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Memorable Manitobans: Albert Robert “Ginger” Snook (1835-1926)

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Albert Robert “Ginger” Snook
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Street cleaner, raconteur.

Born at Forban, Wiltshire, England on 2 June 1835, Snook immigrated to Canada in 1879, arriving first at London, Ontario then at Winnipeg in 1882. Finding no work, he joined a construction gang for the Canadian Pacific Railway as it moved west toward the Pacific Ocean. He later claimed to have helped join the west-bound tracks to the east-bound tracks being built from the railhead at Vancouver and, as proof, kept the wrench he used to joint them until the day he died.

He returned to Winnipeg and was engaged in real estate sales and trucking, becoming a relatively wealthy man. A candidate in the December 1903 municipal election, Snook became famous for his knowledge of the inner workings of city politics:

For years his native humor and waggish interruptions were a feature of the civic election campaign. Ward meetings would rock with laughter as he pilloried perspiring aldermen or school trustees with alleged derelictions of duty or even with malfeasance in office. To “Ginger” was accorded a latitude and tolerance that would probably not have been extended to any other citizen. His quick and ready wit and quaint way of putting things always “got by. ” [1]

Snook once lived in a shack located at the present location of the Ambassador Apartment Block, claiming squatter’s rights. Later in his life, he undertook the job of city scavenger, a thankless but necessary job, taking his collections to the garbage dump. In the process, he helped to build the city’s only mountain, the Saskatchewan Avenue dump.

He frequently ran for city council, always losing but, on at least one occasion, coming within 50 votes of becoming a city councillor. Long after his death, he was still remembered for his contributions to public dialogue:

No public meeting was complete without the presence of “Ginger”, who livened up every dull moment with his truculent tongue. As he knew all the foibles of the various men running for office, he furnished uproarious mirth with his sallies at the candidates on the platform. ... He had a keen eye for the failings of humanity, but was endowed with a rough, humorous philosophy and good-heartedness which made him neither unbeloved nor unrespected by his fellow citizens. [2]

Snook died at Winnipeg on 17 November 1926, at the age of 91 years, survived by two daughters, a son, and numerous grandchildren. His funeral was attended by over 150 people, including many prominent citizens. He was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.

See also:

Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8, page 92, obituary for A. R. Snook.

Sources:

1. Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 17 November 1926.

2. Manitoba Legislative Library, Vertical Biographical File, unidentified newspaper clipping.

3. “Albert Snook is 91 today,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 June 1926, page 15.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 July 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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