Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Claude Malcolm Isbister (1914-1996)

Civil servant.

Born at Winnipeg on 15 January 1914, son of lawyer Claude Isbister and Margaret Ethel McKechnie, grandson of John McKechnie, he attended Kelvin High School in Winnipeg. At the University of Manitoba where he graduated in mathematics, he was involved in campus politics, debating and undergraduate journalism. He later attended the University of Toronto where he studied economics, and Harvard, where he obtained a doctoral degree.

After working in the Montreal office of the Sun Life and at several teaching posts, he moved to Ottawa and became Assistant Dominion Statistician. He was later named Director of the Commercial Relations and Foreign Tariffs Division. During his career as a civil servant, he worked closely with Right Honourable C. D. Howe on emergency import controls and attended the fourth session of the contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade held in Geneva.

Later administrative posts he held included Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance, Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Deputy Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys, and Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. From 1970 to 1975, he was an Executive Director of the the World Bank, based at Washington, DC. From 1975 until the mid-1980s, he consulted widely on issues of international economic development and natural resource development.

A man who enjoyed swimming, golf, and carpentry, he married Ruth Cunningham of Toronto. They had three children: John, Alex, and Kathryn.

He died in 1996.


Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1916 Canada census, Ancestry.

“Claude Isbister,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 August 1950. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 150]

We thank John Isbister for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 October 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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