Memorable Manitobans: Augustus Meredith Nanton (1860-1925)
Born at Toronto, Ontario on 7 May 1860, son of Augustus Nanton and brother of Harry W. Nanton, he was educated at the Toronto Model School. He commenced business in a Toronto real estate office in 1873, and two years later, entered the employ of Pellatt & Osler, later Osler & Hammond. He came to Winnipeg in 1884, and opened the office of Osler, Hammond and Nanton.
He held a number of positions in business: Vice-President of the Great-West Life Assurance Company, Managing Director of the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company, Director of the Dominion Bank, Director of the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company, Director of the Northern Trust Company, and Director of the Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works. In 1910 he was listed by the Winnipeg Telegram as one of Winnipeg’s 19 millionaires. After a long career in Winnipeg, he was elected President of the Dominion Bank and returned to Toronto in 1924.
His first wife Georgina Hope Hespeler (1864-1887, daughter of William Hespeler), who he married in 1886 and had daughter Mary Georgina Nanton (1887-1980, wife of Douglas L. Cameron), died due to complications of childbirth. On 17 November 1894, he married Ethel Constance Clark (1873-1942) with whom he had six children: Augustus Colborne Nanton (1895-1897), Constance Rosalie Nanton (1898-?, wife of Ernest M. Bircher), Marguerite Nanton (1900-?, wife of Arthur M. T. Eve), Edward Augustus Nanton, Paul Clark Nanton, and Augustus Harry Nanton (1906-?).
During the First World War, he was President of the Manitoba Patriotic Fund and was knighted in 1917 for his war work. During the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 he personally patrolled his grounds at Kilmorie (the Nanton home in Winnipeg) because of threats against him, and his barn at Rosser was burned down by an arsonist. He was a member of the Lakewood Country Club and Manitoba Club, and a founding member and President of the St. Charles Country Club. He served as a Governor of the Winnipeg General Hospital and President of the Winnipeg Board of Trade.
He died at Toronto, Ontario on 24 April 1925 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Nanton Boulevard in Winnipeg and, in 2014, was inducted into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
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.
The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Obituary [Mary Georgina Cameron], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 1980, page 59.
“Builder, patriot relished role,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 September 2014, page B9.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Ethel Mosley, David Nanton, and Mary DeGrow for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 October 2020