Memorable Manitobans: John Robert Grant (1844-1927)

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One of the best known of the Scottish-Canadian citizens of Winnipeg, one who had been engaged in life insurance and loan company work in Winnipeg and the west for a period of almost 50 years, John Robert Grant, died Saturday (17 December 1927) at his residence, 96 Home street, age 83 years. Mr. Grant was prominent in Masonic and Scottish circles, in the St. Andrew’s Society, in Knox church and in the Assiniboine Bowling club circles. Death followed a period of ill health covering the past few years, sojourns in California each season for the past 15 years doing much to prolong his life.

Mr. Grant was born July 18, 1844, in the county of Huron, Ont., two miles from the town of Clinton. He was the son of Peter Grant and Isabelle McKenzie, and was the youngest but one of a family of 11 children.

His great-grandfather, born in the city of Inverness, Scotland, fought in the Irish rebellion of the eighteenth century, and also at the Battle of Culloden Moor, for “Prince Charlie.” Shortly after the defeat of the prince’s forces, Mr. Grant sailed with his wife for Canada , settling near the town of Pictou, N.S. Although born 100 years before the battle of Waterloo , he died in Nova Scotia, a Canadian, in 1790, and his branch of Clan Grant have been Canadians for over 200 years.

Mr. Grant came to Winnipeg, then Fort Garry, in 1874. For many years he was in and out of Winnipeg, engaged in insurance work, but took up his permanent residence in this city in 1889 as western inspector of the London & Canadian Loan company, and at the termination of his engagement with them, became the manager of the Federal Life Insurance & Loan company in the west, with Winnipeg his headquarters. This position he held for almost 20 years, when he retired.

Two years later he entered the field of railway building in California, and also was a stockholder and director of an oil producing company in California, in both of which he made a success.

Mr. Grant was a member of the Masonic order, being particularly interested in the Scottish Rite. He passed through all the offices of the Masonic lodge. He was a past president of the Manitoba Historical and Scientific Society, and also was a past president of St. Andrew’s society. He was a liberal contributor to the Children’s Home, the Old Folks’ Home and the General hospital, of which he was for a time one of the governors.

Mr. Grant was well known as a cricketer and a lawn bowler, having been a member of the Assiniboine club and the winner of many trophies. He was also a skillful billiard player, and when 70 years of age entered a club competition in California with 1,000 members, requiring 50 games to be played, winning the first prize, a valuable jointed cue. For the past 15 or 20 years, he had made the Jonathan club in Los Angeles his winter headquarters.

Surviving is his daughter, Jessie M. Grant, living at the family home in this city; also three children of his first wife before her marriage to Mr. Grant, Agnes M. Kay, Winnipeg; Adam M. Kay, postmaster at Stratford, Ont., and Helen Kay of Brussels, Ont. Mr. Grant joined Knox church, Winnipeg in 1874 and had seen the congregation occupy five edifices during his long membership. He was particularly interested in the choir of the church and did much to advance their interests.

The funeral will be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock in Knox United church, and will be conducted by Rev. F. B. DuVal, and Rev. Prof. Kerr, D.D. Burial will be in the family plot, St. John’s cemetery.

While absent from Winnipeg he was a frequent contributor to the Free Press columns, writing many virile and observing articles of scenes and events and impressions of his travels and sojourns in other lands and climes.


Obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 20 December 1927.

Page revised: 19 April 2009

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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