Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Agnew “Tom” McMaster (1898-1956)
Born at Clydebank, Scotland on 17 April 1898, he spent time in the navy before coming to Winnipeg in 1921. He was educated at St. John’s College and, after attending Normal School, returned to St. John’s College to teach mathematics and science (1924-1936). During this time, he attended the University of Manitoba eventually obtaining BA, BEd, and MEd degrees, receiving the University Gold Medal. Around 1936, he became a teacher at Earl Grey School and, after the Second World War, he was General Secretary of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (1946-1956). He was succeeded in the latter position by Emerson Lloyd Arnett.
McMaster contributed to the education of the armed forces during wartime on a volunteer basis. Initially assuming responsibility for educational facilities in Military District 10 and then Military District 12, he organized correspondence courses and classes under the Canadian Legion Educational Services (CLES). In Regina, he was appointed western field secretary, and by 1940 he had moved to Ottawa to take the position of deputy director of CLES. He was made the executive secretary in 1942 eventually moving to England in 1943. By working through the Red Cross, he was able to extend some of these services to prisoners of war. For his efforts, he was awarded a certificate of merit from General C. B. Price.
On 10 December 1956, he died at the Misericordia Hospital, survived by his wife Margaret, son Donald Ross McMaster, and daughter Jean, and was buried in the Garry Memorial Park. He is commemorated by McMaster House, the MTS headquarters on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg.
“Educationist,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 October 1948. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 62]
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 December 1956, page 41.
We thank Don and Ardythe McMaster for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 11 June 2021