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Memorable Manitobans: Edmund Lorenzo Barber (1849-1909)

Click to enlargeBusinessman.

Born at Hamden, Connecticut, USA in 1834, the son of Guy Barber. He received little in the way of formal education and at the age of fourteen he left home on a year’s voyage around Cape Horn to California. By 1854 he had moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where he found employment with the Minnesota Democrat newspaper. In 1856 Barber’s cousin, George Brott, came west and together they formed the Breckenridge Land Company. In 1859 Brott purchased the dry goods firm of W. G. Fonseca and S. Fullerton of St. Paul and in February 1860, he appointed Barber as his agent to open a retail store in the Red River Settlement.

In 1868 Barber extended his business, becoming an agent for furs, hides, and firewood and part owner with J. F. Robinson in the Crescent Farm. In 1869 he joined J. C. Schultz in a real estate venture in the Point Douglas area. His business prospered with the arrival of the Wolseley Expedition as he received part of the Mounted Constabulary account. His business soon declined, however, and to pay his creditors he entered into a brief partnership with John MacGregor in 1871. In 1872, he opened a store in Portage la Prairie which was operated by Martin Burnell, which proved to be a failure, as were his plans to operate a saloon at Pembina, North Dakota to capitalize on the thirst of the Boundary Commission surveyors.

On 23 September 1873, Barber purchased The Nor’Westerfrom J. C. Schultz for $2,400. The newspaper did not do as well financially as expected and Barber’s sister-in-law Margaret Logan, arranged a chattel mortgage with Schultz, so the paper could continue publication. In May 1877, Mr. and Mrs. Barber and Richard Paul signed articles of agreement and entered into co-partnership in the operation of the Winnipeg Ice Company. In 1880, Barber joined E. G. Conklin in the operation of the Manitoba Soap Candle and Oil Works Company, which proved to be a short-lived venture. The following year, Barber again entered the real estate business and continued in this field until his death. After 1890, he supplemented his income by being appointed an “issuer of marriages of licenses.” At the time of his death, 24 April 1909 in Winnipeg, his daughter Lillie was active in managing his interests and continued to do so for several years.

Barber’s home at 99 Euclid Avenue in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg still stands, and is one of the few remaining examples of early Red River Settlement architecture.

He is commemorated by Barber Street in Winnipeg.

His extensive business and personal papers, including textual records, photographs, and paintings, are held at the Archives of Manitoba (MG14 C66) from which the above biographical sketch was obtained.

More information:

The Old Settlers of Red River by George Bryce
MHS Transactions, Series 1, No. 19, 1885

Early Red River Homes by Lillian Gibbons
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1945-46 Season

Early Houses in Winnipeg by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, January 1957

Winnipeg in 1869
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 3, Number 2, January 1958

How Dr. Schultz Escaped From Jail by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 4, Number 2, January 1959

History Lives in Point Douglas Street Names by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 4, Number 3, April 1959

In Memorium - Harriet Jane Barber Graham by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 7, Number 3, April 1962

Dr. J. C. Schultz by Murray Campbell
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1963-64 Season

Winnipeg’s Oldest House by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 19, Number 3, Spring 1974

Walking Tour of North Point Douglas
MHS Walking Tours

Sources:

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Page revised: 2 April 2010

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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