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Memorable Manitobans: Huntley Douglas Brodie Ketchen (1872-1959)

Click to enlargeSoldier, MLA (1933-1936), MLA (1937-1940), MLA (1941-1945).

Born at Sholapore, India on 22 May 1872, son of Major James Ketchen and Mrs J. Lumsden Ritchie, he was educated at Wellington College and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In 1890, he commenced a military career as Second Lieutenant in the British Imperial Army, serving until 1893 when he came to Canada.

Ketchen came to Winnipeg in January 1894 and served in the North-West Mounted Police until 1900. He served as a lieutenant in the Boer War, then as brigadier-general of the Sixth Canadian Infantry from 1915 to 1917. He was relieved of active command after a military fiasco at St. Eloi (Flanders) in 1915. At the time of his death he was a major-general. After World War One he was appointed commanding officer of the military district in which Winnipeg was located, serving from 1919 until 1929, when he retired.

On 21 November 1895, he married Margaret Elizabeth Robinson of Regina, Saskatchewan, with whom he had three sons.

Ketchen was thus in charge of the military during the Winnipeg General Strike. As district commander, he followed orders from Ottawa and in general restrained his troops from confrontations with the civilian population. He also favoured use of the War Measures Act to deal with post-war problems of the cost of living by appointing a prices board to investigate complaints and with power to prosecute. He met daily with local officials about the strike and was one of the chief advisers to government. He opposed bail for the arrested strike leaders in 1919 on the grounds that the militia would be unhappy with such an action.


Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

“Under The Golden Boy, Manitoba’s M.L.A.s” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 March 1943. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9, page 128]

Page revised: 2 February 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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