Memorable Manitobans: William Ashburner “Caribou Bill” Anger (1886-1968)
Born at London, England on 24 March 1886, he came to Manitoba in 1912 where he was the Circulation Manager of the Winnipeg Tribune until 1916, when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. He never made it to France but transferred into one of the many companies of the Canadian Forestry Corps in England.
In 1928, he moved to The Pas with Peter Galbraith to become the founding advertising manager of The Pas Northern Mail, the first daily newspaper in northern Manitoba. He was so enthusiastic about the north that he toured four western provinces in a “log cabin on wheels” and lectured to an estimated half a million people. He returned to Winnipeg in 1931 then went to Vancouver where he and partner Dirk Hersey bicycled across Canada, on a syndicated trip, stopping off at all the newspapers from Vancouver Sun to Halifax Chronicle.
In 1943, he golfed four miles from Channing to Flin Flon and then, in 1944, golfed three miles from the top of the diving board at Phantom Lake beach to Flin Flon. In August 1951, he and James Pearkes, of Flin Flon, took part in a 42-mile marathon golf match on the highway from Cranberry Portage to Flin Flon to raise funds for the Girl Guides and crippled children. The feat, said to have been accomplished in 152 strokes, took him two days to accomplish. Thousands of people watched him hole out.
During summer months, he operated a one-man museum out of his picturesque cabin at Cranberry Portage, funding his tourist promotions by selling hundreds of postcards that featured a photo of himself with a husky dog or polar bear. He displayed a Colt 45 revolver said to have been used by Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, and President Teddy Roosevelt. Others items on display included a 7½-feet-long narwhal tooth, the antlers of two jumpers locked in death, a 300-year-old copper tea pot dug up at Big Eddy, and roughly 5000 pictures of his adventures.
He would move to The Pas during winters, where he would sometimes work for the Northern Mail and could always be counted on to volunteer for jobs with the Trapper’s Festival. In 1960, in recognition of his meritorious service to Manitoba, he was awarded the Golden Boy Award.
On 22 May 1960, his cabin was destroyed by a runaway vehicle, nearly missing him inside. He was taken to the Royal Canadian Air Force radar station at Cranberry Portage and was treated for cuts, bruises, and shock. The damage to his museum was more permanent. He moved to Prospector in 1965, set up a trailer and continued to operate an information booth until his death on 26 November 1968. He left no family and his remains lay in the morgue for two days until local citizenry petitioned government officials in Winnipeg to make funeral arrangements. He was buried in the veterans plot of The Pas Lakeside Cemetery.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
“Nucleus of city among recruits in latest lists,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 March 1916, page 12.
“Airways name agent at Cranberry Portage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 July 1949, page 4.
“Car hits famed cabin,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 May 1960, page 3.
““Caribou Bill” laid to rest,” The Pas Herald, 4 December 1968, page 1.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
Page revised: 4 December 2022