Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Bell (1863-1936)

Building contractor.

Born around York, Ontario on 26 January 1863, one of ten children of William Bell (1825-1904) and Susan Walker, in 1882 he came to Manitoba with his family and was the principal partner in the Brandon construction firms of Bell Brothers (with his brother George) and, later, William Bell and Sons. These companies were responsible for building several important commercial and domestic structures in western Manitoba, noted for their “high quality materials and fine workmanship.”

Bell lived in Toronto from about 1895 to at least 1901 before coming back to Brandon. He and wife Rosa Ellen Tomlin (1873-1914; sister-in-law of Albert S. Doyle) had four children: Mossie May Bell (b 1893), James Henry Bell (b 1895), William Edgar Bell (b 1900), and Gordon Bell (b 1908). After the death of his wife, he returned to the Toronto-Hamilton area where he continued to work in the building trade, retiring around 1923.

Brother-in-law of George A. Paterson.

He died of tuberculosis at Wentworth, Ontario on 1 May 1936.

Some of the buildings that he constructed:




Lorne Terrace

1133 Lorne Avenue, Brandon


Coldwell Block

1104 Rosser Avenue, Brandon


Sandison House

RM of Elton


Bell Block

1202 Rosser Avenue, Brandon


Patterson House / Matheson House

1039 Louise Avenue, Brandon


Ninette Sanatorium

Ninette, RM of Strathcona


Moreland Manor

1340 Louise Avenue, Brandon


St. Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral

403 Thirteenth Street, Brandon



Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Ontario birth and death registrations, Ancestry.

1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

“Wm. Bell has passed away,” Brandon Daily Sun, 7 June 1904, page 3.

“William Bell will build sanatarium,” Brandon Daily Sun, 27 May 1909, page 1.

“Brandon old boy seeking kinfolk,” Brandon Sun, 12 July 1980, page 5.

“John Sandison House”, Manitoba Heritage Council Report, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, March 1996.

Holy Ground: The Story of the Manitoba Sanatorium at Ninette by David B. Stewart, J. A. Victor David Museum, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 December 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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