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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Frederick Gray (1879-1954)

Engineer, Mayor of Winnipeg (1919-1920).

Born in London, England, he was a consulting electrical engineer with no apparent links to Winnipeg’s commercial elite before his election to the Board of Control in 1917. He lived in Elm Park. During the 1918 municipal workers’ strike, he began by favouring a compromise with the unions and ended up supporting the resolution denying to all civic employees the right to strike.

He ran for mayor in 1918 on a platform of honest government, and was mayor during the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919. He was gradually persuaded that the strike was Bolshevism run rampant. He supported the efforts of city council to force its employees back to work through “yellow dog” tactics, and issued public proclamations against street demonstrations. On 5 June he ordered the use of special constables. On “Bloody Saturday” (21 June) when he was told the specials could not control the crowds, he personally drove to North West Mounted Police headquarters to request the Mounties to intervene. He subsequently read the riot act to the demonstrators at city hall.

In 1941 he moved to Ashland, British Columbia where he operated a salt mine. He died at Victoria.

Sources:

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

We thank Tom Mitchell for some information used in this biography.

This profile was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 March 2011

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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