Memorable Manitobans: William Merton Neal (1886-1961)
Born at Toronto, Ontario on 20 June 1886, he was educated at Toronto public schools. He started his railroad career at the age of 16 with the Canadian Pacific Railway. He came to Winnipeg in September 1904, spending a brief period at Souris in 1908, serving in the General Superintendent’s Office and Car Service Department. He was made Acting Superintendent of Car Service at Montreal in May 1915. During the First World War, he was seconded to the federal government in charge of coordinating rail movement of troops and supplies to the seaboard.
He returned to the CPR in February 1920 as Assistant General Superintendent at Montreal. He was made General Superintendent of the Algoma District in July 1922, Assistant to the Vice-President at Montreal in March 1924; General Manager of Western Lines in November 1927; Vice-President of Western Lines in September 1934; and Vice-President and Director from 1942. He was the President of the CPR from 1947 to 1948. He held Directorships in many companies including Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway and Alberta Railways. He retired in 1948 due to ill health.
On 23 April 1910, he married Frances Jean Scott (1887-1988) at Renfrew, Ontario and they had three children: William Scott Neal, Elizabeth Isobel “Betty” Neal (wife of Paul K. Tisdale), and Francis John “Jack” Neal (1921-1943). While living in Winnipeg, he was a member of the Manitoba Club, St. Charles Country Club, Motor Country Club, and Winnipeg Winter Club. The family resided at 251 Harvard Avenue.
He died at his Longbow Lake, Ontario summer home on 19 October 1961 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
“Men of Winnipeg in Diamond Jubilee Sketches,” Winnipeg Free Press, December 1934. [University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, Box 15, File 8]
Second World War Service Files - War Dead, Library and Archives Canada.
“Tisdale-Neal wedding vows are exchanged in Montreal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 1945, page 10.
“Birth - Tisdale,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 1946, page 16.
“More trade means less mistrust - Neal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 May 1959, page 3.
“William Martin Neal,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 October 1961, page 36.
Obituary [Frances Jean Neal], Winnipeg Free Press, 17 August 1988, page 39.
FindAGrave, Elmwood Cemetery.
Rouble & Kenopic family tree, Ancestry.
We thank William J. Neal for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 31 March 2017
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