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Memorable Manitobans: Herbert Swinford (1849-1932)

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Herbert Swinford
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Accountant, soldier.

Born at London, England on 7 November 1849, son of Henry Herbert and Ann Ellen Swinford, he came to Canada as a boy. He was educated at the high school in Guelph, Ontario then, as of 1871, worked in the transportation business all over Western Canada before the railroads were built. He later entered the service of the Northern Pacific Railway at Winnipeg, rising to an accountancy position in 1909.

He had a long and distinguished record with Canadian militia, having joined the Home Guard for Guelph, Ontario at the time of the Fenian Raids in 1866. He joined the 30th Wellington Rifles as a private in 1868, becoming ensign in 1870. He was assistant adjutant and drill instructor at the outbreak of the North West Rebellion in 1870, when he resigned his commission to join the Red River Expeditionary Force as a sergeant. He served as a lieutenant under Captain Donald Alexander Smith with the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Volunteers in the Fenian Raid on Pembina in 1871. He retired with the rank of honourary captain. On organization of the 90th Regiment at Winnipeg in 1883, he served as quartermaster/paymaster from 1888 to 1900, chief supply, commissariat and transport officer in the North-West Field Force under Frederick Dobson Middleton in the 1885 North West Rebellion (specially mentioned in dispatches), and retiring with the rank of Major in 1900. His brother Charles Swinford died as a result of wounds suffered during the Rebellion and is commemorated by the Volunteer Monument in Winnipeg. In 1907, Swinford organized the Army Service Corps at Winnipeg with the rank of Major.

He was married twice, first to Mary Ann Linklater (1855-1890, daughter of Magnus Linklater) with whom he had two children: Florence Isabel Swinford (1874-1967, wife of Charles Durie Corbould) and Arthur Kidnery Swinford (1877-?). By the time of the 1901 census, he was married to Georgina MacDonnell (1853-?). He was a member of the Vancouver Club and AF & AM. In 1911, he lived at 1175 Haro Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. He returned to Winnipeg in September 1931 and lived with his daughter.

He died at the Misericordia Hospital on 13 June 1932 and was buried in the St. John's Cathedral Cemetery. A collection of photographs that he took during his early residence in Manitoba is held at the Archives of Manitoba (C183).


Birth registrations [Florence Isabella Jane Swinford, Arthur Kidnery Swinford], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Death registration [Mary Ann Swinford], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Death of Mrs. Swinford,” Manitoba Free Press, 4 October 1890, page 8.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

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.

“Col. H. Swinford, pioneer resident of Winnipeg, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 1932.

“Deaths and funerals,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 June 1932, page 16.

Obituary [Florence Isabel Corbould], Winnipeg Free Press, 26 July 1967, page 37.

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We thank David Swinford for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 May 2023

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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