Birtle’s Notable People
Birtle can lay claim to fame to some notable individuals, many of whom got their start in Birtle and went on to become highly successful and accomplished in their fields, making outstanding contributions to society.
Fulton, Dr. Ethel Margaret (Peggy) (1922-2014) Dr. Margaret Fulton was born in Birtle, where she grew up and graduated from high school. She went on to become a distinguished educator in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. She served as the Dean of Women at UBC and University President of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.
Dr. Fulton was also involved in many social causes and served as Vice-Chair of the Women’s World Summit Foundation in Geneva. She received many honorary degrees as well as the Governor General’s Persons Award and was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Fulton, Lockhart Ross (1917-2015) Born and raised in Birtle and brother of Margaret Fulton. Acting Major of the 1st Battallion, Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the Second World War. On D-Day, June 6, 1944 he was given command of D Company and led the initial assault on Juno Beach. He also led his men in the freeing of two French towns under German siege. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Order of Canada.
Lt. Col. L. R. Fulton, here receiving the Distinguished Service Order from Field Marshall Montgomery, Ghent, Belgium, 5 Nov 1944.
Photo by Donald I. Grant. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-168229.
Fulton, Marion Tye (1921-2013) Came to Birtle as a War bride and nurse. She went on to become President of the Federated Women’s Institute of Canada and Vice-President of the Associated Country Women of the World. Inducted into the Order of Canada and Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame for her community service. She went on to receive several Queen Elizabeth Jubilee medals over the years.
Gourley, Robert J. (1878-1976) Came to Birtle as a child with his family in 1879. Worked at J.D. McArthur’s sawmill as a young boy and later for R.W. Gibson’s Bank in Birtle. Opened a branch of the Union Bank of Canada at Fort Saskatchewan. Gourley went on to become President of Beaver Lumber for 60 years. Sat on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Dominion Bank, Monarch Life Assurance Company, Weststeel Products Company. Won the Canadian Curling Championship in 1931.
Herchmer, Lawrence (1840-1915) Began his career in Birtle as Indian Agent and Farm Instructor. Went on to become Inspector of Indian Agencies for the North West Territories. He later became Commissioner of the North West Mounted Police, precursor of the R.C.M.P. Herchmer was instrumental in transforming the R.C.M.P. from a frontier military force into the law enforcement body it is today, introduced the Mountie’s wide brimmed hat and musical ride.
Larcombe, Samuel (1852-1937) Gifted horticulturalist, he grew a rust-resistant strain of wheat called the Axminster. Won the World’s championship for his wheat as well as 26 other prizes. Inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame. Became one of Manitoba’s many “Wheat Kings”.
Leacock, Edward Philip (1853-1927) M.L.A. for Birtle Constituency from1882-1886, influential in bringing the railroad to Birtle, built two large stately homes, “The Castle” in Birtle and what is now Marymound, in Winnipeg on the banks of the Red River. Before coming to Birtle he was a director and office of the Westbourne and North West Railway Company, Canadian Pacific Express Company, and the Manitoba Drainage Company. He published Hudson’s Bay Route: A Lecture. Leacock’s life is chronicled in an essay entitled “My Remarkable Uncle” written by his uncle, Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock.
Malcolm, George (1865-1930) M.L.A. for Birtle Constituency from 1909-1922. Malcolm was Minister of Agriculture in Norris’s cabinet from1920-1922.
McArthur, John Duncan (1854-1927) McArthur took over the running of the Birtle sawmill from D.W. Cummings in 1882 for five years. He then offered to run the mill again in 1891 and later purchased the property in 1895 and owned it until it closed in 1903. J.D. McArthur had, by this time, moved to Winnipeg and became the contractor for the Canadian Pacific Railway and built hundreds of miles of rail line in Manitoba and Alberta. He boasted that he had built more miles of railroad than any other contractor in Canada. He purchased the Lac du the Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Company and its 2000 acres of land. He formed the Manitoba Pulp and Paper Company and was its first president. Over the years he was president, vice-president and director of numerous companies in the lumber and pulp industry including the North West Lumber Company. He built the Ambassador Block in Winnipeg and was listed as one of Winnipeg’s millionaires.
Mickle, Charles (1848-1914) Came to Birtle as a lawyer in 1882. He was the M.L.A. for Birtle constituency 1888-1908, Provincial Secretary in Greenway’s government, Leader of the Opposition, County Court Judge. Mickle Avenue in Winnipeg is named after him.
Wallis, W.H. (William Henry) (1864-1946) was born on the Isle of Wight and received his early training at Ryde School of Art and later at South Kensington. He was a pupil of M. Charbonnier, French master, and R. Cornwall-Jones, member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. W.H. Wallis spent considerable time studying French cathedrals and is known for his watercolour painting of the 12th Century Bourges Cathedral. In 1915, his painting of the Reims Cathedral was purchased by the Manitoba government for the new legislative buildings upon the recommendation of George H. Malcom, member for Birtle.
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W.H. Wallis and his family immigrated to Canada from England about 1903. In 1911, they moved to Birtle and bought L.C. Cann’s Confectionary business. W.H. Wallis painted the Honour Roll of Birtle WWI soldiers for St. George’s Anglican Church. The store was sold in 1921 and the family moved to Winnipeg.