Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Robert Douglas Cameron (1879-1955)

Administrator, social worker.

Born at Glasgow, Scotland on 24 July 1879, son of John Cameron (1854-?) and Catherine McAdam (1856-?), he lived in Glasgow into the early 1900s and is believed to have wed Elizabeth Watson (1882-1975) before immigrating to Canada in 1912. He was active in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in British Columbia, reportedly at Fernie, and later at Cranbrook. At the latter, he was the General-Secretary of the Cranbrook Railway YMCA from November 1912 until September 1914, when he resigned and moved to Manitoba to become Superintendent (1914-1916) of the Knowles Home for Boys in East Kildonan.

In 1915, he had a profound disagreement with Mrs. V. T. Miller of the school’s teaching staff which, in early 1916, caused its Board to force his resignation. However, he was granted permission to adopt one of the boys on the condition that the boy reported to the Home by-weekly. It is unknown whether or not the adoption took place. He joined the Children’s Home of Winnipeg and worked as its Secretary (1916-?). Later in 1916, he moved to St. Boniface where he and his wife resided at 79 Victoria Street [now Dollard Boulevard] and lived with two likely-adopted children: Albert (c1910-?) and Elizabeth (c1913-?), neither of whom were recorded with the couple in the 1921 census. Around 1920, he joined the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in Winnipeg as its Assistant Secretary (c1920-c1926) and was the Superintedent (1921) of the Society’s Home for Feeble Minded on Lot 113 in East St. Paul. He later worked as a Secretary for the Provincial Department of Health and Welfare (c1926-c1929). He was also Secretary of British-Israel Association (1920s) and President of the Winnipeg Social Workers’ Club (?-1926, c1929).

In the 1930s, he joined the Canadian Manufacturing Association and served as its Executive Secretary (?-1955). During this period, he returned to British Columbia and took up residence at Vancouver. He died at St. Paul’s Hospital on 14 July 1955 and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery at Burnaby.

Sources:

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

1916, 1921, & 1926 Canada censuses, Library and Archives Canada.

“[A well attended meeting of the British Israel Association ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 13 January 1922, page 4.

“British-Israel group holds final meeting,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1924, page 8.

“Local notes [J. E. Wawson was the speaker ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 4 April 1924, page 9.

“F. A. E. Hamilton heads Social Workers Club,” Manitoba Free Press, 18 May 1926, page 4.

“Responsibility for youth is discussed,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 April 1929, page 20.

“Knowles Boys School reports good work done,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 16 October 1937, page 2.

From Boys’ Home to Treatment Centre: A History of Knowles Centre Inc. by Kristine Baker, 1995.

Gilfillian/Craig family tree, Ancestry.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 21 July 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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