Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Richard Gardiner Willis (1865-1929)

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Richard Gardiner Willis
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Farmer, municipal official, MLA (1923-1927), MLA (1927-1929).

Born at Lombardy, Ontario on 10 February 1865, son of Joseph Willis and Frances Gardiner, he attended Smiths Falls High School and studied medicine at Trinity College (Toronto) but abandoned the latter due to ill health. He came to Manitoba in 1881 and worked for the Massey-Harris Company, later farming in the vicinity of Boissevain.

On 18 January 1891, he married Ella French (1870-?, daughter of Henry French of Boissevain) and they had two sons: Trevor Gardiner Willis (1894-1945) and Errick French Willis. He served as Reeve of the Rural Municipality of Morton, Mayor of Boissevain, and President of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities.

Defeated as a Conservative candidate for Turtle Mountain in the 1920 provincial general election, he then ran unsuccessfully for the Souris riding in the 1921 federal general election. He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature in the 1922 general election, defeating Fawcett W. Ransom, and was re-elected in 1927. He was a Conservative, Anglican, Mason, and Odd Fellow.

He died at his Winnipeg home, while still in office, on 24 February 1929 and was buried in the Boissevain Cemetery.


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“R. G. Willis succumbs to lengthy illness,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 February 1929, page 1.

“Province loses worthy member in R. G. Willis,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 February 1929. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B8]

“Many attend funeral service for R. G. Willis,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 February 1929, page 2.

“T. G. Willis, former federal auditor, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 December 1945, page 5.

Pioneers of Manitoba by Robert Harvey (1970).

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 April 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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