Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Benjamin Jones Hales (1868-1945)

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Benjamin Jones Hales
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Educator, author, naturalist.

Born at Peterborough, Ontario on 24 November 1868, he was educated as a lawyer and teacher. He came to Manitoba and taught at MacGregor School (c1899) and Hartney School (1901-1905) before moving to Brandon as Principal of the Brandon Normal School, serving from 1907 to June 1938. He was President of the Manitoba Educational Association (1931-1932). He also served as a Brandon city alderman from 1920 to 1923, and Chair of the Brandon Parks Board for 19 years.

On 14 April 1900, he married Elizabeth Ida Lewis (1864-1943) at Winnipeg. They had a daughter, Marion Margaret Hales Doig. A keen naturalist, Hales amassed a substantial collection of Manitoba plants and animals which, in 1913, became the basis for the B. J. Hales Museum of Natural History, now held at the Brandon General Museum. For many years he had a summer cottage on Lake Manitoba, and he travelled widely through the province, collecting specimens. He published the book Forests and Trees (1919) on the trees of western Manitoba.

He died at Brandon on 23 December 1945 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: B. J. Hales House (1312 Tenth Street, Brandon)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Normal School (1129 Queens Street, Brandon)


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“B. J. Hales, educationalist, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1945. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]

The History of the Manitoba Educational Association by Ernest Butterworth, MEd thesis, Faculty of Graduate Study and Research, University of Manitoba, 1965.

We thank Juliann Parsons, Al Thorleifson, and Terry Hewitt for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 May 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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