Memorable Manitobans: George Raymond Ray (1869-1935)
Fur trader, MLA (1914-1915), novelist.
Born at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England on 30 November 1869, son of George Holman and Hanna Ray, he worked as an accountant in London and Africa, then served in the Royal Navy from 1888 to 1891. He immigrated to Canada in 1899 and settled at Winnipeg.
In 1901, he began working for the Hudson’s Bay Company and served as its Post Manager at Berens River (1901-1903), Churchill (1903-1906), York Factory (1906-1908), Norway House (1908-?), and Fort Alexander (?-?). In June 1911, he became District Manager based at York Factory, serving until 1914 when he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature, for the new constituency of Churchill and Nelson. A backbench supporter of the Rodmond Roblin government, he did seek re-election in the 1915 general election.
In 1920, he rejoined the HBC and was an Inspector in the Fur Trade Commissioner’s office at Winnipeg, becoming District Manager for James Bay in June 1921 until retirement in October 1927. He then worked as an agent for the Northern Traders’ Company.
On 9 March 1900, he married fellow English immigrant Maude Williams (?-?) at Winnipeg and they had four children: George Holman Ray (1901-1960), Kasba Winnifred Ray (1905-1970, wife of Howard Irwin Smith), Maude Ethel Ray (1908-1995, wife of Walter Owen “Johnny” Markham), and Albert Charles “Bert” Ray (1910-?). He wrote a play Just Craft and Skill (1911) and two novels based on his northern experiences: Kasba (White Partridge): A Story of Hudson Bay (1915) and The Land of Silence: A Novel of the Great Northland that was serialized in The Beaver (1921-1923).
He was living at Fort Good Hope, North West Territories when he developed pneumonia and was transported by airplane to Edmonton, Alberta where he died on 13 October 1935.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1915.
1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
Marriage registration [Albert Charles Ray], British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“No word on progress of mercy flight to north trading post,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 October 1935, page 21.
“George R. Ray, former M.L.A., dies in west,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 October 1935, page 17.
Obituary [George H. Ray], Winnipeg Tribune, 3 January 1961, page 52.
Obituary [Kasba Winnifred Smith], Winnipeg Free Press, 12 January 1970, page 31.
Obituary [Walter Owen Markham], Winnipeg Free Press, 7 August 1973, page 21.
Obituary [Maude Ethel Markham], British Columbia Vital Statistics.
George Raymond Ray, Hudson's Bay Company Biographical Sheet.
George R. Ray, Wikipedia.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 January 2021