Memorable Manitobans: Christopher James “Chris” Vickers (1901-1994)
Farmer, editor, writer, naturalist, anthropologist, archaeologist, historian, ecologist.
Born at Edinburgh, Scotland on 18 June 1901, son of Christopher Vickers (1873-1955) and Janet Vickers (1875-1946), he came to Canada with his parents and brother to settle in the Greenway area in 1910. After completing grade 11 at Baldur School, his hopes of attending university were dashed when his father became ill and he was forced to return to work the family farm. On 29 December 1924, he married Jeanetta Margaret “Nettie” Parsonage (1897-1991) and farmed at Baldur until 1928, when they moved into town. Soon after, he was sent by the Manitoba Wheat Pool to work for the Nebraska Wheat Pool in Omaha where he first came in contact with archaeologists, piquing a childhood interest and leading to a lifelong passion for the subject.
Vickers returned to Baldur in 1931, where he worked as secretary of the local school district and municipal land assessor. This gave him the opportunity to search for archaeological materials while visiting area farms. From 1941 to 1951, he excavated thirteen sites in the vicinities of Rock and Pelican lakes with the help of his wife, son, and three daughters. Working under the auspices of, and receiving financial assistance from, the Manitoba Historical Society, he catalogued the materials he found and wrote annual reports and numerous papers for the professional and popular media.
In September 1952, he accepted a position as Provincial Editor for the Winnipeg Free Press, necessitating a move to Winnipeg, where he continued to promote the field of archaeology while managing a network of 400 stringers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and northwest Ontario. He was responsible for preparing three annual crop reports covering the whole of western Canada, for which he traveled extensively. For nine years, he wrote a book review column entitled “By The Way.” He retired from the newspaper in February 1968.
Sometimes described as the “Father of Manitoba Archaeology,” Vickers was the first President of the Manitoba Archaeological Society, formed in 1961. He was a founding board member for the Manitoba Centennial Corporation (1963). He was awarded a Margaret McWilliams Medal (1969) and a Manitoba Centennial Medal (1970) by the Manitoba Historical Society.
He died at Winnipeg on 9 September 1994. A major part of his personal artifact collection was donated to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba.
His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“These Manitobans will help plan centennial,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1963, page 9.
“Archaeologist Vickers honored,” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 1968.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1994, page C7.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 March 2023