Memorable Manitobans: Robert John “Bob” Gourley (1878-1976)
Banker, businessman, curler.
Born near Brampton, Ontario on 20 February 1878, son of William Gourley and Mary Jane Wilson, he came to Birtle in 1879. He later worked at J. D. McArthur’s sawmill and did odd jobs for the banking firm of R. W. Gibson Company. In 1898, he moved to Wolseley, North West Territories [now Saskatchewan] where Gibson had established a small lumber business. He was its bookkeeper for three years then he became a partner in the business with brothers Ed and Robert Banbury. It eventually became Beaver Lumber. Gourley withdrew from the firm in January 1902 and opened a branch of the Union Bank of Canada at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Later that year, he was transferred to the bank’s branch at Souris. In March 1905, he went to Carberry to take over management of the Union Bank branch there.
He served as President and Manager of Beaver Lumber from 1910 to 1956, and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Toronto Dominion Bank, Monarch Life Assurance Company, and Westeel Products Company, and a member of the Canadian Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In 1902, he married Laura Lyle Bray (1881-1945) of Wolseley and they had five children: Helen Laura Gourley (1904-?, wife of Morley J. C. Lazier), Herbert Byron Gourley (1905-1988), Dorothy Grace Gourley (1906-1994), Arthur Robert Gourley (1909-1985), and Muriel Elizabeth “Beth” Gourley (1915-2010). An active curler who was described as “one of the greatest strategists in the history of curling in Canada,” he skipped a Strathcona Rink to the Macdonald Briar Canadian Curling Championship in 1931, and served as President of the Strathcona Curling Club (1915-1916) and Manitoba Curling Association (1930-1931). He was a member of the Manitoba Club and St. Charles Country Club.
He died at his winter home in La Jolla, California on 11 March 1976 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. He was inducted posthumously into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (2004).
A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.
Ontario birth registrations, Ancestry.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Builders of Greater Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 June 1931, page 33.
“Gourley dead at 98,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 March 1976, page 54.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 March 1976, page 27.
Obituary [Arthur R. Gourley], Winnipeg Free Press, 18 September 1985, page 52.
Obituary [Byron Gourley], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 April 1988, page 45.
Obituary [Grace Gourley], Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1994, page 41.
Obituary [Muriel Beth Gourley], Winnipeg Free Press, 13 March 2010.
We thank Fitz Matheson and Brenda Evans for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 November 2022