Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Palmerston Robertson (1841-1919)

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John Palmerston Robertson
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Educator, journalist, librarian.

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John Palmerston Robertson
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Born at Fortingal, Perthshire, Scotland on 23 May 1841, he emigrated to Canada in 1845 where he was educated in Ottawa and at the Normal School in Toronto. He taught school in Toronto and Ottawa for more than a decade. Turning to journalism, he was a member of the editorial staff of the Ottawa Times from 1873 until 1878. In 1879 he became night editor of the Winnipeg Times. From 1881 until 1884 he was on the editorial staff of the Manitoba Free Press. He wrote A Political Manual of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (Winnipeg, 1887).

On 15 July 1869, he married Jessie Graham (1851-?) of Ottawa, Ontario. They had six children: William Robertson (?-?), Walter Robertson (?-?), Catherine Robertson (?-?, wife of James Osborne), Flora Gordon Robertson (1877-?, wife of R. M. McTaggart), Beatrice Wilson Robertson (1884-1969, wife of A. C. Ruttan), and Robert Bruce Robertson (1887-?).

He was a charter member and president of the St. Andrew’s Society and secretary-treasurer of the Manitoba Curling Association from its organization in November 1888, until February 1919. He helped found the Manitoba Curling Club, was general manager of the Mammoth Winnipeg Annual Bonspiel for a quarter century (1888-1919), and represented the Assiniboine curlers on the Canadian team that travelled in Britain in 1909. He also compiled annual yearbooks of curling in Manitoba.

On 1 July 1884, he became Manitoba Legislative Librarian, which post he held until his death at Los Angeles, California on 11 April 1919. He was succeeded by W. J. Healy. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

J. P. Robertson: Manitoba’s First Librarian, Curator, and Archivist by Christopher Kotecki
Manitoba History, Number 79, Fall 2015


A Political Manual of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by J. P. Robertson, Winnipeg: Call Printing Company, 1887.

Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

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.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

We thank Suyoko Tsukamoto for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 17 January 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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