Memorable Manitobans: Alfred “Fred” Babb (1869-1947)
Born at Mitchell, Ontario on 17 February 1869, son of Thomas Babb and Ellen Small, he was educated at Mitchell and London. He began working in the hardware business while at London, for the hardware firm of Hobbs and Company, before moving in 1894 to Rat Portage (now Kenora, Ontario) where he worked for the Robinson Hardware firm. On 20 December 1894, he married Caroline Sophia Chambers (1870-1944) of London and they moved to Winnipeg in 1898 where he was a salesman for the J. H. Ashdown Hardware Company. In 1900, he moved to Portage la Prairie and established his own hardware store, initially under the name of Babb and Kirkland in partnership with G. K. Kirkland. He later bought out his partner and the business became Babb Hardware. He retired in February 1945. Active in community affairs, Babb served on the Portage Parks Board for 30 years and was its Chairman for nearly 25 years. Under his guidance, Island Park was developed into one of the best-known bird and game sanctuaries in Canada. He was a school trustee and a member of the board for the Portage General Hospital. He was a member of Portage Board of Trade, Masons (Assiniboine Lodge No. 7), and Grace Methodist Church, where he sang in the choir. In 1915, he was a founding member of the Portage Country Club at Delta Marsh, where it was said that he had not missed an opening day for duck shooting season in 40 years. He was an active golfer and curler. After his wife’s death, he married registered nurse Edith Marguerita Johnston (1900-1953). He died due to complications from diabetes while visiting Vancouver, British Columbia on 5 January 1947. He left no children and was buried alongside his first wife in Portage’s Hillside Cemetery.
Birth registration [Marguerita Johnston], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Obituary [Mrs. Alfred Babb], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 November 1944, page 4.
Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“Portage hardware merchant dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 January 1947, page 4.
“Alfred Babb, retired merchant dies at Vancouver Saturday,” Portage la Prairie Leader, 9 January 1947, page 4.
“Alfred Babb retired merchant laid to rest,” Portage la Prairie Leader, 16 January 1947, page 5.
“Motion to nominate,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 January 1947, page 10.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 29 December 2019