Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 141 years


Pay & Donate in the MHS Online Shop

Endangered Top 10
LG History

Fundraising Dinner 2020

Endangered Top 10
Top 10

Jens Munk at Churchill
Field Trip:

Manitoba History No. 90

No. 90

Memorable Manitobans of 2019
of 2019

War Memorials in Manitoba
in Manitoba

This Old Elevator
This Old

Abandoned Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans

Historic Sites of Manitoba
Historic Sites
of Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans: John W. Niddrie (1863-1940)


Born near Oban, Scotland on 22 September 1863 to strictly Calvinist parents. After arriving in Canada in 1884, he was ordained in 1915 and was stationed at the McDougall Mission in Morley, Alberta from 1889 to 1909. In Manitoba, he worked at Oxford House from 1910 to 1915 and Island Lake from 1915 to 1920. He then ministered at Berens River until his retirement in 1938. Niddrie died at Berens River on 4 May 1940 and was buried in the community.

Niddrie was fortunate to arrive in Berens River at a time of positive feelings toward the Methodist mission, succeeding the popular Percy Earl Jones. He built lasting ties on this stability, finding much support in Chief William Berens and his family. For most of his time at Berens River his Catholic counterpart was Brother Frederick Leach who, with Father Joseph De Grandpré, opened the Catholic mission and day school in the community in 1918. Members of the community, most of whom, to the chagrin of Niddrie and Leach, attended services at both churches on Sundays found much amusement from the rivalry between the two missionaries.

Throughout Niddrie’s tenure church membership steadily rose, moving from eighty-five to 158. He devoted all of his energies to mission life. Decades later many elders remembered his generosity and compassion, his huge vegetable garden, the suppers he would make for the lads who helped with weeding and the harvesting of food, and the organ lessons he gave to boys who grew up to be fine musicians. His sister, Annie, came to Berens River for a visit in 1927 and she, too, felt such supportive ties with the people that she remained as Niddrie’s housekeeper for thirty years. The fact that Niddrie lived out his days at Berens River speaks to his deep devotion to that community.

His personal papers are held by the United Church Archives (Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario).

More information:

Biographical file of John W. Niddrie, Victoria University Archives, Toronto.

Niddrie of the North-West by John W. Niddrie, edited by John W. Chalmers. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press (2000).

“I Will Fear No Evil”: Ojibwa-Missionary Encounters With Christianity Along the Berens River, 1875-1940 by Susan Elaine Gray. Calgary: University of Calgary Press (2006).

“‘They Fought Just like a Cat and a Dog!’: Oblate-Methodist Relations at Berens River, Manitoba, 1920-1940” by Susan Elaine Gray. Prairie Forum, pp. 51-64, 24, 1 (Fall 1999).


This profile was prepared by Susan Elaine Gray.

Page revised: 19 June 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

Search the collection by word or phrase, name, place, occupation or other text:

Custom Search

Browse surnames beginning with:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z | 2017

Send corrections and additions to the Memorable Manitobans Administrator at

Criteria for Memorable Manitobans | Suggest a Memorable Manitoban  | Our Inspiration | Acknowledgements

Support the MHS and

Back to top of page


To report an error on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations Policy

© 1998-2020 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.