against its own manufacturers by “buying anywhere they can buy.” [150] Having to compete with central Canadian firms in his own home market had been quite a problem for Deacon. Even when he was mayor, he could not exert enough political clout to squeeze Dominion Bridge out of Winnipeg: while mayor, in 1914, a controversy broke out over what firm would get to build the Provencher Bridge. City council had given the contract to Manitoba Bridge, but the municipality of St. Boniface—which had committed to paying two-thirds of the cost—protested, and argued in favor of the Dominion Bridge contract. Dominion Bridge had developed a technology that enabled them to build bridges without the overhanging trusses, and St. Boniface favored this nicer-looking design. Allegations of patronage were leveled against council, and Deacon was forced to table a list of Manitoba Bridge’s shareholders and their stock. The provincial government appointed H. A. Robson to arbitrate the dispute; and, in 1916, Dominion Bridge was awarded the contract. [151]

By the late 1920s, Manitoba Bridge shifted its production towards collateral lines of construction material; in this way, the firm could avoid competing against Dominion Bridge’s branch plant in Winnipeg, which only produced bridge and structural steel. Meanwhile, the greatest merger movement in Canadian history, from 1925 to 1930, was in the process of taking place. As the board of directors of Manitoba Bridge celebrated the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1928, the growing concentration and consolidation in the national economy was to soon impact the company’s future. In January 1930, Deacon wrote to the shareholders of the company, recommending a merger between Manitoba Bridge and Dominion Bridge; the deal was accepted and Deacon was appointed to Dominion Bridge’s board of directors in Montreal. [152] With the absorption of Manitoba Bridge, control of the firm came into the hands of the Montreal board of directors. A similar process can be seen with Elisha Hutchings’ Great West Saddlery Company. As early as 1919, the Great West Saddlery Company had begun to produce automobile accessories. [153] In 1928, however, Hutchings put to rest any ideas of expanding his plant, as he appears to have sold off his interests in the firm to the Toronto General Trusts Corporation. Indicative of the new ownership, Toronto capitalist Fred Curry was appointed managing director of the firm the following year. [154] Although the lack of company papers makes the analysis here somewhat speculative, it is significant to note that Great West Saddlery never did make the transition to the manufacture of automobile accessories; as the saddlery business faded, so did the company, which, for all intents and purposes, was gone by the 1960s. [155] This tends to indicate that the new management—Fred Curry—did not set out to build a competitive business, but had other intentions—restricting competition with central Canadian industries, for example. The business interests of Elisha Hutchings had undergone a significant transformation as well. After Hutchings sold Great West Saddlery he continued to play an active role in finance capitalism: when he died in Winnipeg in 1930, he was the president of the Equitable Trust Company and the Canada Loan and Mortgage Corporation.

E. L. Drewry’s old Redwood Brewery underwent a significant transition in this period as well. In 1924, E. L. Drewry sold his interests in the company to local financier George Montegu Black, who reorganized the firm into a joint-stock company—Drewrys Ltd. Black was also looking beyond the horizons of Winnipeg; that year he was in the process of acquiring the Brandon Brewing Company, which he also organized into a joint-stock company. By the late twenties, Black had acquired control over several more western Canadian breweries, the Moose Jaw Brewing Company among them. E. L. Drewry’s son, Charles, maintained an interest in Drewrys Ltd, but his business interests shifted from the family business; Charles Drewry was heavily involved in a number of financial firms, being the president of the Carnegie Finance Company, as well as director of the Financial Corporation Ltd. By the late thirties, Black’s interests had expanded further into more breweries, which, along with Drewrys, he organized under the parent company of Western Breweries Ltd. Black’s son, George Montegu Black Jr., had also become involved in his father’s business interests, becoming comptroller of Western Breweries and its subsidiaries in 1937. The young George Montegu Black left for Ottawa and then to Montreal during World War II, where he served as president of Canadian Propellers Ltd. After the war, George Montegu Black Jr. moved to Toronto, where he was appointed president of the Canadian Breweries Ltd, which, not incidentally, proceeded to acquire control over Drewrys Ltd. [156]

Winnipeg’s business elite actively sought to merge their concerns with large central Canadian firms as a strategy to maintain and perpetuate their own wealth. This, in turn, shifted the control of Winnipeg-based companies to corporate directorates in Toronto and Montreal. This process took place in the financial sector as well. William Alloway’s banking house of Alloway & Champion had grown with Winnipeg through the boom period, but by 1916 Alloway had begun to look to merge his bank with a chartered bank. In 1919 he succeeded, merging his bank with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Although under the control of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, Alloway & Champion continued to maintain offices in Winnipeg. In 1930, however, six months after Alloway’s death, Alloway & Champion’s Winnipeg head office was shut down and moved to Toronto, while its branch offices in the city were amalgamated with those of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. [157] The Union Bank followed a similar pattern. After having succeeded in bringing the headquarters of the Union Bank to Winnipeg in 1912, Winnipeg’s business elite proceeded to play a dominant role in managing the bank’s affairs. John Galt and William Rae Allan both served terms as president, while others—including R. T. Riley, E. L. Drewry, and Manlius Bull—sat on the board of directors. By the 1920s, however, the bank’s future in Winnipeg had become tenuous. With the growing consolidation of Canada’s banking business through the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it became harder and harder for smaller banks to survive on their own. [158] In 1924, questions arose as to the Union Bank’s solvency, and at a shareholders meeting the following year, the bank’s president, William Rae Allan, argued in favor of an amalgamation with the Royal Bank of Canada—the shareholders approved the proposal unanimously. [159] The legacy of the Union Bank merger persists for Winnipeggers today; the bank’s once well-kept, bustling headquarters beside City Hall now stands as a dilapidated, empty building.

From the 1920s onwards, numerous prominent Winnipeg businessmen left the city, and sought out greener pastures. Augustus Nanton left Winnipeg for Toronto in 1924 to take over for the deceased president of the Dominion Bank, E. B. Osler. In 1912, Nanton’s daughter, Mary Georgina Nanton, married Douglas Lorn Cameron, son of D. C. Cameron. By the late 1920s, this couple had left Winnipeg as well; Douglas Lorn Cameron moved to Vancouver, bringing with him the head offices of the Rat Portage Lumber Company. [160] Hugh F. Osler, E. B. Osler’s son, meanwhile, stayed in Winnipeg to manage the affairs of Osler, Hammond and Nanton; but the same was not true of his son Gordon P. Osler. Having married Conrad Stephenson Riley’s daughter in 1948, Gordon P. Osler became the president of Osler, Hammond and Nanton Ltd, and in the mid-1960s he moved to Toronto, taking his wealth with him. [161]

The examples of Osler, Nanton, along with others, including the Blacks, reflect the concentration of capital in central Canada. Moreover, the dense familial, social and business relations that interlinked these families, as well as other families that originated from central Canadian wealth, suggests that this group should be seen as a distinct enclave in Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie. Differing from those industrial capitalists who had risen from modest means in the 1870s, the scions of the central Canadian bourgeoisie came to Winnipeg with established social networks, and, as Table 3 would suggest, they appear to have reproduced themselves as a distinct enclave, with strong ties to central Canadian capital.

In 1925, the president of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, Travers Sweatman, found the transition within the city’s elite to be a reason for concern:

Winnipeg lacks leadership. It is in that state of its development when those old stalwarts who took part in its greatest development which culminated in 1912, have either retired to a well-earned rest or settled in some other part of the world.... During the last ten years it has been impossible for the younger men to come forward and take their places; thus Winnipeg has been passing through a critical period in her history when she very much lacked the leadership, and in this connection I would like to say that one of the difficulties of the Winnipeg Board of Trade has been to obtain the support of the younger businessmen of the city, the bulk of whom are to be found in the various Service Clubs. [162]

Sweatman’s concern about the lack of leadership in the business community was, indeed, a valid one, for the centralizing impulse of capitalism was causing many prominent Winnipeg businessmen to leave the city in search of greener pastures. Moreover, many of those who remained in Winnipeg in the twenties and thirties did not maintain the boosterism of their predecessors. When Winnipeg was a growing city around the turn of the century, Nicholas Bawlf played an active role in boosting local business; he helped fund the construction of the first grain exchange building in 1892, as well as being a member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade and serving on city council. [163] By contrast, Nicholas Bawlf’s son, William Bawlf, had a distinctly national and international orientation. In the twenties and thirties William Bawlf controlled the assets that his father had handed down to him, but quite unlike his father, he appears not even to have been a member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, while, at the same time, he held seats in the Chicago Board of Trade and the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. [164] The concentration of wealth and the growing size of businesses predisposed the elite to acquire national and international outlooks. And, as a testament to this concentration of wealth, in 1941, the firm that William Bawlf had inherited from his father, the N. Bawlf Grain Company, was absorbed by the Alberta Grain Co, which in turn was controlled by the colossus Federal Grain Ltd. [165]

That said, it is important to acknowledge that segments of the business class did decline with the city. Winnipeg wholesalers, for example, were declining notably in power and affluence. Local wholesalers could not compete with large department stores like Eatons who sold directly to the public from manufacturers. [166] Wholesaling firms such as R. J. Whitla & Co—which had flourished around the turn of the century—went out of business in the thirties. The dominance of the large department store is reflected in the comments of Alex Burness, a salesman who was looking for work in 1929. Burness lamented,

My trade is the Dry Goods, mens [sic] wear etc. which I have followed for the past 15 years: mostly in Western towns. I like or seem to like the Country life best, and because, (you might say) of their [sic] being only Eatons or the Bay left, my efforts have never been very serious to make myself a fixture in either. I don’t seem to fit into the life of a Big Dept Store and at present I am a fair way to an engagement West again. [167]

The decline of Winnipeg’s position in the wholesaling trade, however, should not be equated with the inevitable downfall of those families who were engaged in that line of business. For example, in the thirties, the son of Winnipeg wholesaler Jose Alexander Banfield, William Bickle Banfield, was able to adapt to the changing landscape of Winnipeg business by becoming the branch manager of the North American Life Assurance Company. [168]

The fundamental dynamics that obtained between Winnipeg and its early business elite need to be re-conceptualized. The standard interpretation has assumed that Winnipeg’s early elite had accumulated its capital in the West generally, and in Winnipeg specifically, and had thus acquired interests that were different than central Canadian capitalists. But, as this article has argued, Winnipeg’s elite was already tied through familial and business relationships to central Canadian capital—in a very real sense, Winnipeg’s elite simply represented an extension of the central Canadian elite. That said, we should be sceptical of how Alan Artibise applied the concept of boosterism to the elite in Winnipeg. Artibise assumed that central Canadian and American companies brought on Winnipeg’s economic marginalization; had only the western Canadian business elite recognized their collective, marginal position within the Canadian economy, Artibise argued, they might have been able to form a united front against central Canadian business. As it applies to Winnipeg, this analysis seems to ask the impossible, since Winnipeg’s elite was already highly integrated with central Canadian capital. Analytically, Artibise relied too much upon regional differentiation, failing to take into account the extent to which Winnipeg’s elite was integrated into a national business class. In addition, mergers with central Canadian firms were used by Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie as a strategy to safeguard wealth. Rather than compete with central Canadian and foreign companies, men like E. L. Drewry, Elisha Hutchings, and Thomas R. Deacon sold off their fixed investments in Winnipeg—the firms of all three men eventually came under the control of central Canadian interests.

To some extent, the development of Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie from the 1870s to the 1930s is the story of a business class that, increasingly, was becoming economically detached from the city in which they lived. Whereas E. L. Drewry was the proprietor of a local brewery, constituting a substantial fixed investment in the community, his son Charles Drewry was more interested in financial companies, a much more transient investment that does not foster what Alan Artibise has called boosterism. The elite was also becoming socially and culturally detached from the city; although, in this respect they had always been somewhat detached from the city, because, to a large extent, Winnipeg’s bourgeoisie did not emerge in Winnipeg, but rather, was transplanted there. The residential pattern of the elite exemplified the elite’s conscious sense of distinction from the rest of society, and this consciousness simply heightened as lines of class became increasingly accentuated. The elite’s shared leisure activities, and social and cultural clubs further solidified this sense of distinction, as well as the elite’s growing cohesiveness. This cohesiveness spilt into the political realm as well. In municipal politics, the elite was dominant, and went about creating a conducive atmosphere for free enterprise, while, at the same time, neglecting basic public health issues and refusing to recognize labour unions. Indeed, Winnipeg’s elite maintained a very paternalistic attitude towards the lower classes, which was evidenced in their involvement in philanthropy. Through involvement in philanthropy the bourgeoisie sought to mould reliable, submissive citizens and workers, who would not challenge their vast amounts of political power.

In sum, Winnipeg’s business elite constituted a cohesive urban establishment, whose business and familial connections spanned to central Canadian and even British elites. Based upon the findings of this article, the notion that Winnipeg’s elite accumulated their capital in the city and deeply identified with its interests needs to be questioned. Despite the strident pronouncements about the modest origins of Winnipeg’s elite, in reality much of the elite came to the city affluent, where they lived distinctly patrician lifestyles, tucked away in the city’s South End. The way in which the elite viewed themselves and the realities surrounding them was, above all else, a function of their class. Lines of class superseded regional differences.

Inter-marriage within the business elite: The wedding of Douglas Lorn Cameron and Mary Georgina Nanton, 5 September 1912. Front row (L-R): Sir D. C. Cameron, Harry Small, John Chaffie, Paul Nanton, Gus Nanton, ?, Sheila Kirby, ?, Herbert Clark, Edward Nanton, Mrs. Clark, Dave Clark. Second row: ?, Dorothy Clark, Lady Cameron, Aunt Rose, A. M. Nanton, Ellie Nanton, Aunt Kate Hespeler. Third row: ?, Wm. Hespeler, Lorne & Georgina Cameron. Back row: ?, ?, Constance Nanton, George, Marguerite Nanton.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.


1. J. M. S. Careless, “The Development of the Winnipeg Business Community, 1870-1890,” Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, series IV, no. 8 (1970), 254.

2. See Alan F. J. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914 (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1975); Artibise, “An Urban Economy: Patterns of Economic Change in Winnipeg, 1873-1971,” Prairie Forum 47 (1973), 189-217; Artibise, “Continuity and Change: Elites and Prairie Urban Development, 1914-1950,” in The Usable Urban Past: Planning and Politics in the Modern Canadian City, eds. Alan Artibise and Gilbert A. Stelter (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada), 130-154; and Artibise, “Boosterism and the Development of Prairie Cities, 1873-1913,” Town and City: Aspects of Western Development, ed. Alan Artibise (Regina: University of Regina Press, 1981), 209-235.

3. See David Bercuson, Confrontation at Winnipeg: Labour, Industrial Relations and the General Strike, rev. ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), 51-2.

4. J. M. Bumsted, The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919: An Illustrated History (Winnipeg: Watson Dwyer, 1994), 6-8.

5. See Robert A. J. McDonald, “‘Vancouver’s Four Hundred’: The Quest for Wealth and Status in Canada’s Urban West, 1886-1914,” Journal of Canadian Studies 25, no. 3 (1990), 55-73; McDonald, Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1996), 149-174.

6. Throughout this paper the term bourgeoisie, business class, business elite, economic elite, or elite will be used synonymously to refer to the group under examination: these men were Winnipeg’s wealthy financiers, merchants, industrialists and grain dealers.

7. “Between 1900 and 1930 there were over 500 mergers in Canada, absorbing almost 1200 firms.” See Graham D. Taylor and Peter A. Baskerville, A Concise History of Business in Canada (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1994), 311.

8. Donald Kerr, “The Wholesale Trade on the Canadian Plains in the Nineteenth Century: Winnipeg and its Competition,” in The Settlement of the West, ed. Howard Penner (Publishers: University of Calgary and Comprint Publishing Company, 1977), 130-31 and 133. Alexander Begg came to the Red River Settlement representing W. E. Sanford’s Hamilton-based ready-made-cloth manufacturing firm. Sanford is credited as being “the first Canadian clothing manufacturer to capture the Red River trade,” and, in later years, Sanford became heavily interested in western real estate and land development. See Peter Hanlon, “William Eli Sanford,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, ed. Frances G. Halpenny (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 939.

9. J. E. Steen and W. Boyce, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Her Industries (Winnipeg: Steen & Boyce, 1882), 10-11 and 49; W. T. Thompson and E. E. Boyer, The City of Winnipeg—The Capital of Manitoba and the Commercial Railway and Financial Metropolis of the Northwest: Past Present and Future Prospects (Winnipeg: Thompson & Boyer, 1886) in Gateway City: Documents on the City of Winnipeg 1873-1914, ed. Alan Artibise (Winnipeg: The Manitoba Record Society, 1979), 50.

10. Steen and Boyce, 11.

11. Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1987), 162.

12. Peter Lowe, “All Western Dollars,” Manitoba Historical Society Transactions, series III, no. 2 (1946), 12.

13. Legislative Library (hereafter LL), Manitoba History Scrapbook 5, 57: 26 June 1911.

14. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 130.

15. Alloway acquired this piece of land through a transaction with James Mulligan, who lived on Armstrong’s Point. Mulligan commissioned Alloway to acquire for him a team of horses and a carriage. Alloway did this on one of his many trips to central Canada, spending $1,400, and for this, Mulligan gave Alloway a strip of Armstrong’s Point land that extended north to Portage Avenue. Alloway later sold this land for $30,000. See Lowe, 13.

16. Lowe, 15 and 17.

17. Alexander Begg and Walter R. Nursey, Ten Years in Winnipeg (Winnipeg: Times Publishing House, 1879), 83.

18. Steen and Boyce, 49.

19. Thompson and Boyer, 52 and 56.

20. Provincial Archives of Manitoba (hereafter PAM), Alexander Brown Papers, MG8 B92, Box 1, File 1, Margaret Brown to Alexander Brown, 24 April 1872.

21. Ibid, Alexander Brown to Margaret Brown, 18 July 1872.

22. Ibid, Alexander Brown to Margaret Brown, 26 August 1872.

23. Ibid, Alexander Brown to Margaret Brown, 21 July 1872.

24. Ibid, File 7, Alexander Galt to Margaret Brown, 24 September 1873.

25. Steen and Boyce, 47.

26. Ibid, PAM, Alexander Brown Papers, Crawford, “The Brown Connection.”

27. F. H. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II (Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1913), 28.

28. Steen and Boyce, 57-8.

29. LL, Biography Scrapbook 8, 220, Winnipeg Tribune, 14 April 1930.

30. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 124.

31. Steen and Boyce, 46.

32. The biographical dictionaries used were primarily the Who’s Who in Western Canada, 1911 (Vancouver: Canadian Press Association Ltd, 1911) and William Cochrane, ed., The Canadian Album, vol. III (Brantford: Bradley, Garretson & Co, 1894). To a lesser extent F. H. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vols. II and III (Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913) and George MacLean Rose, ed., A Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography; Being Chiefly Men of the Time (Toronto: Rose Publishing Company, 1888) were also used, as well as other sources.

33. Lowe, 10-11.

34. Cochrane, 234; J. H. Brock—who arrived in Winnipeg in 1879, becoming a partner in George F. Carruthers’ insurance agency, and who would spearhead the formation of The Great-West Life Assurance Company in 1891—also attended the High School of Montreal, and it is not unlikely that Alloway and Brock attended together, as they were only separated in age by two years. See Richard E. Bennett, “Jeffry Hall Brock,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1911-1920, vol. 14 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1998), 146-47.

35. Steen and Boyce, 50.

36. Kerr, 136.

37. Ruben C. Bellan, Winnipeg First Century: An Economic History (Winnipeg: Queenston Publishing Co, 1978), 29. A significant portion of the over 16,000 people who resided in Winnipeg in 1882, no doubt, constituted a floating population, as the federal census of that year set Winnipeg’s population at 7,985. See Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 130.

38. In 1883, 101 Winnipeg businesses went bankrupt, with cumulative liabilities of $1,750,000. See Bellan, 35.

39. Other investors in the company included the Winnipeg notables, Daniel H. McMillan and J. A. M. Aikins. See Memoirs: R. T. Riley, n.d., 62.

40. Memoirs: R. T. Riley, 67-69; Hanlon, 941.

41. A. A. den Otter, Civilizing the West: The Galts and the Development of Western Canada (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1982), 83.

42. Cochrane, 321.

43. Kerr, 140.

44. Bercuson, 191.

45. R. G. MacBeth, Sir Augustus Nanton: A Biography (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1931), 12-13.

46. The early stage of a work career appears to have been viewed by the bourgeoisie as a time of “character building.” As a result, in some cases young, bourgeois men would do work that did not reflect their bourgeois status. R. T. Riley, for example, got his son Sanford to work as an apprentice machinist in the Northern Pacific Railway shops, where he received 5 cents per hour. See C. S. Riley, n.d., 10.

47. Bellan, 56.

48. LL, Sheila C. Grover, “113 Market Avenue: The Great West Saddlery Building,” (Winnipeg: Historical Buildings Committee, 1985), 1; B. M. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1929 (Toronto: International Press Ltd, 1929), 1522; Paul Voisey, “In Search of Wealth and Status: An Economic and Social Study of Entrepreneurs in Early Calgary,” in Frontier Calgary: Town, City and Region, 1875-1914, eds. Anthony W. Rasporich and Henry Klassen (Calgary: University of Calgary, 1975), 225.

49. Bellan, 55.

50. Allan Levine, “Nicholas Bawlf,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1911-1920, vol. 14, (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1998), 39.

51. See Allan Levine, The Exchange: 100 Years of Trading Grain in Winnipeg (Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers Ltd, 1987), 36-38.

52. PAM, Winnipeg Board of Trade Papers, MG 10 A2, Box 1, Winnipeg Board of Trade, 10th Annual Report, 1889, 13.

53. Bennett, 147.

54. PAM, Winnipeg Board of Trade Papers, Fifteenth Annual Report of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, 1894, 9.

55. Ibid, Twenty-First Annual Report of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, 1900, 15.

56. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 132.

57. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 124.

58. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. III, 706.

59. See Table 1.

60. Bellan, 73-74.

61. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 722.

62. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 9, Free Press, 10 April 1933.

63. R. T. Riley: Memoirs, 86-87.

64. See J. M. Bumsted, Dictionary of Manitoba Biography (Winnipeg: the University of Manitoba, 1999), 185 and PAM, Augustus Nanton Papers.

65. MacBeth, 74.

66. Michael Bliss, A Canadian Millionaire: The Life and Business Times of Sir Joseph Flavelle, Bart., 1858-1939 (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1978), 219.

67. Alloway & Champion’s considerable involvement in this line of business is illustrated by the following account, given by Peter Lowe, a former teller and executive of Alloway & Champion: “By the year 1904 the volume of foreign business done by Alloway & Champion reached such proportions that a decision was made to erect a branch office near the Canadian Pacific Railway depot, largely for the purpose of giving banking service to foreign immigrants and residents. The branch was opened at 667 Main Street in 1905, and was successful from the beginning. My career with Alloway & Champion began in this branch in October, 1906, and the staff then consisted of five linguists a stenographer who was called on to operate not only an ordinary typewriter, but a Russian language typewriter as well. The remaining staff was made up of an English manager, myself as teller, and an office boy, all of whom acquired sufficient knowledge of the language spoken by those of Slavic descent, to do the business of his department or to direct the customer to the linguist in charge of serving his particular need.” See Lowe, 22.

68. Lowe, 20-23. When Alloway & Champion was incorporated, William Alloway became president, H. T. Champion became vice president, and Charles Alloway became a director. As well, five others were added to the board of directors. These people were: Colin H. Campbell, George F. Galt, F. W. Heubach, Daniel McMillan, and D. E. Sprague.

69. R. T Riley: Memoirs, 85.

70. As a result of the merger, all but two of the sawmills in Rat Portage were closed. See Deborah Anne Welch, “T. A. Burrows, 1857-1929: Case Study of a Manitoba Businessman and Politician,” (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Manitoba, 1983), 109.

71. LL, Biographical Vertical File, “Douglas Colin Cameron,” The Canadian Press, 19 June 1917.

72 B. M. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1927 (Toronto: The Mussan Book Company Ltd, 1927), 244.

73. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 30.

74. Manitoba Free Press, 1 January 1914, 9.

75. Bercuson, 22-26.

76. Royal Commission on Industrial Relations, Evidence, Winnipeg, 12 May 1919, 1527.

77. See Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 37-42.

78. Cochrane, 380.

79. See Bellan, 14-24.

80. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 43.

81. PAM, Winnipeg Board of Trade Papers, 33rd Annual Report of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, 1912, 25-26; See Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 233-245.

82. PAM, Thomas Russ Deacon Papers, MG 14 B1, File: “Speeches, Letters to editors, articles, etc.”, Winnipeg Saturday Post, 7 December 1913, 1.

83. Ibid, T. R. Deacon, “Address on the Development of Winnipeg,” 9 October 1913, 5.

84. A pamphlet published by the Winnipeg Board of Trade in 1919, listed the following benefits that would be attained when the waterworks were completed (the new water flowed into Winnipeg that year): “WITH THE ADVENT OF SHOAL LAKE WATER : Less soap will be required and washing powders for softening purposes unnecessary. CISTERNS WILL BE DISPENSED WITH representing a saving to citizens of $58,000 CHEMICAL SOFTENING PLANTS WILL BE DISPENSED WITH and a saving of $1,161,000 will be made annually. Corrosion in old pipes will be removed and new pipes will kept clean. This will save $27,600 Winnipeg citizens $115,000 yearly. $27,600 will be saved on the maintenance of hot water heaters. The life of boilers will be five times as long, and the saving in this respect will be $31,000 annually. $500,000 annually will be saved in the reduction of present loss caused by scale in pipes … Thousands of dollars will be saved in fire salvage … NEW INDUSTRIES MADE POSSIBLE …” Quoted in Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 221-222.

85. PAM, William Sanford Evans Papers, MG 14 B 28, Box 5, File 30 a, Sanford Evans to Irene Evans, 24 June 1908.

86. Ibid, File 30 b, Sanford Evans to Irene Evans, 15 July 1908. The fact that the Free Press supported Sanford Evans’ bid for the mayoralty further attests to the political cohesiveness of the elite in the realm of municipal politics. The editor-in-chief of the Free Press, J. W. Dafoe, despite the fact that he was a staunch Liberal, still supported Evans, who was a Conservative. Class, then, seems to have superceded partisan politics in municipal government.

87. Manitoba Free Press, 22 December 1897, quoted in Grover, 3.

88. Winnipeg Telegram, 19 January 1910, 10.

89. Augustus Nanton and R. T. Riley are other examples of businessmen who managed the realty investments of capitalists outside of the region.

90. PAM, William Sanford Evans Papers, Box 5, File 21, H. L. Archer to Sanford Evans, 8 July 1909; Ibid, R. J. Shrimpton to Sanford Evans, 28 February 1910.

91. Stobart is listed as a director of the Trust & Loan Company of Canada, residing in Bedford, England in the May 14, 1918 Winnipeg Telegram. Also the papers of the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg indicate that Stobart had moved to England prior to 1906; a document from that year indicates that Mrs. Stobart, one of the club’s founders, was living in England. See PAM, Women’s Muscial Club Papers, MG 10 C7, Box 7, “Scrapbook 5, 1899-1959.”

92. LL, Manitoba History Scrapbook 5, 57, 26 June 1911.

93. Ibid; Lowe, 14.

94. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 8, 70, 19 March 1926.

95. Stobart shot and injured a man on the other side of the river—the man had apparently been swimming in the river. Stobart settled the matter outside of court, paying $700 to the man. See C. S. Riley, 8.

96. See Table 2.

97. Henderson’s Directory, 1890, 882.

98. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 167; The developer of Crescentwood, Charles H. Enderton, applied the following restrictions to any land purchased in Crescentwood: “1. That no dwelling erected upon the lot in question cost less than $3,500, and each house be set back 60 feet from the front street line. In the case of corner lots, the dwelling was not to be closer than 30 feet from the side line. 2. On Wellington Crescent, dwellings were to have a completed value of no less than $6,000, and will be set back 60 feet from the street. 3. On side streets, dwellings were to have a completed value of no less than $4,000, and be set back 60 feet from the street. 4. That there are not be more than one dwelling per lot(s) as sold. 5. That no building, other than those for residential purposes, be erected upon the lot(s).” See Land Titles Office, Caveat, 11677, filed 23 October 1902 quoted in Randy Rostecki, Crescentwood: A History (Winnipeg: The Crescent-wood Homeowners Association, 1993), 24.

99. John Marlyn, Under the Ribs of Death (Toronto: McClelland of Canada, [1957] 1990), 68-69.

100. PAM, Augustus Nanton Papers, MG 14, C 85: “Kilmorie, Roslyn Road, 1900-1935,” September 1972.

101. Charles Bell did not live on the south side of the Red River, which was increasingly becoming the residential area of choice for the bourgeoisie, but rather, he still lived to the north of the river on Carlton Street, near the corner of Broadway. While some may disagree as to whether or not this area constituted part of the South End geographically, in terms of class-experience in turn of the century Winnipeg, the area was without question a part of the South End.

102. LL, “Charles Napier Bell,” Vertical File, Winnipeg Free Press, 6 March 1971.

103. PAM, Augustus Nanton Papers, MG 14, C 85: “Kilmorie Roslyn Road, 1900-1935,” September 1972; MacBeth, 63.

104. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 8, 132, 23 February 1928.

105. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 437.

106. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 8, 70, 19 March 1926.

107. Town Topics, 10 September 1910, 10.

108. See Arthur L. Tunnell, ed., The Winnipeg Society Blue Book and Club Membership Register, 1926-27, 68-71.

109. C. S. Riley, 41, 44-45, and passim.

110. W. L. Morton, Manitoba, A History (Toronto, 1955), 173 quoted in Careless, 243.

111. PAM, Manitoba Club Papers, MG 10, C 25, The Act, By-laws and List of Members of the Manitoba Club, April 1884, 7.

112. The papers of Sanford Evans give evidence of the club’s role in bourgeois life. Evans used the club on a regular basis, and it served various purposes. On one occasion he stopped off at the club with his brother Harry Evans—who was a notable Edmonton businessman—to shoot billiards; then, on another occasion he met with Edison Chamberlain, vice-president and general manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, to talk business. See PAM, William Sanford Evans Papers, Box 5, File 30 b, Sanford Evans to Irene Evans, 19 July 1908 and File 32, Sanford Evans to Irene Evans, 14 January 1910. Also as an illustration of the club’s importance, Allan Levine has traced the establishment of the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange in 1887 to a conversation—between Nicholas Bawlf, Charles Bell, and Rodmond Roblin—that took place at the Manitoba Club. See Allan Levine, The Exchange, 36-38. For a general description of the Manitoba Club, though an uncritical description at that, see Mary Lile Benham, The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974 (Winnipeg: The Manitoba Club, 1974).

113. Wade A. Henry, “W. Sanford Evans and the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, 1904-1919,” Manitoba History 27 (Spring 1994), 3.

114. Ibid, 4.

115. Augustus Nanton’s speech to the Winnipeg Board of Trade in 1924 reflected the bourgeoisie’s views on immigrant labourers. Nanton spoke of the need to foster the development of loyal British subjects, while pointing to the need to suppress the “teachings” of people from foreign lands going on behind “closed doors”: “My feeling is that it [Winnipeg] will continue to grow … provided the citizens work together, forget all petty differences and see that the boys and girls of today are brought up loyal citizens and loyal British subjects. In my opinion the greatest peril which confronts Canada and especially this city is the teachings we hear behind closed doors. This should be done away with. We welcome all good citizens from foreign lands but if they do not believe in a Christian religion, nor intend to keep our laws they should be asked to return from whence they came.” See PAM, Augustus Nanton Papers, “Speech to the Winnipeg Board Trade,” 16 December 1924.

116. Henry, 3.

117. Ibid, 5; C.S. Riley, 27.

118. LL, Vertical File, Charles Napier Bell, “Young Bugler Boy Grows up with Winnipeg,” n.d.

119. This house was built in 1900. see Ibid, Free Press, 6 March 1971.

120. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 67.

121. There is a collection of papers at the Archives of Manitoba from the Women’s Social Science Study Club of Winnipeg (MG 10 C 50).

122. PAM, Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg Papers, MG 10 C 7, Box 2, File 14, Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg, 16th Annual Report, 1914-15, 7.

123. Town Topics, 9 December 1899, 5.

124. PAM, Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg Papers, Box 2, File 1, “By-laws of the ‘Women’s Musical Club.’”

125. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 18.

126. Schofield, The Story of Manitoba, vol. II, 68.

127. PAM, William Sanford Evans Papers, Box 5, File 37 a, Irene Evans to Sanford Evans, 18 April 1915.

128. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 6, 124, Free Press, 13 November 1915. George Galt’s first wife passed away, and he was remarried to Muriel Munsell, daughter of Brigadier General G. Slepford Munsell, in 1917. See LL, Biographical Scrapbook 6, 228, Winnipeg Telegram, 17 January 1917.

129. PAM, William Sanford Evans Papers, Box 5, File 37 a, Irene Evans to Sanford Evans, 18 April 1915.

130. Alieen Kraushar et al., Springfield: 1st Municipality of Manitoba, 1873-1973 (Dugald: Dugald Women’s Institute, 1974), 265.

131. Town Topics, 4 March 1899, 1.

132. PAM, Edith Rogers Papers, Box p.185, File 9, Ned Boyle to Edith Rogers, ? August 1920.

133. Douglas Durkin, The Magpie (Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., 1923), 97-98.

134. Town Topics, 2 July 1898, 2.

135. PAM, Augustus Nanton Papers, The Nanton, 29 January 1942.

136. B. M. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1928-29 (Toronto: International Press, Ltd., 1929), 1052.

137. LL, Biographical Scrapbook 8, 103, 12 May 1927.

138. Ibid, 214, Free Press, 3 February 1928.

139. See, Mariana Valverde, The Age of Light, Soap, and Water: Moral Reform in English Canada, 1885-1925 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993).

140. PAM, Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg Papers, Box 2, File 9, W. B. U. Sterling to the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg, 6 April 1914.

141. Manitoba Free Press, 25 March 1914, 13.

142. PAM, Winnipeg Board of Trade Papers, 32nd Annual Report of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, 32.

143. Ibid, 36th Annual Report of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, 48.

144. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, 188-89.

145. Royal Commission on Industrial Relations, Evidence, Winnipeg, 12 May 1919, 1528.

146. Ibid, 1504.

147. Ibid, 1576.

148. Bellan, 151-52; Levine, The Exchange, 105.

149. Royal Commission on Industrial Relations, 1505.

150. Ibid, 1538.

151. PAM, Thomas R. Deacon Papers, MG14 B1, Winnipeg Tribune, 10 November 1971.

152. Monetary Times, 17 January 1930, 5; Tom Travers, “Security Without Regulation,” in The Consolidation of Capitalism, 1896-1929, eds. Michael S. Cross and Gregory S. Kealey (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 1983), 28; Monetary Times, 24 February 1928, 38; Industrial Canada, January 1930, 210.

153. Grover, 4.

154. Monetary Times, 11 January 1929, 76; Monetary Times, 2 March 1928, 23; Industrial Canada, December 1929, 121; LL, Biographical Scrapbook 8, 220, Winnipeg Tribune, 14 April 1930.

155. Grover, 4.

156. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1927, 169; Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1938-39 (Toronto: International Press Ltd, 1939), 1011; Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1953-54 (Toronto: International Press Ltd, 1954), 147-148 and 701-702; LL, Biographical Scrapbook 10, 43, Winnipeg Tribune, 4 December 1948 and 145, Winnipeg Tribune, 31 May 1950; Winnipeg Tribune, 6 July 1959; Winnipeg Free Press, 6 July 1959; Monetary Times, 30 May 1924, 26; Peter C. Newman, The Establishment Man: A Portrait of Power (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1982), 20-23; Bellan, 253. Canadian Breweries Ltd gained control over the Drewrys through what appears to have been its subsidiary, The Carling Brewing Company—George Montegu Black Jr. was vice-president of the company.

157. Lowe, 23-24.

158. Graham D. Taylor and Peter A. Baskerville described the consolidation of the banking business: “Between 1890 and 1920 the number of chartered banks shrank from 41 to 18, while the survivors extended a network of more than 4600 branches across the Canada. Smaller proprietary banks serving local communities steadily gave way to the national joint-stock enterprises that could more readily ride the fluctuations in the business cycle.” See Graham and Baskerville, 250.

159. Monetary Times, 24 July 1925; Castell Hopkins, Canadian Annual Financial Review of Public Affairs, 1925-1926 (Toronto: The Canadian Review Company Ltd, 1926), 315-16; Manitoba Free Press, 24 July 1925, 10.

160. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1928-1929 (Toronto: International Press Ltd, 1929), 10.

161. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1962-63 (Toronto: International Press, Ltd, 1962), 329-330; Hugh Fraser, Herbert E. Barnett and Edward White, Who’s Who in Canada, 1966-68 (Toronto: International Press Ltd, 1964), 131.

162. PAM, Winnipeg Board of Trade Papers, Greater Winnipeg Board of Trade, 1924-25: Annual Address of the President, 8-9.

163. Levine, The Exchange, 40.

164. Who’s Who in Canada, 1927, 469; Who’s Who in Canada, 1938-1939, 1369.

165. Levine, The Exchange, 148. For a list of the mergers that took place in the grain trade see Charles W. Anderson, Grain: The Entrepreneurs (Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer Publishing Co, 1991), 186-189.

166. Artibise, Winnipeg: An Illustrated History (Toronto: James Lorimer & Co, 1977), 122.

167. PAM, Edith Rogers Papers, Alex Burness to Edith Rogers, 27 November 1929.

168. Greene, ed., Who’s Who in Canada, 1938-39, 1366.

Page revised: 21 July 2011