Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Charles R. Wilkes (1825-1910)


Born at Toronto, Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1825 of English parentage, the family moved to Brantford where he was educated and entered business. In 1850 he went to California and spent several years in the gold fields, returning to Brantford where he became proprietor of the Taft Foundry, which was later amalgamated with the Waterous Engine Company. In October 1855, he married Matilda Wade, daughter of John Wade of Hamilton Gardens and aunt of Frederick C. Wade. They moved to Lambton County in 1858, established a town called Wilkesport, and erected sawmills and a grist mill.

After Wilkesport was destroyed by fire, he moved to Owen Sound, Ontario, and became a Clerk of the Division Court until 1870. He was also editor of the Owen Sound Advertiser. In 1872 he was called to the Bar in Toronto and practiced law in Owen Sound until he left for Winnipeg in 1882. He was a Liberal, and on several occasions was a candidate for Winnipeg's mayoralty. He had strong faith in the future of Winnipeg and particularly in the section south of Portage Avenue as residential prospects. He was a member of Central Congregational Church.

He died at his Winnipeg home on 9 July 1910 and was buried at Brantford. He is commemorated by Wilkes Avenue in Winnipeg.


Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Death of C. R. Wilkes,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 July 1910, page 3.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 April 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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