Memorable Manitobans: George “Geordie” Farquhar (1880-1975)
Cleric, lawyer, editor.
Born at Wetherby, Yorkshire, England on 17 July 1880, son of James Farquhar (1843-1924) and Ann Margaret McDonald (1841-1889), he came to Canada in 1883 and attended school at Windsor, Nova Scotia. He graduated from Dalhousie University (MA, 1907) and attained Masters degrees in Economics and Philosophy. He enrolled in seminary studies at Pine Hill College and finished seminary education in 1910. Ordained that year, his first posting was a Presbyterian congregation at Hampton, New Brunswick (1910-1913).
He moved to Winnipeg as Assistant Reverend of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church (1913-1914) under Charles William Gordon. He subsequently served as Acting Reverend of the Point Douglas Presbyterian Church (1914-1915). With the onset of the First World War, he joined the Canadian Chaplain Services and was posted in Military District No. 10 (Winnipeg) as Chaplain at Camp Hughes from July to November 1915. He was attached to the 61st Battalion in November 1915 and formally enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in January 1916, receiving the rank of Honourary Lieutenant along with a promotion to Honourary Captain less than a month later. From January to March, he was Assistant Adjutant for the 61st until they shipped overseas, when he was appointed their Chaplain. He maintained chaplaincy duties in England and was attached to the 11th Reserve Battalion in July 1916, prior to being reassigned to the 44th Battalion. With the latter, he served with the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade Headquarters, and was stationed in France with the 44th from January 1917 to January 1918. While overseas, he met and married Ruby [Rubie] Magdalena Duffus (1888-1965), who had grown up at Minnedosa and trained as a nurse at Brandon, in 1917 at Saint Columbia’s Church (London, England).
He resigned his commission in February 1918 and returned to Winnipeg, working until September as Reverend of Robertson Memorial Presbyterian Church (1918). His time away from the CEF was shortlived, as he re-enlisted in September 1918 to serve with the Canadian Siberia Expeditionary Force (CSEF) in support of the White Russians. Again as Chaplain, he shipped out with the CSEF for Vladivostock, and was posted there as well as further inland at Omsk, additionally working on behalf of both the Red Cross and YMCA. During this time, he journaled his experience. By July 1919, the CSEF had been recalled and, upon returning to Canada, he again resigned.
From Winnipeg, the couple settled at New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and had three children: Margaret Jean Farquhar (1920-2014), Mary Duffus Farquhar (1923-2016, wife of Ross Hamilton), and Gordon Ian Farquhar (1932-1969). He went on to become a lawyer and was Editor-in-Chief of Halifax Chronicle. He was a close associate of John Wesley Dafoe. In 1938, he was appointed to a ten-year term on the Nova Scotia Public Utilies Board and was its Commissioner (1949).
He died at Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 1975 and was buried locally at Fairview Cemetery.
1901 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
1921 Canada census, Ancestry.
Birth registration [Margaret Jean Farquhar], Nova Scotia Vital Statistics.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
“Local Church notes [Mr. Farquhar preaches],” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 February 1914, page 20.
“St.Stephen’s Associate, Rev. C. G. Paterson wanted,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 September 1914, page 24.
“Future of Point Douglas Church,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 December 1914, page 20.
“Can we trust in God,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 January 1915, page 17.
“Church notes [Point Douglas Presbyterian Church],” Manitoba Free Press, 10 April 1915, page 13.
“Army Chaplain” Manitoba Free Press, 15 January 1916, page 19.
“New Minister - from overseas,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 February 1918, page 8.
“Capt. Farquhar at Grace Church forum” Manitoba Free Press, 27 April 1918, page 5.
“Church activities [Robertson Memorial],” Manitoba Free Press, 27 July 1918, page 7.
“Want attachment of alien property [Capt. Rev. Geo. Farquhar],” Manitoba Free Press, 26 September 1918, page 5.
“War has smashed church barriers,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 July 1919, page 9.
“At Vladivostock - The Bolsheviki in Siberia,” by Captain George Farquhar, Manitoba Free Press, 21 July 1919, page 11.
“Do you remember,” Brandon Daily Sun, 31 December 1937, page 9.
“Ex-Winnipeg man appointed to N.S. Utilies Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 February 1938, page 2.
“Canadians should learn more about Nfld,” Corner Brook Western Star, 11 March 1949, page 5.
“Deaths [Halifax],” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 1975, page 6.
John Hamilton family tree, Ancestry.
Obituary [Mary Duffus Hamilton], MacIsasac Funeral Home.
We thank John Hamilton and David Hamilton for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 13 August 2022