Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Lee (1860-1921)

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Thomas Lee
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Cigar maker.

Born at Plymouth, England on 8 August 1860, son of William Lee, he emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1870 and settled at London, Ontario. There he apprenticed as a cigar maker until March 1881 when he came to Winnipeg and established his own cigar factory. He was a partner in the firm of Bryan & Lee for eleven years until 1898 when the Western Cigar Factory was established, the largest in the province at that time, and owned the Havana Cigar Syndicate Block.

He was a shareholder in the Great West Permanent Loan and Savings Company, the Sovereign Bank of Canada, the Northern Bank of Canada and other busineses, and owned several residential properties, including 340, 342, & 344 Selkirk Avenue, as well as 301 Redwood Avenue, and around 1,100 acres in rural Manitoba. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, COF, and Ancient Order of United Workmen.

In April 1881, he married Mary Elizabeth Friendship (c1860-1915) of London, Ontario and they had two children, both of whom died young. On 2 December 1918, he married Charlotte Elizabeth Read (c1869-1947) at Winnipeg and inherited a step-daughter, Laura Read Lee (?-?).

He died at his Winnipeg residence, 549 Victor Street, on 15 December 1921 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Havana Cigar Syndicate Block (187 Sutherland Avenue, Winnipeg)


Marriage and death [Mary Elizabeth Lee] registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Notice,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 September 1892, page 3.

Death notice [William John Lee], Winnipeg Tribune, 30 September 1909, page 8.

“The funeral of the late William John Lee [...],” Manitoba Free Press, 1 October 1909, page 6.

Obituary [Mary Elizabeth Lee], Winnipeg Tribune, 11 November 1915, page 10.

“Deaths,” Manitoba Free Press, 17 December 1921, page 37.

“Business man dies,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 December 1921, page 23.

“Winnipeg business men [...],” Manitoba Free Press, 19 December 1921, page 4.

Obituary [Mrs. Thomas Lee], Winnipeg Tribune, 7 August 1947, page 7.

Death notice [Elizabeth Lee], Winnipeg Free Press, 7 August 1947, page 19.

Winnipeg estate files (ATG 0025A), #39271 - Charlotte Lee, GR4875, Archives of Manitoba.

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

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 12 November 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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