Manitoba Photographers: James Penrose (1845-1918)

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James Penrose
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Born in England, Penrose came to Manitoba in 1871 and settled on a farm in the Springfield district. He soon abandoned his agricultural plans, however, and instead opened a photographic gallery in Winnipeg. In early 1873, he travelled to Portage la Prairie to take photographs there:

Mr. Penrose, the well-known and enterprising photographer, of Winnipeg, arrived here a few weeks ago with the intention of spending a short time amongst us and handing our beauties down to posterity by the aid of his magic lens. His studio has been fairly frequented whenever the weather permitted him to operate, and his likenesses have given great pleasure and satisfaction. [1]

He returned to Portage later in the fall, and may have opened a branch studio in a building belonging to J. J. Setter.

In 1874, he stood for election as an Alderman for the West Ward on the Winnipeg City Council, coming in dead last. He was subsequently elected at the civic election in December 1885 and served until 1887. He also dabbled in livestock, offering for sale “Good working oxen. Also milch cows and steers.” [2] as well as farm land. [3] His livestock interests apparently took an increasing amount of time, so he took on Harry Bowles as a partner in 1879, then sold out to him in 1880. Penrose did not work as a photographer after this point, but his studio continued as operate for a time despite Bowles’ sudden departure from Winnipeg in mid-1880.

He and wife Marion Munroe (1861-1934), daughter of Robert Munroe, had nine children: Frances Fraser Penrose (1884-?), Ethel Penrose (1886-?), Charles Bowles Penrose (1888-?), Annie Lorraine Penrose (1889-?), Robert Munroe Penrose (1891-?), James Alexander Penrose, Eliza Penrose (1895-?), Barbara Georgina Penrose (1900-?), and Helen Mae Penrose (1903-?). The family lived at 232 Bell Avenue.

After a long career as a livestock dealer and liquor inspector, Penrose died at his Winnipeg home, 232 Bell Avenue, on 16 January 1918. He is commemorated by Penrose Place in Winnipeg.

Work locations




“Next door to Ashdowns,” Winnipeg


Main Street South, Winnipeg


McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg


“Opposite Post Office,” Winnipeg


See Harry Bowles, 1880


1. Manitoba Free Press, 8 March 1873, page 8.

2. Manitoba Free Press, 22 May 1878, page 4.

3. Winnipeg Times, 15 May 1879, page 1.

Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“James Penrose died yesterday,” Manitoba Free Press, 17 January 1918.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 April 2020

Manitoba Photographers: 1858 to Present

A list of professional photographers who have worked in Manitoba, from 1858 to the present, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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Gordon Goldsborough & Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.