Memorable Manitobans: George Henry Ham (1847-1926)
Journalist, municipal official, promotor.
Born at Trenton, Ontario on 23 August 1847, he arrived in Winnipeg in 1875 and took a job as a journalist with the Manitoba Free Press. He witnessed the explosive growth of the city from a small fur trade post to a major metropolitan center. Within four years of his arrival, Ham had started his own newspaper, the Tribune (not affiliated with a later paper of the same name). In 1880, the Tribune merged with a foundering rival, the Times, and Ham became the Managing Editor of the new Winnipeg Times.
He ran the staunchly Conservative paper, which strongly favoured the government of John A. Macdonald, until it was sold in 1885 at which time he became the registrar of deeds for the County of Selkirk. In 1888, he wrote The New West, which promoted business opportunities in the many new towns of Western Canada along the Canadian Pacific Railway lines. He later returned to newspaper work until 1891 when William Van Horne enticed him to become the Advertising Manager of the CPR, based at Montreal, Quebec. He traveled extensively on behalf of the railway, crossing North America at least twice annually, visiting every state in the USA, with trips to Europe, Cuba, Mexico, and The Bahamas.
On 24 December 1870, he married Martha Helen Blow (?-?) at Shannonville, Ontario and they had five children, including Alice Mary Ham. He served on the Winnipeg City Council in the 1880s, was a Returning Officer in the 1883 provincial general election and an 1885 by-election, and was a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society. He wrote books the autobiographical Reminiscences of a Raconteur (1921) and The Miracle Man of Montreal (1922), the story of Brother Andre (1845-1937).
He died at Montreal, Quebec on 16 April 1926 and was buried in Whitby, Ontario. He is commemorated by Ham Street in Winnipeg.
“Colonel George H. Ham, veteran journalist, dead,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 April 1926, page 1.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 October 2023