Memorable Manitobans: Sinclair Balsor Ritchie (1855-1933)
Born in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia on 9 February 1855, son of Wilkinson J. E. Ritchie and Anne Balsor, after an early education he moved to New Brunswick where he became a master carpenter and joiner. He moved to Winnipeg in October 1879 and became a foreman with the firm of Brown and Rutherford. After a short time he established the building construction firm of Ritchie and McCloy, in partnership with D. E. McCloy. After his partner’s death three years later, he continued in business alone. He built several of the prominent buildings in Winnipeg, including several Winnipeg-area schools, most of the Winnipeg Fire Halls built prior to the First World War, and the buildings on the Winnipeg Exhibition Grounds. He also developed Boundary Park as a part of Winnipeg Beach.
On 18 June 1879, he married Elizabeth L. Gates of Melvin Square, Nova Scotia. They had five children: Charles A. Ritchie, Ivy Irene Ritchie, (wife of Gordon M. Thomson), Muriel Claire Ritchie (wife of O. Leslie Robinson), Frank Ritchie, and Sinclair Balsor Ritchie Jr. In 1913, the family lived at 233 Vaughan Street. He served on the Winnipeg Beach town council and was Mayor of Winnipeg Beach from 1915 to 1920. He erected over 200 cottages at Winnipeg Beach for himself and others. He was a member of Holy Trinity Church, AOUW (Grand Master), IOOF (Grand Patriarch), Canadian Order of Foresters, and Clan Stewart of the Order of Scottish Clans. He was a keen duck hunter, owning a well-equipped shooting lodge on his 800-acre farm near the marshes of Lake Manitoba.
He died at the Winnipeg home of his daughter on 14 December 1933, following a lengthy illness. He was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.
Some of the Manitoba buildings that his firm constructed:
“Winnipeg’s big building development during 1908,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 December 1908, page 31.
“Pioneer in city building is dead, following stroke,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 December 1933, page 7.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 15 December 1933, page 24.
The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 January 2023