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Memorable Manitobans: William John Guest (1852-1940)

Click to enlarge

William John Guest
Click to enlarge

Fish merchant.

Born near Kincardine, Ontario on 2 December 1852, he attended school in Kincardine until he was 12. He came to Winnipeg in 1881 and found work in a brick yard, later delivering bread for a bakery. He then took up land near Brandon and, after a short period of employment with the Canadian Pacific Railway, he returned to Winnipeg and his bakery job. During the summer of 1891 he began fishing on Lake Winnipeg, salting and selling his catch in Winnipeg. The business grew, becoming the foundation of the Northern Fish Company which later became the W. J. Guest Fish Company, one of the largest companies buying and selling fish from Manitoba lakes.

On 31 December 1886, he married Ada Belinda Robinson (1869-1951). They had two daughters: Lottie Irene Guest (b 1885) and Louie Guest (b 1887, wife of William B. Semmens, son of John Semmens). His Winnipeg home at 75 Academy Road, where he lived from 1907 to around 1937, was designed by architect James Chisholm. He was a member of Fort Rouge Methodist Church, a trustee of Zion Methodist Church, and the Canadian Order of Foresters.

He died at Winnipeg on 24 July 1940 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Guest Fish Warehouse / Great West Metal Building (90 Alexander Avenue, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Guest Block (596-598 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Winnipeg Public Docks / Alexander Docks (70 Alexander Avenue, Winnipeg)

Northern Prairie Steamboats: W. J. Guest


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“W. J. Guest,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 December 1937, page 2.

“W. J. Guest, fish company founder, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 July 1940, page 2.

“Death climaxes careers of many notable people in course of 1940,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1941, page 1.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

Crescentwood: A History by R. R. Rostecki, Crescentwood Home Owners Association, 1993.

We thank Bill Elleker and Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 December 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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