Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Robert Spear (1864-1941)


Born at Stanwood, Iowa on 28 December 1864, he came to Canada in 1892 and founded Western Gypsum Products Limited in 1929. He and wife Christina Isabel McKinnon (1868-1951) had five children: Robert Elmer Spear (1894-1953), Grace Anna Spear (1896-1947), Roderick Arthur Spear (1900-1938), John Edward Spear, and Alice Beatrice Spear (1908-1961, wife of Frank Beaven). He was a member of Augustine United Church, IOOF, and Knights of Pythias. He died at the Winnipeg General Hospital on 13 July 1941 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. He is commemorated by the community of Spearhill, near which he quarried limestone, and the steamboat J. R. Spear.


1901 and 1906 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“J. R. Spear dies, aged 76,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 July 1941, page 14.

Obituary [Christina Isabel Spear], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 November 1951, page 28.

Obituary [Robert E. Spear], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 March 1953, page 39.

“Gypsum firm president dies at 52,”  Winnipeg Free Press, 13 January 1955, page 11.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

Geographic Names of Manitoba, Manitoba Conservation, 2000.

We thank Linda Spear for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 28 November 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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