Memorable Manitobans: Walter Henry Gabriel “Harry” Gibbs (1872-1952)
Born at Bridgewater, Somerset County, England on 3 July 1872, son of William Gibbs and Mary Jones Gabriel, he arrived in Manitoba with his family in 1875 and was educated at the Selkirk Central School and Wesley College. He was apprenticed to the drug profession, passed examinations in 1894, and worked at Selkirk with R. Gilhooley. He entered the University of Manitoba and graduated in 1908, practised medicine at Carievale, Saskatchewan for two years then at The Pas and Cowdry before returning to Selkirk.
During the First World War, he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force CAMC in April 1916 and went overseas in May to the CAMC Training Depot at Westernhanger. He was attached to the 5th Division, 156th Battalion as Medical Officer. He served in France from January 1917, at the General Base Depot at Etaples, doing Board work until Armistice. Afterwards, he continued at Brussels, Belgium then was at Witley Camp in England. Returning to Canada, he was posted to the Tuxedo Military Hospital. After discharge, he resumed his medical practice, serving also as a provincial coroner.
In 1898, he married Belle Marshall (?-?). They had one son, Willard Gibbs. He was the Returning Officer for Le Pas constituency a 1912 provincial by-election. He served on the Selkirk School Board, and as the President of the Selkirk Board of Trade and the Mayor of Selkirk (1922, 1926-1927). In 1925, he contested the federal Selkirk constituency on behalf of the Liberal party but was defeated, as he was in the 1927, 1932, and 1945 provincial general elections. He was a member of the Canadian and Manitoba Medical Associations, Masonic Fraternity, IOOF (Past Noble Grand), and the Presbyterian Church.
He retired to Vancouver, British Columbia where he died on 26 April 1952. His body was returned to Manitoba for burial in St. Clement’s Cemetery at Mapleton.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“Ex-mayor of Selkirk dies in B.C.,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 May 1952, page 13.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 October 2023