Memorable Manitobans: Benjamin Jones Hales (1868-1945)
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 (1920-1923) 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 the north shore of Clear Lake and he travelled widely through the province, collecting specimens. He published three books on the natural resources of the west: Selected Western Flora: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta (c1915), Forests and Trees (1919), and Prairie Birds (1927).
He died at Brandon on 23 December 1945 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery.
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, Terry Hewitt, and Karla Smith for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 22 January 2022