Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ronald Oliver MacFarlane (1904-1971)

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Ronald Oliver MacFarlane
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Historian, educator.

Born at Almonte, Ontario on 24 May 1904, he graduated from Harvard University then, after teaching appointments at Harvard, Radcliffe and Simmons colleges in the United States, in 1930 he became a member of the history department of the University of Manitoba. He remained on the faculty of the university until the outbreak of the Second World War and is remembered by a generation of students as an outstanding scholar and teacher. He served two terms as President of the Manitoba Historical Society, from 1934 to 1935, and again from 1938 to 1944.

After military service (he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in Canadian Intelligence in Britain), he was appointed Deputy Minister of Education for Manitoba – a position which he held until 1953, when he became the founding Director of the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton College (now Carleton University) in Ottawa, a position that he held until his death. In the late 1950s he returned to Manitoba as Chair of the Royal Commission on Education which is associated with his name.

He died at Ottawa on 13 February 1971 and was buried at Almonte, Ontario. He was survived by his widow and two children.


“To study our education set-up,” Steinbach Carillon News, 31 May 1957, page 2.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 15 February 1971, page 25.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 May 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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