Memorable Manitobans: William Walter Wardrop (1854-1942)
Born at Paris, Ontario on 27 August 1854, son of John Wardrop and Janet Barr, his mother died when he was three weeks old and he was raised by his paternal grandmother, Mary Wardrop, at Port Elgin, Ontario. He came to Manitoba around 1882 and was first employed by the Dan Mann Tie Company of Whitemouth. He later joined the D. A. Ross Company staff as a “Bush Foreman.” This involved “stream driving,” when the cut logs were floated down the Winnipeg River in the spring log drive to the sawmill. As a show of confidence to other company workers, he was the first volunteer to be vaccinated by Dr. Charlotte Ross with the newly developed smallpox vaccine.
Around 1896 he moved to Lac du Bonnet where he became General Manager of the Lac du Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Company Limited. He later hauled the equipment for the new brickyard on a winter road from Shelly, located on the Canadian Pacific Railway. At that time, Lac du Bonnet was locally referred to as Eureka, because of the mining potential in the Winnipeg and Bird River areas. In 1899 he built two boarding houses and a store that was managed by W. D. Halliday. From 1900 to 1901 he became the first postmaster for “Lac du Bonnet,” a name first used by La Vérendrye in the 1700s, for a wide spot in the Winnipeg River seven kilometres north of the settlement. He also had a contract to deliver mail to St. Georges and Fort Alexander, using a canoe in summer and a dogsled in winter.
On 3 March 1877, he married Sarah Jane McCleod (1859-1926). They had eleven children: William Wardrop, John Wardrop (1879-?), Walter Henry Wardop (1881-?), Robert Hugh Wardrop (1885-?), David Malcolm Wardrop, unnamed son, Arthur E. Wardrop (c1890-1898), Richard James Wardrop (1894-?), Mace Clifford Wardrop (1897-?), Albert Edgar Wardrop (1900-?), and William Daniel Wardrop (1903-?).
In January 1901, having disposed of his interests in Lac du Bonnet, he moved his family to Sparwood, British Columbia, where he operated a large lumber mill to supply local mines and a “first-class tie making plant.” He disposed of his interests following a fire and, on 16 June 1905, moved back to Whitemouth where he built a home west of town. At this time J. D. McArthur had contracted to build the Transcontinental Railway from Winnipeg to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) where Wardrop built a number of the railway trestle bridges and several miles of rail grade. In 1924 he moved to the family farm in the Crescent Bay area, north of Lac du Bonnet which was flooded out in 1954 by construction of the McArthur Falls hydroelectric project.
He died on 5 March 1942. He is commemorated by a plaque in Lac du Bonnet.
Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“William Henry Cousins,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 March 1942, page 2.
Wardrop Commemorative Plaque, Town of Lac du Bonnet.
We thank Brenda Wardrop Miller for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 May 2017
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