Memorable Manitobans: Robert Fletcher (1873-1963)
Born near Tilsonburg, Ontario on 6 October 1873, son of Walter Fletcher and Catherine Frost, he was educated at the Dutton (Ontario) High School, Trinity University (Toronto), the St. Thomas Model School, and the Winnipeg Normal School. He came to Manitoba in 1893 and taught at South Antler School (1894-1895), Elkhorn School (?-?), Lansdowne, Kenora (Ontario), Portage Collegiate Institute (?-?), and St. John’s College (?-?). He worked as Manager of of the wholesale clothing firm of Donald Fraser & Company.
He entered the service of the Provincial Government, Department of Education, in 1903, succeeding William Piritte Argue as Chief Clerk of the Department of Education, and rose to become Deputy Minister of Education, a position from which he retired in August 1939. He was Chairman of the Winnipeg Playground Commission for ten years, and a member of the Winnipeg Public Parks Board, and Chairman of the same from 1922 to 1924. With William Cottingham, from 1926 to 1927 he served on the Fletcher-Cottingham Commission of Inquiry into operation of the Home of the Friendless. He was President of the Manitoba Educational Association (1927-1928). He was a major advocate of school consolidation and also sat on the board of St. Johns-Ravenscourt School.
On 13 June 1900, he married Kathleen Johnson (1875-?), with whom he had two sons: James Gordon Fletcher (1901-?) and Robert Vernon Fletcher (1908-?). In recognition of his community service, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (1922), the King George V Jubilee Medal Medal (1935), and a Manitoba Golden Boy Award (1962), and he was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt.
He died at his Winnipeg home, 644 Gertrude Avenue, on 9 April 1963 and was buried in St. John’s Cemetery. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba. He is commemorated by Fletcher Crescent in Winnipeg.
His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
Birth registration [J. G. Fletcher], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1906 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.
Annual Reports of the Manitoba Department of Education, Manitoba Legislative Library.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“King to honor many Manitoba men and women,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 May 1935, page 1.
The History of the Manitoba Educational Association by Ernest Butterworth, MEd thesis, Faculty of Graduate Study and Research, University of Manitoba, 1965.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 11 April 1963, page 24.
We thank Len Kaminski for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 February 2023