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Memorable Manitobans: Theophilus [Theopheus] John “Theodore” Watts (1864-1939)

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Theophilus John Watts
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Educator, cleric.

Born at Listowel, Ontario on 10 July 1864, the son of a Methodist Reverend John Henry Watts (1828-1910) and Elizabeth Norsworthy (1837-1932), he taught school near Walkerton, Ontario between one to two and a half years before heading west as a probationary preacher in 1890. He served Methodist Church congregations in Manitoba, at Swan Lake, Austin, Minnedosa, Snowflake Methodist Church, and Swan River, along with congregations in North Dakota at Flora, Lansford, Granville, and Rugby. After around 12 years in service, he left the ministry due to failing health and took up work as a school teacher.

On 13 January 1897, he married Jane “Jennie” Williams (1869-1921) at Brant, Ontario with his father officiating the ceremony. They had four children: Vernon Orval Watts (1898-1993), Lila Alberta Watts (1900-2000, wife of Fred Beaver), Norma Estella Watts (1907-1988, wife of George Walker), and Harold David Watts (1912-1987).

Periodically, he taught at Flowery Bank School (?-?) and St. Charles School (?-?) before joining the St. James School District No. 7 in February 1911 as Principal of St. James School / Linwood School (1911-1936) during which he was concurrently Principal of St. James Collegiate (1918-1920). He retired in June 1936 and took up extensive travelling across the continent.

He died at his Winnipeg residence, 31 Sherbrook Street, on 24 May 1939 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. Pallbearers at his funeral included Elbridge Doty Parker, John Henry Hall, William John Wallace, Arthur J. Kidd, and Thomas Wooller.


Ontario marriage registrations [Theophilus John Watts], Ancestry.

Death registrations [Theopheus John Watt], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

“Retiring teachers agree school system should be changed, disagree as to how,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 May 1936, page 18.

“Retiring members of St. James School staff honored by friends,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 June 1936, page 7.

“Former school principal dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 May 1939, page 7.

“Veteran school principal dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 May 1939, page 23.

“Many attend funeral for T. J. Watts,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 1939, page 2.

Anderson-Watts family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 18 October 2020

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