Memorable Manitobans: Philip Thomas (1864-1950)
Pioneer, farmer, school trustee.
Born at Walch, Ontario on 27 January 1864, he came to Fort Garry with his family by steamer and oxcart in 1871. After attending the first public school in Manitoba in the Point Douglas area on Higgins Avenue, he began working on railway lines at the age of 15 and joined Donald Mann’s construction company. He was with this firm for six years and witnessed Lord Strathcona drive in the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline at Craigellachie on 7 November 1885. Several weeks later, he purchased a 200-acre homestead six miles north of Marquette, Manitoba at Meadow Lea. He stayed there until 1910 when he began to farm at Fisher Branch remaining there until 1945.
Thomas had the distinct honour of delivering 15 souvenir copies of the first issue of the daily Free Press for William Fisher Luxton. Associated with the Conservative Party and provincial politics, he worked for the Roblin government during the First World War and claimed to have shaken the hand of every premier since the province entered confederation with the exception of D. L. Campbell who was premier at the time of Thomas’ death. In 1922, he was chairman of the Progressive Party convention that nominated N. V. Bachynsky at Fisher Branch. For 60 years, he served as school trustee in the municipalities of Woodlands and Fisherton.
On 21 June 1894 at Woodlands, he married Margaret Maria Hellett (?-1910). They had nine children: Mrs. Annie Hyde, Mrs. F. H. Long, Mrs. J. A. Weir, Mrs. William Switzer, Mrs. R. S. Thompson, Mrs. William Matthews, Mrs. W. H. Wedge, Charles Thomas, and James Thomas. On 8 December 1950, he died at his daughter’s home in Winnipeg. He was buried at Fisherton Cemetery.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Delivered first Free Press oldest ex-carrier dies at 86,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 December 1950, page 26.
This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden.
Page revised: 17 August 2010
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