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Memorable Manitobans: Rodmond Palen Roblin (1853-1937)

Click to enlargeBusinessman, MLA (1888-1892), MLA (1896-1899), MLA (1900-1903), MLA (1903-1907), MLA (1908-1910), MLA (1911-1914), MLA (1914-1915), Premier of Manitoba (1900-1915).

Born at Sophiasburg, Prince Edward County, Ontario on 15 February 1853, son of James Platt Roblin and Deborah R. Roblin, he was educated at Albert College (Belleville, Ontario). He worked as a cheese buyer and in 1877 moved to Winnipeg. He then moved to Carman where he operated a general store from 1880 to 1886. He served as Reeve of the Rural Municipality of North Dufferin for three years, as well as a warden for two years, and a school trustee.

Click to enlargeHe unsuccessfully contested Dufferin for the provincial legislature in 1886, and was an unsuccessful candidate for Morden. He was elected as an Independent for Dufferin in 1888, and in 1892 he ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative for the Morden seat. In 1896 he was elected as Conservative member for Woodlands, and he was soon chosen leader of the party. Roblin became premier in October 1900, serving until his resignation in 1915 in the midst of a corruption scandal over the construction of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

He promoted the grain trade and railway construction, and introduced the first government-owned telephone system in North America. Manitoba extended its boundary and doubled its territory in 1912 under his premiership. He was made knight commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1912. After leaving politics, he operated an automobile dealership.

He was married twice, first on 13 September 1875 to Adelaide DeMille (1853-1928) with whom he had five sons: Frederick Roblin (b c1876), Wilfred Laurier Roblin (b 1878), Arthur B. Roblin (b 1885), George A. Roblin, and Charles Dufferin Roblin (b 1892; father of Dufferin Roblin). On 5 February 1929, after the death of his first wife, he married Ethel Leggett at Los Angeles, California. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Carleton Club, Adanac Club, and Hunt Club.

He died at Hot Springs, Arkansas on 16 February 1937. He is commemorated by Roblin Boulevard in Winnipeg, the Town of Roblin, and the Rural Municipal of Roblin.

There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Rodmond Roblin House (RM of Dufferin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Agricultural College (Tuxedo Avenue, Winnipeg)

Thirty-Five Years in the Limelight: Sir Rodmond P. Roblin and His Times by Hugh Robert Ross (1936).

“Rodmond P. Roblin, 1900-1915 ” by Jim Blanchard in Manitoba Premiers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2010.

Sources:

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.

“Sir Rodmond Roblin and Miss Ethel Leggett are married at Los Angeles”, Winnipeg Free Press, 6 February 1929. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]

“Victim of heart seizure”, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1937. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 November 2012

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