Memorable Manitobans: Rodmond Palen Roblin (1853-1937)

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Rodmond Palen Roblin
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Businessman, MLA (1888), MLA (1888-1892), MLA (1896-1899), MLA (1900-1903), MLA (1903-1907), MLA (1908-1910), MLA (1911-1914), MLA (1914-1915), Premier of Manitoba (1900-1915).

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Rodmond Palen Roblin
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Born at Sophiasburg, Prince Edward County, Ontario on 15 February 1853, son of James Platt Roblin and Deborah R. Roblin, he was educated at Albert College (Belleville, Ontario). He worked as a cheese buyer and, in 1877, he moved to Winnipeg. He then moved to Carman where he operated a general store from 1880 to 1886. He served as Reeve of the Rural Municipality of North Dufferin for three years, as well as a warden for two years, and a school trustee. Active in the early grain trade, he was a founding shareholder of the Northern Elevator Company (1893). In 1897, he was a founding director of the Dominion Elevator Company and its first President (1897-1900).

He unsuccessfully contested Dufferin North for the provincial legislature in 1886. Elected at a March 1888 by-election, he was acclaimed as an Independent for Dufferin in the 1888 general election, and in 1892 he ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative for the Morden seat. In 1896 he was elected as Conservative member for Woodlands, re-elected in 1899, and he was soon chosen leader of the party. Roblin became Premier in October 1900, re-elected in 1903, 1907, 1910, and 1914, serving until his resignation in 1915 in the midst of a corruption scandal over the construction of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

He promoted the grain trade and railway construction, and introduced the first government-owned telephone system in North America. Manitoba extended its boundary and doubled its territory in 1912 under his premiership. He was made knight commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1912. After leaving politics, he established Consolidated Motors, an automobile dealership, with his sons. He remained active in the business into his 80s.

He was married twice, first on 13 September 1875 to Adelaide DeMille (1853-1928) with whom he had five sons: Frederick Roblin (c1876-?), Wilfrid Laurier “Fred” Roblin, Arthur Beltram Roblin (1885-1954), George Aubrey Roblin, and Charles Dufferin Roblin (1892-1973; father of Dufferin Roblin). On 5 February 1929, after the death of his first wife, he married Ethel May Leggett (1879-1962) at Los Angeles, California. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Carleton Club, Adanac Club, and Hunt Club.

He died at Hot Springs, Arkansas on 16 February 1937 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. He is commemorated by Roblin Boulevard in Winnipeg, Town of Roblin, Rural Municipality of Roblin, and Municipality of Roblin. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Rodmond Roblin House (RM of Dufferin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Agricultural College / Asper Jewish Community Campus (123 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Adelaide Block (103-111 Osborne Street, Winnipeg)

Thirty-Five Years in the Limelight: Sir Rodmond P. Roblin and His Times by Hugh Robert Ross (1936).

“Rodmond P. Roblin, 1900-1915 ” by Jim Blanchard in Manitoba Premiers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2010.

Sir Rodmond Palen Roblin by Jim Blanchard, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

MHS Resources: Manitoba Bricks and Blocks: People


A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

“Sir Rodmond Roblin and Miss Ethel Leggett are married at Los Angeles,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 February 1929. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]

“Victim of heart seizure,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1937. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]

“Ethel Roblin dies at 83,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 December 1962, page 19.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 November 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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