Memorable Manitobans: Edward Phillip “E. P.” Leacock (1853-1927)
Real estate speculator, confidence man, MLA (1879-1883), MLA (1883-1886), MLA (1886-1888).
Born on the Isle of Wight on 28 December 1853, he was the uncle of author and humorist Stephen Leacock, who later immortalized him in the 1942 essay My Remarkable Uncle. Educated at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, graduating in 1873, Leacock came to Canada in 1878. He acquired some connection with former Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Morris and arrived in Winnipeg in June 1879.
From the beginning, Leacock was a promoter par excellence, a director and officer of the Westbourne and North West Railway Company, Manitoba Drainage Company, and Canadian Pacific Express Company. He was also a founding member and secretary of the Selkirk Club. He constructed a large 23-room brick home on a river lot in Kildonan. The home later became the basis for Marymound School.
On 5 August 1881, he married Georgina Eliza Vickers (?-?), eldest daughter of John J. Vickers of Toronto, and granddaughter of Susanna Moodie. They had three children: Thomas Murdoch Leacock (1882-?), Ella Mary Moodie Leacock (1884-?), and Agnes Mary Leacock (1886-?). He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Selkirk Club, and Rideau Club (Ottawa). In 1883, he published Hudson’s Bay Route: A Lecture.
After an electoral defeat in a 1881 provincial by-election, Leacock entered politics in 1882 as a Conservative at Birtle, where he subsequently built another house known as “the Castle.” Re-elected in the 1883 and 1886 general elections, he served as chair of the caucus, but in 1887 broke ranks with the Norquay government, and he did not run in the election of 1888. He served as central organizer (with C. A. Burrows) for the Tories in the 1891 federal election. He was under a financial cloud for many years, and he returned to England in 1894, where he resided in Maldon as “Colonel Leacock,” a retired colonel of the North West Mounted Police. He died there in April 1927.
Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Leacock—At Birtle on the the 17th, inst. the wife of E. P. Leacock, Esq., M.P.P. of a daughter,” Birtle Observer, 18 June 1886.
A Political Manual of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by J. P. Robertson, Winnipeg: Call Printing Company, 1887.
“The battled opened,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 January 1888, page 1.
“Pioneer of Manitoba is dead in England,” Manitoba Free Press, 3 May 1927, page 4. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]
“Early pioneer of Manitoba is dead in Britain,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 May 1927, page 5.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Nathan Hasselstrom for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 20 July 2019