Memorable Manitobans: Robert McBeth (1805-1886)
Farmer, Justice of the Peace.
Born in Sutherlandshire, in the Kildonan Parish of Scotland, he came to the Red River Settlement in 1815 with his father, Alexander McBeth. He married Mary McLean, a daughter of Hector McLean and stepdaughter of John Pritchard, said to be the first white child born west of the Great Lakes.They had ten children, four of whom survived, including John McBeth, Robert McBeth Jr, Roderick G. McBeth, and Mary McBeth (wife of J. S. Nisbet).
He engaged in farming, conducted a general store, and ran a freighting service between Winnipeg and York Factory, operating his own boats and superintending the operation of boats owned by others. For many years he served as Magistrate, and received a commission as Justice of the Peace from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1862. He was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia on 29 March 1853, the first Selkirk settler so recognized. He served on a committee to regulate the importation of spirituous liquors, and in 1863 on a committee to mark out the public roads of the Settlement.
McBeth served as magistrate at 38 sessions of the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, including the investigation into the 1870 death of Elzéar Goulet. He was not active in the Red River Rebellion, although he sheltered John Schultz for a night upon his escape from Upper Fort Garry.
He died at Winnipeg on 20 August 1886. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.
Death registration, 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: 26 October 2017