Memorable Manitobans: James Armstrong Richardson (1885-1939)
Grain merchant, aviation pioneer.
Born at Kingston, Ontario on 21 August 1885, son of George Algernon Richardson and Agnes McCausland, he was educated at Hillcrest Academy and Queen’s University. In 1906, he became employed with the family firm, James Richardson & Sons, at Kingston then took charge of the Toronto office, running it from 1907 to 1912, when he came to Winnipeg as Vice-President in charge of western branches, a position he held until 1918. That year, he became associated with the Allied Wheat Commission and at the joint request of the buyer for the Allied government and the Eastern Canadian mills, he took charge of wheat distribution to the 284 flour mills in Eastern Canada. He was also asked to become Vice-President of the Wheat Export Company, Ltd., as second in command of the purchasing and forwarding of grain products for the allied governments in Canada.
In 1919, he became President and General Manager of James Richardson & Sons. He was a member of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange (and its President in 1923-1924), Calgary Grain Exchange, Toronto Board of Trade, Montreal Board of Trade, Chicago Board of Trade, and New York Produce Exchange. He was a Director of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, President of the Eastern Terminal Elevator Company, President of the Pioneer Grain Company, President of the Anchor Elevator Company, Vice-President of the Great Lakes Transportation Company, Vice-President of the Guardian Realty Company of Canada, Director of the Valley Camp Coal Company (Cleveland, Ohio), Director of the Kingston, Portsmouth & Cataraqui Electric Railway Company, Director of the Great-West Life Assurance Company (1928-1939), and a member of the Canadian National Council for the Blind. In 1926 he helped found Western Canada Airways, a pioneer enterprise in northern flying, and in 1929 merged it with other operations into Canadian Airways Ltd. (of which he was President).
On 21 May 1919, he married Muriel Sprague of Belleville, Ontario and they had four children: George Taylor Richardson, James Armstrong Richardson, Agnes McCausland Richardson Benidickson, and Kathleen Margaret Richardson. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, St. Charles Country Club, Pine Ridge Golf Club (Winnipeg), University Club (Toronto), Canadian Club (New York), Frontenac Club (Kingston), and Winnipeg Squash and Racquet Club.
He died of a heart attack at his Winnipeg home, 475 Wellington Crescent, on 26 June 1939. He was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by a plaque in Lac du Bonnet and an airport in Winnipeg. He was inducted posthumously into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame (2013).
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Grain magnate of west still is a young man,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 August 1934, page 45.
“James Richardson fatally stricken,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 June 1939, page 1.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 26 December 2021