Fireman, building inspector.
Born at Orillia, Ontario on 19 January 1857, he moved with his family to Toronto in 1858, where he receive an education and, at age 14, took his first job in a lawyer’s office. He apprenticed as a carpenter, joined and builder and, in 1878, qualified as a journeyman. He came to Winnipeg in April 1879 and immediately found work with the construction firm of Paterson and McComb, remaining there for three years and assisting in the construction of Manitoba College, Duffin Block, and Dundee Block.
He became a volunteer firefighter in 1880, serving until 1882 when the city organized a paid fire department following several major fires. Rodgers was hired as Foreman (later known as Captain) of Fire Hall #3, a position that he held for 13 years. In 1895, after Chief William Code was demoted over his alleged mishandling of a fire at the newly constructed Mulvey School, he became Chief. His own downfall occurred following the February 1899 destruction by fire of the Manitoba Hotel. Faced with public criticism over a perceived lack of discipline in the force and reports of favouritism among brigade members, Rodgers resigned in August 1899 and was replaced by John E. Buchanan.
Rodger had been appointed one of the city’s first building inspectors, in 1895, and after stepping down as Fire Chief, he devoted himself to the position, holding it until 1925 when he became Chief Inspector. He introduced a number of new practices, including a requirement for a fee for building permits, which resulted in a financial windfall for the city. During his tenure as an inspector, he designed at least two civic building: a police substation in the North End, and a police patrol and signal station on Rupert Avenue.
He died at Vancouver, British Columbia on 16 January 1950, three days short of his 93rd birthday.
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Cold Storage Warehouse (151 Higgins Avenue, Winnipeg)
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
North End Police Substation (200 Charles Street), Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, May 1990.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 26 March 2023
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