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Memorable Manitobans: James Kirkcaldy (1866-1957)

Civil servant, soldier.

Born at Abdie, Scotland on 18 May 1866, son of James Kirkcaldy and Helen Brand, he came to Canada in 1891 and settled at Brandon. The following year he was appointed Chief of Police, succeeding J. R. Foster, a position that he held for thirteen years. In 1905 he quit to operate the Empire Hotel in partnership with James Smith.

He was a member of the Canadian Militia (Manitoba Dragoons) from 1907 to 1910 and Major of the 99th Manitoba Rangers in 1914. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in August 1914 serving as a Major in the 8th Winnipeg Rifles. He was wounded at the second Battle of Ypres and was invalided to Canada. He then raised the 78th Battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and took it to France in 1916, serving at The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Arras, Amiens, and Cambria. On the death of Brigadier-General McBrien, he was given Brigade Command, serving at Canal du Nord, Valenciennes, and Mons. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (2 Bars), Croix de Guerre, and the C.M.G. He returned to Canada in June 1919.

He was a Conservative candidate in the 1920 provincial general election but came in third place. In October 1923, he was appointed as Brandon City Assessor. He served as an Alderman on the Brandon City Council from 1934 to 1952, serving continuously except for one year. He was President of the Brandon Winter Fair and the Brandon Livestock Association, and Manager of the Brandon Branch of the Government Liquor Control Commission.

In 1891, he married Rose H. Perry (1866-1961) of Hythe, England. They had six children: Kathleen R. Kirkcaldy (b 1892), Archibald J. Kirkcaldy (b 1895), John A. Kirkcaldy (b 1896), Helen Kirkcaldy (b 1899), Minnie H. Kirkcaldy (b 1900), and Fred Kirkcaldy (b 1904). He was a member of the Masonic Order and the Presbyterian Church.

He died at Brandon on 8 May 1957 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery. He is commemorated by Kirkcaldy Drive in Brandon.


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

“Brig. Kirkcaldy, 91, dies in Brandon,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 May 1957, page 4.

“Military rites for Kirkcaldy,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 May 1957, page 6.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 10 April 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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