Memorable Manitobans: William Henry “Bill” McWilliams (1860-1942)
Grain and lumber merchant.
Born at Peterborough, Ontario on 1 July 1860, son of John A. and Agnes McWilliams, he was educated at public schools then commenced a career in the grain business at Minneapolis, Minnesota, working with Elbert Walter Kneeland at the Peavey Grain Company.
He came to Winnipeg in 1902 and joined the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange. He held executive positions with the Monarch Lumber Company (Vice-President and General Manager), Winnipeg Elevator Company (President), Atlas Elevator Company (General Manager), Canadian Elevator Company (President), Empire Elevator Company (President), Thunder Bay Elevator Company (President), Canadian Consolidated Grain Company, Western Grocers Limited (Vice-President), Dominion Malting Company (Vice-President), and Grain Insurance and Guarantee Company.
In 1904, McWilliams, along with fellow grain merchants Samuel Peck Clark, Alexander Reid, John Love, and William Wallace McMillan, formed the North-West Grain Dealers’ Association. He was an early investor in the Manitoba Sugar Company and was a Director of the Royal Bank of Canada, National Trust Company, and Holt Renfrew Company.
In 1884, he married Carrie Jane Hart (1862-1921) of St. Cloud, Minnesota. They had two sons: Harry Cecil McWilliams and John C. McWilliams (1888-?). He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, Manitoba Club and St. Charles Country Club, serving as President of the latter in 1918. He was a keen golfer.
He died at his Winnipeg home, 65 Kennedy Street, on 14 June 1942 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
Death registrations [Carrie Jane McWilliams, William Henry McWilliams], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“W. McWilliams businessman, dies aged 81,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 June 1942, page 13.
“W. McWilliams dies on Sunday at age of 81,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 June 1942, page 13.
“H. C. McWilliams, lumber merchant, executive, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 April 1949, page 4.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Susan Bracken for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 February 2023