Memorable Manitobans: Robert Walter Paterson (1876-1936)
Born at Guelph, Ontario on 22 October 1876, son of Robert P. Paterson and Wilhelmia Priscilla Cousens, he was educated at the public schools of Chicago (Illinois) and the Ottawa (Ontario) Collegiate Institute. He became a clerk for the Bank of Ottawa at the age of 17 years and remained in the job for nine years. In October 1902, he was transferred to the bank’s Winnipeg branch. In the following year, he resigned his job at the bank to join the Winnipeg Paint and Glass Company, first as its Secretary-Treasurer and, later, Managing Director, serving until his military enlistment. He later served as President of the Manitoba Linseed Oil Mills, Northern Paint Company, and Northern Soap Company, and Vice-President of the Northern Canadian Mortgage Company.
During the First World War, he went overseas as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving from 1914 to 1919. Two years before the war, he organized and led the Fort Garry Horse and later commanded the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France with the rank of Brigadier General. Thrice wounded in battle, he received the DSO (1917) and French Croix de Guerre, and was made a Companion of St. Michael and St. George (1919). On his return from military duty in 1919, he became actively involved in public affairs, serving for 10 years as President of the On-To-The-Bay Association, founded in 1924, that advocated for completion of the Hudson’s Bay Railway to Port Nelson and later to Churchill.
On 12 June 1907, he married Liley Drewry (1882-1964), daughter of Edward L. Drewry, at Winnipeg. They had two sons and a daughter. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Royal Lake of the Woods Yacht Club, Oakland Shooting Club, Tuxedo Riding Club, and St. Charles Country Club. His recreations included riding, sailing, shooting, and curling.
He died at the Deer Lodge Hospital on 26 March 1936 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by the Paterson Siding on the Wekusko Subdivision of the Hudson Bay Railway.
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.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Brig. Gen. Paterson dies; was organizer and first Fort Gary Horse leader,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 March 1936, page 3.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 8 September 2018
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