Memorable Manitobans: Conrad Stephenson Riley (1875-1960)
Born aboard a steamship enroute from England to Canada on 25 August 1875, son of Robert Thomas Riley, brother of Harold James Riley, he spent his early years at Hamilton, Ontario until 1883 when his family moved to Winnipeg and he attended Mulvey School.
In 1892 he took his first job as a clerk with the Northern Pacific Railway Company. In 1899 he joined the staff of the Canadian Fire Insurance Company, founded by his father in 1885, and became president of the company in 1942. He retired as chairman of the company, its associated Canadian Indemnity Company, and also the Northern Trusts Company in 1959. He had also served as Vice-President and Director of the Winnipeg Electric Company, a member of the London board and chairman of the Canadian board of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a director of the Royal Bank of Canada, Montreal Trust Company, Great West Life Assurance Company (1943-1953), and Beaver Lumber Company.
He was a member of the Winnipeg Rowing Club from 1890 to 1914 and its President of the Club seventeen times. His eight-oar crew won the Steward’s Cup at the Henley Regatta of 1910, and many other championships. In 1974, he was inducted to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
During the First World War he organized and recruited the 59th Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery and took it to England where he transferred to the 53rd Battery which he commanded in France until the end of the war.
On 20 June 1906, he married Jean Isabel Culver (1883-1965), daughter of William Henry Culver, at Winnipeg. They had eight children: William Culver Riley, Ronald Thomas Riley (1909-?, husband of Montegu Margaret Black, daughter of George Montegu Black), Jean Elizabeth Riley (1913-1976, wife of George Montegu Black), Conrad Sanford Riley, George Albert Riley (1917-?), Nancy Adina Riley (1920-2019, wife of Gordon Peter Osler), John Derek Riley, and Robert Sanford Riley. He served as President and Life Governor of the Board for the Winnipeg General Hospital, President of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, member of the Winnipeg School Board, and an executive of the Winnipeg Board of Trade. He was a member of the St. Charles Country Club, Pine Ridge Golf Club, and Lakewood Country Club.
He died at Winnipeg on 20 November 1960 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.
Canadian Expeditionary Force, Attestation Papers, Library and Archives Canada.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Short-lived rejoicing follows fire in second school” by Claire Tisdale, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 January 1949.
“Leading city citizen, Conrad Riley dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 November 1960, page 6.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 November 1960, page 20.
R. T. Riley, c1947. “Memoirs”. Manitoba Legislative Library, CT-1, Riley R, 119 pages.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank James Arnett for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 April 2022