Memorable Manitobans: Francis Lowell “Frank” Palmer (1906-1994)
Educator, brewery manager.
Born at the MacGregor on 15 January 1906, son of Arthur Ferrier Lowell “Louie” Palmer (1869-1950) and Ellen Maude “Nellie” Robinson (1872-1956), grandson of Arthur Palmer, he took Normal School training in the mid-1920s and graduated from the University of Manitoba (BSc 1934).
He taught at Southend School (?-?) before joining the staff of the Winnipeg School Board where he was Principal of Knowles School (1935-1937) and a teacher at Luxton School (1937-1939, 1940-1941), directing the school orchestra at the latter. In August 1940, he took a leave of absence to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Posted to Ottawa, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant around March 1943, then worked as a Link Training instructor at the Service Flying Training School No. 2 at Uplands, Ontario.
After his military discharge, he and his brother Victor Albert ”Vic” Palmer (1919-2002) operated the Norfolk Hotel on North Railway Street in MacGregor. In 1960, he moved to New Westminster, British Columbia where he was head of quality control at Labatt's Breweries. He earned an MSc degree in Microbiology from the University of Manitoba (1962). He was credited with a reformulation of their flagship “Blue” beer to make it consistent across the country. He also had a small sales company which he continued to operate for some years after his retirement from Labatt’s.
On 4 October 1931, he married Signe Margaret McGillivray (1914-?, daughter of John Simpson McGillivray) at Winnipeg. On 20 November 1948, he married Betty Diana Gray (1926-2017) and they had five children. He loved curling the playing the saxophone.
He died at Nanaimo, British Columbia on 10 December 1994.
Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Entrance to Normal text results announced by Dept.” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 July 1923, page 5.
“Students successful in tests at summer school,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 August 1926, page 18.
Marriage registration [Francis Lowell Palmer, Signe Margaret McGillivray], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Palmer - McGillivray,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 December 1931, page 8.
“Annual farewell of science grads is held Friday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 March 1934, page 28.
“501 graduates to receive Degrees and Diplomas at Manitoba ‘U’ convocation,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 May 1934, page 6.
Obituary [John Simpson McGillivray], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 1939, page 2.
“School cadet corps inspected Monday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 May 1941, page 3.
[Flying Officer and Mrs. Frank L. Palmer...], Winnipeg Tribune, 30 July 1942, page 10.
“Promoted,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 March 1943, page 14. [Flight Lieut and Mrs. F.L. Palmer...], Winnipeg Free Press, 12 June 1943, page 13.
[Photo caption, Mrs. E.A. Robinson], Winnipeg Free Press, 15 August 1945, page 19.
“Winnipeg welcomes fliers home,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 April 1946, page 22.
“The Government Liquor Control Act, 1928,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 1948, page 24.
“Pioneer farmer dies in Macgregor,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 1950, page 25.
“24 May is the big day for these U of M grads,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 1962, page 26.
“Information requested regarding [...] Mrs. Signe McKenzie - nee Signe Palmer - nee Signe M. McGillivray,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 September 1970, page 41.
Death registration [Francis Lowell Palmer], British Columbia Vital Statistics.
Obituary [Edna Grace Palmer Campbell], Winnipeg Free Press, 23 July 1998, page C6.
Obituary [Victor Palmer], Winnipeg Free Press, 22 August 2002, page C11.
Obituary [Betty Diana Palmer], Grand Forks Gazette, 9 March 2017.
Through Fields and Dreams: A History of the R.M. of North Norfolk and MacGregor, The History Book Committee of The North Norfolk-MacGregor Archives Inc.
We thank Mark Harcourt and Gordon Goldsborough for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 13 September 2022