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Memorable Manitobans: William Robert Smith (c1795-1869)

Clerk, farmer, teacher, municipal official.

Born in England about 1792, the son of William Smith, he received his early education at Christ’s Hospital in London. In 1813, he came to Rupert’s Land as an apprentice clerk with the Hudson’s Bay Company. After serving with the HBC at Oxford House (1813), Ile­a-la-Crosse (1814), Lac la Biche and Lesser Slave Lake (1815­1823), and Norway House (1824), he retired and took up residence at Little Britain where he farmed. He was married twice, first to Mary Anne Swain (1805-1850), daughter of James Swain, on 12 July 1825, and had twelve children. Following his first wife’s death, he married Ann Omand (1833-1912) circa 1851 and had nine more children, including T. V. P. Smith.

Under the patronage and auspices of the Church Missionary Society he taught school at St. John’s from 1828 to 1832, and at St. Paul’s from 1832 to 1848. In 1848 he was invested with the offices of clerk of Court and Council. In 1849 he compiled the Red River census. In 1867, ill health forced his retirement as clerk of the Council of Assiniboia but, later that year, he was appointed President of one of the petty courts. For a number of years he also served as a collector of customs at Lower Fort Garry.

He died at Headingley on 14 May 1869.


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

William Robert Smith, HBC Biographical Sheets.

We thank Lynne Bootes for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 January 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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