Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Hugh Kirkwood Rankine (1913-1998)

Tartan designer.

Born at Winnipeg on 13 April 1913, he became interested in Scottish tartans while convalescing in Scotland from wounds sustained during his service with the Royal Canadian Artillery from 1939 to 1945. Returning to Canada after the war, he resumed his job with the post office, eventually retiring in 1974. With help from his weaving instructor wife, Dorothy, he designed the distinctive Manitoba Tartan in 1956, for which he was awarded a Manitoba Centennial Medal by the Manitoba Historical Society in 1970.

Known officially as the “Manitoba Hunting Tartan”, its colours are said to encapsulate the history of Manitoba: blue bands for Lord Selkirk; dark red squares for the buildings of the Red River Settlement; green squares for the province’s agricultural land, forests and minerals; azure blue lines for the Red, Assiniboine and other provincial rivers; and gold lines for our grain crops. The design was approved by the guardian of Scottish heraldry. It became the official tartan of Manitoba in May 1962, in time for the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers.

Rankine died at Winnipeg on 8 February 1998 and was buried in Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.


“’Father’ Rankine justly proud of tartan” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 1962.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 27 February 1998.

“Letter carrier designed tartan” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 March 1998.

Page revised: 20 February 2011

Memorable Manitobans

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