Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Robert Forke (1860-1934)

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Robert Forke
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Farmer, MP (1922-1925), MP (1926), MP (1926-1929), Senator.

Born at Gordon, Berwickshire, Scotland on 2 June 1860, son of George Forke and Isabella Lothian, he was educated at Westruther Public School. He came to Manitoba in 1882 and farmed near Pipestone. Active politically, he was a Liberal candidate for the Virden constituency in a November 1909 provincial by-election. He served as Reeve of the Rural Municipality of Pipestone (1905-1914), and was President of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities (1911-1912).

During the First World War, he was a member of the Manitoba Public Welfare Commission and of the Returned Soldiers Committee (1915-1918). He was a member of the Manitoba Tax Commission (1920-1922). In 1921, he was elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive for the Brandon constituency. On the retirement of Thomas Crerar in 1922, he was chosen Leader of the Progressive Party. He was re-elected in 1925 and 1926, and acclaimed in the latter year. He served as Minister of Immigration and Colonization in the Liberal government of Mackenzie King (1926-1929). He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1929 and his seat in Parliament was taken by Thomas Crerar.

On 8 December 1892, he married Elma Christie MacGregor (1869-1937) at Pipestone. They had three daughters: Ethel May Forke (1895-1988, wife of C. J. McFarland), Marjorie Isobel Forke (1899-1991, wife of James Cattermole Berg), and Mary Gertrude Forke (1905-1998, wife of Herbert W. Beall). He was a member of the United Church.

He died at Winnipeg on 2 February 1934 and was buried in the Pipestone Cemetery.

See also:

The Progressive Party of Canada by W. L. Morton (1950).

Sources:

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Marriage and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary [Marjorie Isobel Berg], Winnipeg Free Press, 15 May 1991, page 22.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Martin Gerwin for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 February 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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