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Memorable Manitobans: Harper Wilson (1842-1914)

Civil servant, community activist.

Born at Newry, Ireland on 29 May 1842, he came to Canada with his family in 1852 and settled at St. Catharines, Ontario. He was in New York when the American Civil War broke out, and he enlisted as a private in May 1861. He was eventually promoted to the rank of Captain and served in the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war, being wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war he returned to St. Catharines and, in 1875, he married Mary Alice Smith of Glenmorris, Ontario. They had three sons: Dr. W. Harper, Perry Harper, and Sherman Harper.

He came to Winnipeg in the fall of 1881 and operated a retail fruit business until 1899 when he sold out to become fuel inspector in the city government. When the position of hay inspector was created in 1909, he received the appointment, later becoming Chief of the City Department of Weights and Measures. Active in fraternal circles, he organized Manitoba Post No. 592 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), serving as its Commander until his death, and working to arrange pensions from the American government for war veterans living in Manitoba. He was also a member of the IOOF (Minnehaha Lodge No. 7), and the AOUW.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 219 Spence Street, on 28 August 1914 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Sources:

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Winnipeg loses a valued citizen in Harper Wilson”, Winnipeg Telegram, 29 August 1914. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B6]

“Death of Captain Harper Wilson”, Manitoba Free Press, 29 August 1914.

Obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 29 August 1914.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 August 2011

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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