Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Beattie Roberton (1879-1936)
Born at Glasgow, Scotland on 20 October 1879, son of George Roberton (1856-1935), he apprenticed with a printing firm before moving to Canada in 1910. He market gardened in Alberta, set type in Calgary and Victoria, and ended up in Winnipeg working as a printer for the labour newspaper The Voice. He joined the Manitoba Free Press in 1918 and remained there until his death, serving as Associate Editor (1929-1931) and Assistant Editor-in-Chief (1931-1936).
Roberton had no experience as a reporter, and was a critic/commentator from the outset of his journalistic career. He wrote on a variety of topics under the nom de plume “T.B.R.” His subject matter ranged from Robbie Burns to a defence of political agitators, to jazz, to Canadian literature. A collection of his essays, edited by J. B. “Hamish” McGeachy, appeared in 1936 as TBR: Newspaper Pieces. It was recognized with an inaugural Governor General's Literary Award.
He and wife Elizabeth Allen (1879-1958) had four girls and three boys.
He died of a heart attack at his Winnipeg home, 104 Rose Street, on 13 January 1936 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
“T. B. Roberton, noted Winnipeg writer, passes,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 January 1936, page 3.
Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“J. B. McGeachy,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 September 1966, page 13.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 5 September 2021