Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Cooper (1858-1935)

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William Cooper
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Cabinetmaker, educator, industrial unionist, journalist.

Born at Aberdeen, Scotland on 26 September 1858, son of William and Mary Cooper, he helped to form the Aberdeen branch of the Social Democratic Foundation and served for 11 years as a member of the Aberdeen City Council. In 1907, he came to Winnipeg with his wife Annie Sangster Philip (1861-1936) and their six children, and worked as a carpenter and cabinetmaker for the Canadian Pacific Railway, later moving to the Canadian National Railway where he remained until retirement in 1928. Besides writing extensively, he conducted classes at a Workers’ University on Monday afternoons, influencing many, including James S. Woodsworth and William Ivens. He helped bring the philosophy of British industrial unionism to Canada and adapted it to Canadian conditions. In 1919 and 1920 he wrote regularly for the OBU Bulletin, producing much of its distinctive ideology. For seven years prior to his death, he wrote a column “Rails and Railroaders” for the Winnipeg Tribune. He died at his Winnipeg home, 666 Jessie Avenue, on 25 August 1935 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“W. Cooper, rail columnist in Tribune, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 August 1935, page 3.

Times of Trouble: Labour Quiescence in Winnipeg 1920-1929 by David Edward Hall, MA thesis, University of Manitoba, 1983, page 45.

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

We thank Bruce Owen for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 10 May 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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