Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Edgar Jordan Tarr (1881-1950)

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Edgar Jordan Tarr
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Insurance executive, international affairs expert.

Born at Ottawa, Ontario on 6 November 1881, son of Nicholas Stambury Tarr and Elizabeth “Bessie” Ryrie, younger brother of Stambury Ryrie Tarr, he was educated at Ottawa Collegiate and McMaster University. In 1902 he came to Manitoba on a harvest excursion and remained in Winnipeg. He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1905 and eventually became President of the Monarch Life Insurance Company. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1926. He was a Director of the Bank of Canada (replacing Robert McQueen), Industrial Development Bank, Northern Trusts Company, A. R. McNichol Limited, G. F. & J. Galt Limited, and United Corporations Limited.

He succeeded John Wesley Dafoe as President of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. As international chair of the Institute of Pacific Relations, he often represented Canada at international conferences in the post-Second World War years. In 1939, in a Winnipeg speech, he advocated a national unemployment insurance scheme and repatriation of the Constitution.

On 29 September 1908, he married Kathleen Anderson Burke (1883-1975) of Toronto. They had three children: Robert Haggart Tarr (1909-2001), Elizabeth Helen “Betsy” Tarr (1912-?, wife of Douglas Alexander McLennan), and Alan Edmund Tarr. He served as President of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg (1925-1926), and a member of the Advisory Board for The Winnipeg Foundation. He was Chairman of the Manitoba Civil Service Commission and J. W. Dafoe Foundation Committee, a member of the Winnipeg School Board, Manitoba Public Utility Board, and head of the Manitoba Pension Board. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Motor Country Club, and Masons (Assiniboine Lodge).

He died suddenly at Winnipeg on 7 November 1950 and was buried in the Little Britain Cemetery.


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Ontario marriage registration, Ancestry.

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

“Betsy Tarr becomes bride of Douglas A. MacLennan Saturday at home ceremony,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 October 1940, page 11.

“Birthdays,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 1950, page 15.

“Edgar Jordan Tarr dies of sudden heart attack,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 November 1950, page 1.

Obituary [Kathleen Anderson Tarr], Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 1975, page 30.

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

We thank David G. Ferguson for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 11 January 2021

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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