Memorable Manitobans: William Benjamin Hall (1833-1902)
Born at Fort Erie, Upper Canada in July 1833, the son of Cyrenius Hall (1788-1860) and Mary Fellows (1805-1839). he lived at Hall’s Mills (later known as Byron) near London and worked as a surveyor. In 1858, he came to Red River Settlement and settled at Headingley on high ground along the Assiniboine River. He acquired a land grant in 1859, and by 1861 had erected a small dwelling named “The Hermitage.” His residence was later incorporated into a larger two-storey dwelling of log construction in 1878, and retained its name. It stood on the north side of present-day Roblin Boulevard, at Lot 1 of Headingley. Their house was open to many, and frequented by those recuperating from illness. During the 1869-1870 Red River Resistance, he took up arms against the uprising and was sought after by Riel forces.
He was Manitoba’s first professional nurseryman and, in 1865, was sent by the federal government to St. Paul, Minnesota to purchase grain seeds and provisions for the starved Red River Settlement following several years of locust swarms. He organized the first provincial agricultural exhibition in 1871, to which he also submitted many entries. He operated a large orchard and gardens where a wide range of fruits and vegetables were grown, including oranges and watermelon. He later expanded into trees and shrubbery, and brought in stock from Minnesota by riverboat. In 1880, the government requested samples from his collection for public display in Eastern Canada.
He served the community for many years in the capacity of Justice of the Peace. He also functioned as a Returning Officer, Commissioner of Affidavits, and was an inaugural member of the Protestant section of the Board of Education until the implementation of the Advisory Board. He was an executive member of the Diocese of Ruperts Land, a frequent member of the Synod, the Rector’s Warden, a member of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and made the trip to Fort Pembina to become a member of the first Masonic Lodge in Manitoba.
On 17 September 1861, he married Matilda Martha Talbot (1836-1913) at Cleveland, Minnesota. The couple went on to have nine children, among which were William Cyrenius Hall, William Lyman Hall (1862-?), Charles Edward Freeman Hall (1864-1912), Talbot Clarke Hall (1866-1867), Helen Elizabeth Hall (1871-1968, wife of Montague “Monte” Vialoux), Julia Mary Talbot Hall (c1872-1936, wife of Martin Stanley Wheatley), Ernest Benjamin Rupert Hall (1873-1934), Beatrice Ruth Annie Hall (1875-1948, wife of Edwin Cox), and Mina Alexandra Ethel Hall (1881-1953, wife of Wartnaby “Walter” Morrice).
He died of heart failure in bed at his Hermitage residence on 23 June 1902 and was buried in Holy Trinity Anglican Cemetery at Headingley. He is commemorated by Hermitage Road in Headingley.
Birth, marriage, and death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
1870 Manitoba census, Library and Archives Canada.
1881 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
1901 and 1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Gazette Notices,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 21 June 1876, page 3.
“The official Gazette,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 21 November 1878, page 1.
Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, page 25 June 1902, page 3.
“Found dead at Headingly,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 June 1902, page 6.
“Late W. B. Hall,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 July 1902, page 6.
Marriage notice [Morrice], Manitoba Free Press, 20 September 1904, page 3.
“Local notes [Mrs. W. C. Hall], Manitoba Free Press, 3 October 1906, page 11.
“Christmas, 1861,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 December 1910, page 46.
Obituary [Charles Edward Hall], Manitoba Free Press, 11 October 1912, page 12.
“Mrs. Hall, pioneer of Headingly, dead,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 June 1913, page 24.
“Early pioneeress called by death,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 June 1913, page 5.
Obituary [Matilda Martha Hall], Manitoba Free Press, 20 June 1913, page 20.
“Four lives lost when residence of Wm. C. Hall, Headingly, is burned,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 January 1920, page 1.
“Father, baby and two others perish in fire,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 28 January 1920, page 2.
Obituary [Ernest B. R. Hall], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 September 1934, page 10.
“Old resident on Assiniboine celebrates 75th birthday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 March 1946, page 10.
“William B. Hall - Manitoba's pioneer nurseryman,” by Edith Paterson, Winnipeg Free Press New Leisure, 5 April 1975, page 5.
Voth family tree, Ancestry.
PatterFam tree, Ancestry.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 21 June 2014