Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Robert Jones Whitla (1846-1905)

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Robert Jones Whitla
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Born in County Monaghan, Ireland on 22 April 1846, son of Robert Whitla and Ann Williams, after spending some years in New York and in Eastern Canada he came to Winnipeg in 1879 and established a dry goods business on Main Street. In 1882 he formed a partnership with D. K. Elliott in wholesale trade. Although Conservative, he opposed his party on the question of disallowance in the 1880s and later in the matter of separate schools. He served as a Captain in the 90th Regiment during the 1885 North West Rebellion.

In 1874, he married Eleanor Kathleen Wright (1856-1926) in Ireland. They had two daughters: Kathleen Mary Whitla (1875-1958, wife of John Crichton Green-Armytage) and Norah Anne Whitla (1887-1961, wife of Stanley Crawford Richards). He was a charter member of the YMCA and a founder of Wesley College. He was an Orangeman and a founding member of the St. Charles Country Club. He served as President of the Winnipeg Board of Trade.

He died at Winnipeg on 1 December 1905 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. His business papers are at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Royal Bank of Canada Building (460 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: R. J. Whitla and Company Building (70 Arthur Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Telegram Building (70 Albert Street, Winnipeg)

Manitoba Business: Imperial Dry Goods Company


Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

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

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Robert Richards and Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 December 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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