Memorable Manitobans: Robert Alexander Hoey (1883-1965)
Born at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland on 12 September 1883, son of Alexander Hoey and Jane Beatty, he came to Canada in 1909 where he attended Wesley College (Winnipeg, BA). He became an ordained minister and served at several places, including Chater Methodist Church (1918-1919). He became involved in the Manitoba farm movement and was appointed Field Secretary of the United Farmers of Manitoba in 1919. Two years later, he was elected to the House of Commons for Springfield, sitting until 1925 when he did not seek re-election.
He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for St. Clements in 1927 and was re-elected in 1932. He served as Minister of the Executive Council and Minister of Education (April 1927 to September 1936). An advocate for human eugenics, in February 1933 he introduced an amendment to the Mental Deficiency Act to allow the sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities, on the thinking this would reduce overcrowding at the Selkirk Hospital for Mental Diseases and Brandon Hospital for Mental Diseases, and reduce their cost of operation.
After his electoral defeat in 1936, he became Superintendent of Welfare and Training, Indian Affairs Branch, Department of Mines and Resources at Ottawa (December 1936 to March 1945), and Director of the Indian Affairs Branch (March 1945 to September 1948). He served on the Council for the North West Territories from 1946 to 1951.
On 7 December 1917, he married Violet Ena Brett (1893-1974, daughter of William Brett). They had no children.
He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 15 November 1965.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
Obituary [Violet Hoey], Ottawa Journal, 16 January 1974, page 46.
Hoey, R. A., Eugenics Archive, Kurbegovic, E. (2 July 2013).
We thank Oliver Bernuetz (Legislative Library of Manitoba) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 January 2021