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Memorable Manitobans: William Frederick Osborne (1873-1950)

University professor.

Born at Quyon, Quebec on 8 September 1873, son of the Reverend John C. Osborne, he graduated from Victoria College at Cobourg, Ontario in 1893 and came to Manitoba to become Professor of French at Wesley College, and also served as Registrar. He was a frequent contributor to magazines and periodicals, and he wrote The Genius of Shakespeare (1908), The Faith of a Layman (1910), and America at War (1917). He was the Liberal candidate for the Dufferin constituency, against Premier R. P. Roblin, in the 1910 provincial general election. He left the college in 1913 to become Chair of French and Modern Languages at the University of Manitoba, remaining there until retirement in 1943, at which time the University of Manitoba gave him an honorary doctorate. He was the founding President of the Alliance française in Winnipeg (1915).

On 29 June 1897, he married Maud Mary Somerset (1872-1955), daughter of J. B. Somerset, at Winnipeg and they subsequently had four children: Isabel Darche Osborne (b 1899), Joan Somerset Osborne (b 1903), Elizabeth Maud Osborne (b 1905), and John Somerset Osborne (b 1912). The family lived at 292 Kennedy (1911) and 325 Kingsway (1925). In 1910, he unsuccessfully contested the Dufferin constituency in the Manitoba Legislature against R. P. Roblin. He was a charter member of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg.

He died at his home in Montreal, Quebec on 4 February 1950.


Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“W. F. Osborne’s Dufferin’s choice,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 May 1910, page 7.

1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

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

“Dr. Osborne, formerly of U staff, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 February 1950, page 1.

“City pioneer, Mrs. Osborne dies in Montreal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 May 1955, page 40.

We thank J. David Osborne, Huguette Le Gall, and Donna Barraclough for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 September 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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