Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Robert Ironside (1854-1910)

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Robert Ironside
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Cattle merchant, MLA (1892-1895).

Born at London, Ontario in 1854, the son of William Ironside and Catherine Airth of Scotland, he was educated in the public schools of London. He came to Manitoba about 1882 and settled at Manitou to sell farm implements. He formed a partnership with James Thomas Gordon. In 1886 the partnership was dissolved, with Ironside remaining in Manitou and Gordon going to Pilot Mound. Both continued in the same business. However, in a year or two they resumed their relationship. Business increased steadily and Ironside built the first grain elevator in Manitou, having a capacity of 40,000 bushels. They supplied the construction gangs and troops of the Riel Rebellion with beef imported from Ontario.

In 1890 Ironside and Gordon sent a large shipment of steers to Montreal, and they soon sent others to the United Kingdom. They admitted William H. Fares to partnership and the firm became Gordon, Ironside and Fares. By 1891 the company was shipping lumber, grain and cattle to European and South African markets. Six years later the company was the largest livestock-exporting house in Canada, shipping 50,000 head of cattle to England in 1900 alone. They also had an abattoir in Winnipeg.

On 12 December 1888, he married Annie Gordon (?-?) of Carman. They had two sons: Robert Gordon Ironside (1889-1941) and Charles Frederick Gordon Ironside (1892-?). He was elected Liberal MLA from Manitou in 1892, defeating James Huston. In 1896, he withdrew from contesting the federal riding of Lisgar rather than compete with his business partner, who was the Conservative candidate. He later moved to Montreal, where he died on 10 October 1910, but he always remained associated with Manitoba.

See also:

Winnipeg Ranchers: Gordon, Ironside and Fares by A. B. McCullough
Manitoba History, Number 41, Spring/Summer 2001

Robert Ironside, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIII, 498-99.


Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

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

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 30 September 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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