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Memorable Manitobans: John Mather (1827-1907)

Lumberman, business executive.

Born at Montrose, Scotland on 29 October 1827, he apprenticed with his contractor and builder father, James Mather, for several years, later working in a number of jobs until July 1857 when he was sent to Canada by a Scottish company to oversee their saw mill business on the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers. In 1879 he moved west, buying a lumber lease on Lake of the Woods and founding the Keewatin Lumbering and Manufacturing Company. The mill burned in 1906 and the company sold its business to an American firm.

In 1888, Mather organized the Lake of the Woods Milling Company along with several other prominent businessmen, including Donald A. Smith. The firm built a flour mill at Keewatin, Ontario and Mather served as its Vice-President for several years. In 1893 he became involved in the development of hydroelectric power generation on the Winnipeg River with the construction of a dam near Norman under the auspices of the Keewatin Power Company. He also served as President of the Ottawa Gold Milling and Mining and Company, which refined gold during a short-lived gold rush in the Lake of the Woods area. In 1889 he became a Director of the Manitoba Free Press Company, succeeding to its Presidency in 1893.

He and wife Jane (1824-1906) had five children: Robert Addison Mather, David L. Mather, Jane Jemima Mather (wife of James Wilson Robertson), Anne Weir Mather, and Allan Gilmour Mather.

He died at his home in Ottawa, Ontario on 10 June 1907.

See also:

John Mather, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.


“John Mather dies at his Ottawa home,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 June 1907.

We thank Jane Mather, Grace Jacobs, and James Sweet for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 November 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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