Memorable Manitobans: James Arthur Ross (1893-1958)
Born at Lyleton on 8 December 1893, son of John Alexander Ross and Jessie Mary Sellar, and educated at the Melita public and high schools, and the Manitoba Agricultural College. He served with the Fifth Battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. After the war, he commanded the Border Horse Regiment of the Canadian Militia from 1919 to 1929, and farmed three sections of land in the Melita district. He was a Director of the Arthur E. D. Agricultural Society for 20 years and its President from 1924 to 1929. He was a member of the Council of the Rural Municipality of Arthur from 1929 to 1932, and Reeve of the Rural Municipality of Arthur from 1933 to 1940. He became a member of the executive of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities in 1936, Vice-President in 1937 and was elected President in the fall of 1939, serving into 1940.
On 18 October 1930, he married Hilda Morrison (?-?), daughter of James Morrison of Brandon. They had three children: Maxwell Arthur Ross, Margaret Hilda Ross, and John Arthur Ross.
Defeated as a Conservative candidate in the 1936 provincial general election, during 1940 he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Souris and in his presidential address that fall he said, “It has always been the desire of all members of the executive to keep the Union non-political, and so, with this thought in mind above other considerations, I resigned from the reeveship of my home municipality this fall and I will not be a candidate for election to office in the Union tomorrow.” He retained his keen interest in municipal affairs throughout his parliamentary career and rarely missed a convention. He was re-elected in 1945 and 1949. When his seat was amalgamated with Brandon in 1952 he turned to provincial politics and from 1953 until his death he represented Arthur in the Manitoba Legislature. The Winnipeg Free Press said of him editorially: “In the House of Commons and in the Legislature Mr. Ross was an accomplished parliamentarian in debate. His major concern in the war and postwar years—born of his own experiences after the First World War—was the exodus of young people from prairie farms and the need to make farming sufficiently profitable and attractive to keep young people on the land.”
He died on 1 April 1958, after returning home to Melita when the Manitoba Legislature adjourned to allow its members to vote in a federal election.
Attestation Papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Western Municipal News, January 1940, page 3.
The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1956.
Obituary, Western Municipal News, May 1958, page 156.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 28 August 2018
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