Memorable Manitobans: Robert Cunningham (1836-1874)
Journalist, MP (1872-1873), MP (1874).
Born at Stewarton, Ayrshire, Scotland on 12 May 1836, and educated at Glasgow College and London University. He married Annie Brown of Aberdeen in 1862. They had four children. He came to Canada in 1868 and was sent out to Manitoba in 1869 as Special Commissioner of the Toronto Globe. He was correspondent of the Toronto Telegraph in 1870. He was expelled from the settlement by Louis Riel shortly after his arrival. In the same year he became editor of the Manitoban, which he and William Coldwell established. He and Coldwell also received the appointment as Manitoba Queen’s Printer. He was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, in 1873.
In the 1872 federal general election, he was elected MP for Marquette, supported by Louis Riel. In Ottawa, Cunningham spoke consistently on behalf of the Métis community, supporting a general amnesty and the settlement of Manitoba land claims. He remained unenthusiastically with the Liberals after his re-election in 1874.
He died suddenly at St. Paul, Minnesota on 4 July 1874, on his way back to Red River. He was replaced in office by Joseph O’Connell Ryan in a by-election later that year.
His papers are at the Archives of Manitoba.
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.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 February 2022