Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Forbes Alloway (1852-1930)

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William Forbes Alloway
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Banker, businessman, philanthropist.

Born in Queen’s County, Ireland on 20 August 1852, son of Captain Arthur William and Mary Alloway, brother of Charles Valentine Alloway. He was educated at Montreal High School, then came to Manitoba with the Wolseley expedition as a private, in 1870, and worked briefly as a veterinarian. Then, beginning with a tobacco store, he moved into freighting and was an active dealer in Metis scrip, from 1872 to 1877. He was a participant in the December 1878 ceremony to mark the opening of the first railway to Winnipeg.

After 1879, he became a partner with Henry T. Champion in the banking firm of Alloway and Champion, which was transferred to the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1923. Alloway was a silent partner in many business ventures, especially in the milling industry. In 1910 he was listed by the Winnipeg Telegram as one of Winnipeg’s 19 millionaires. He boasted that he had paid cash for everything throughout his life.

In 1879, he married Elizabeth Maclaren (?-?) of Buckingham, Quebec. They had no children. A member of the Manitoba Club, St. Charles Country Club, and Liberal party, his recreations included riding and driving. In 1911, he lived at 407 Assiniboine Avenue, Winnipeg. He served six years on the Winnipeg City Council and was a Governor of the Winnipeg General Hospital. His initial donation of $100,000 provided the incentive for establishment of The Winnipeg Foundation.

He died on 2 February 1930 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Alloway Avenue in Winnipeg.

See also:

All Western Dollars by Peter Lowe
MHSTransactions, Series 3, 1945-46 Season

All Within My Power: The Life of William Forbes Alloway by Tim Higgins
Manitoba History, Number 67, Winter 2012

Historic Sites of Manitoba: W. F. Alloway Building (179 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: William Forbes Alloway Statue (Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Alloway and Champion Bank Building (667 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Alloway and Champion Arch (Waterfront Drive, Winnipeg)

William Forbes Alloway, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online


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

“Bank of Commerce takes over business of Alloway and Champion,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 December 1923, page 1.

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

“Free Press Necrology Files,” Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, Box 15, File 16, University of Manitoba Archives]

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 March 2020

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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