William Walter Wardrop was born on 27 August 1854, in Paris, Ontario, the son of John Wardrop, a cotton (hand loom) weaver and wife Janet Barr. His mother died when he was three weeks old and he was raised by his grandmother, Mary Wardrop, in Port Elgin, Ontario. On 3 March 1877, he married Sarah Jane McLeod. Walter came west to Manitoba between 1882 and 1883, and later was followed by his wife and their children. 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 the spring log drive to the sawmill. As a show of confidence to other company workers, Walter was the first to volunteer to be vaccinated by Dr. Charlotte Ross (the first woman doctor in Manitoba) with the newly developed smallpox vaccine.
Around 1896, Wardrop 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, Walter Wardrop became the first postmaster for “Lac du Bonnet”, a name first used by the explorer La Verendrye 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. George and Fort Alexander, using a canoe in the summer and a dogsled in the winter.
In January of 1901, having disposed of his interests in Lac du Bonnet, Wardrop moved his family to Sparwood, British Columbia. Here he operated a large lumber mill to supply the mines in the area from his “first class tie making plant”. Following a previous disastrous fire, he disposed of his properties 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 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 the construction of the McArthur Falls Hydro Electric project. Wardrop died on 5 March 1942, short of 89 years of age. Sarah, his wife, predeceased him on 5 November 1927, “Wardrop Creek” passed through the original property.
Wardrop Commemorative Plaque (August 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough
Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.26187, W96.05382
denoted by symbol on the map above
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Inter-West Fuel and Peat Company (Lac du Bonnet)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lac du Bonnet Brick Plant (Lac du Bonnet)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lac du Bonnet Sawmill (Lac du Bonnet)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: John Duncan McArthur Commemorative Plaque (Lac du Bonnet)
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Alex McIntosh Commemorative Plaque (Lac du Bonnet)
Memorable Manitobans: William Walter Wardrop (1854-1942)
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 January 2021
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