Memorable Manitobans: Ralph Humphreys Webb (1886-1945)
Born on a British liner sailing between England and India in 1886, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Webb, he was educated at Westminster (England). He came to Canada in 1902 and to Winnipeg in 1906. He operated his own lumber business until he went overseas in August 1914 as a lieutenant. He had a distinguished military career in the First World War, as a Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 47th Battalion, and lost a leg to a shell. He received the Military Cross, Order of the British Empire, Distinguished Service Order, Croix de Guerre, and King George V Jubilee Medal (1935).
On his return to Winnipeg in the 1920s, he managed the Marlborough Hotel and was noted for attempting to attract conventions to Winnipeg and for publicizing the city as a tourist destination. He was Mayor of Winnipeg from 1925 to 1927 and from 1930 to 1934. He was elected MLA in 1932 and re-elected in 1936. In 1939 he was appointed to organize the Canadian army’s catering and messing services, and he spent the Second World War in the quartermaster-general’s department at Ottawa.
In 1905, he married Maude Somerfelt (?-?) of Toronto, Ontario with whom he had three children: Gwendoline Webb (1906-?), Roland Webb (1911-?), and Phyllis Webb (1913-?, wife of Otto Pelham).
He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 1 June 1945 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Webb Place in Winnipeg and the Rawebb siding on the Wekusko Subdivision of the Hudson Bay Railway. His official portrait was painted by artist Louie Belrose Alexander.
1926 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“King to honor many Manitoba men and women,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 May 1935, page 1.
“Col. Ralph Webb dies in Ottawa,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 1945, page 1.
“Col. Webb a natural leader,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 October 1964.
We thank Oliver Bernuetz (Legislative Library of Manitoba) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 12 August 2023