Mr John Robert Brodie
Because Mr. J. R. Brodie appears
as an owner in many mines in the area,
I did a little more research on him and his life.
I am a part time
amateur family genealogist,
so family ties are traced as well, not for any reason,
than for my
He is known as a "shadowy figure" in the Bienfait-Estevan
Very prominent in ownership of the mines,
really seen that often locally.
Here is what I found in my
4th Generation- We start with
Mr. John Robert Brodie:
b- July 3, 1879 in or near,
Notre-Dame-de-Grāce West, Hochelaga County,
a suburb of Montreal, Quebec,
where he was living ca:1881- ca:1901,
d- Dec 8, 1962, on a Saturday, in Phoenix, AZ, USA, age 83.
burial place- unknown.
He was of Scottish Nationality,
and Presbyterian Religion,
as were his ancestors.
He married a Mabelle (Mabel) Agnes Gillespie,
in Brandon MB on June 12, 1907.
b- Apr. 5, 1888 in Ontario,
d- Sept 24, 1930 in Winnipeg MB, age 42.
daughter of Malcolm and Sarah (nee Anderson) Gillespie,
living in Brandon MB. in 1906.
and in 1911 living at 530 11th st. Brandon MB.
shown as a Scottish, Methodist Merchant, born in Ontario,
and in 1901 living in Alvinston Village, Lampton East, Ontario.
Malcolm Gillespie was a Scottish, Methodist, Lumber Merchant,
living in Village of Alvinston, Brooke
Township, Lambton County,
Ontario, Canada, on Apr 4, 1881.
Sarah's father was a John Anderson.
I can not find any children born to John and Mabel,
but after an email from Jennifer at the Winnipeg Foundation,
I found out he left a widow in 1962, named Edna. who died in 1994.
So now it appears he was married at least twice,
2nd marriage before 1962.
In the will he mentions 3 grandchildren,
so we know he had at least one child, with Mabel or Edna, maybe more than 1.
He was also educated in Montreal.
Tuesday, Dec 11, 1962 obit.
In 1911 Census, I found a John Robert Brodie
July 1882 in Winnipeg,
his wife Mabelle Agnes Brodie, born Apr 1888 in
He is shown as a Grain Exchange Broker,
Note- Discrepancy in birth year from census to online records.
Birth year errors are common in the Canadian Census, but 3?.
In 1911 he lived at 330 River Ave, Suite 3 [apartment block], Winnipeg, MB.
John Lilly Brodie, a farmer,
b- Feb 4, 1844 in Montreal, Ile De Montreal, Quebec.
d- Jan 2, 1926.
Mother- Agnes Bothwell
b- Dec 5, 1846 in Quebec as well.
d- I don't have her date of death.
John and Agnes Brodie were married Jan 19, 1874.,
John R. Brodie had 2 sisters and 2 brothers:
Agnes L., William A. , Amelia E. and George S.
John L. Brodie was Mayor of the village
of Notre-Dame-de-Grāce West, until 1906.
2nd Generation- His Grandfather
b- May 31, 1809 on the banks of the Chateauguay River,
in Montreal, Ile De Montreal, Quebec
d- May 13, 1886
and Grandmother Mary, (nee Brodie),
b- 1821, born in Scotland.
d- Aug 8, 1899 at Coteau St. Pierre, Quebec.
Robert and Mary married Mar 23, 1843.
Robert and Mary also had a son named Hugh Brodie, b- Dec 26, 1850.
Robert Brodie had a relative named Jane Brodie, b- ca 1819.
Both Hugh and Jane were living with Robert and Mary,
In 1881, in
Notre-Dame-De-Grace West, Hochelaga, Quebec.
Robert inherited the estate of Kilbirnie, in Ayrshire, Scotland,
and with it the title of "Laird".
He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church Nov 19, 1871.
Founder of the firm Harvie & Brodie Flour Merchants.
Resided at Coteau St. Pierre, Quebec.
Found reference to Parkyn & Brodie Flour Mills, Cote St. Paul.
Recipes etc on the net today for Brodie Flour,
probably still in operation today.
Found an obituary June 21, 1890, for Mary Campbell Davison,
wife of Thomas Brodie, of the firm W. & R. Brodie, flour merchants,
Lower Town, age 48. Another article says W.R. Brodie flour.
Turns out I think this is a different Brodie family.
All Descendants of Charles Brodie. William and Robert the W.R.
1st Generation- His Great- Grandfather
b- 1780 in Lochwinnoch, Ayrshire, Scotland
d- 1852 age 72. at his farm, Coteau St. Pierre, Quebec
Great Grandfather of our John R. Brodie,
and first of his Brodie line in Canada.
His Great-Grandmother was Anne/Ann?, (nee Brodie, not related)
b- 1779 in Scotland.
Hugh Sr. and Anne/Ann? Brodie were married in 1803, in Scotland.
Hugh Sr., age 24, and Anne/Ann?, age 23
came to Canada, from Scotland in 1803,
with 2 of Hugh's brothers, John and William, to Montreal, Lower Canada.
They sailed from Greenock landing in Quebec City.
One source says it took 3 months.
They established two prosperous farms 2 miles west of the city.
One was in the village of St. Henri.
Oxford Park in Montreal was once the Brodie Family farm.
Hugh Brodie was to build a 15 room stone farmhouse
of local limestone, and cedar beams.
It was sold to the city of Montreal in 1949.
They were referred to as Lowland Scots at the time.
1st settling in Chambly Quebec,
Then as farmer for a Mr. John Lilly, who was Justice of the
Then farming his own place at Coteau St. Pierre, Quebec.
One reason speculated for leaving Scotland,
was Hugh's half brother Andrew,
lost the Langcraft / Langcroft? property in Scotland, to creditors in 1803.
Hugh was raised in the Lochwinnoch Parish.
Hugh Sr. also had a sister named Mary,
who must have remained in Scotland.
Anne/Ann's father was Robert Brodie,
Laird of Bankside, Parish of Kilburne, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Hugh Sr. and Anne had 2 sons-
Hugh Jr, Farmer,
b- Mar 14, 1812 at Cote St.
d- May 18, 1870 at St. Henri,
b- May 31, 1809, (shown above),
and a daughter:
b- ca1804. baptized Nov 20, 1804,
in the Scottish Presbyterian Church on St. Gabriel St. in Montreal.
Mary married Matthew Woodrow of St.
Hugh Jr. married Amelia Ogilvie,
Amelia b- May 2, 1818 at Riviere St. Pierre,
d- Mar 17, 1899
they were married Feb 1841
and they had 4 children:
(III)- b. at St Henri, April 24, 1842,
In a church record he is shown as the Notary of Montreal.
b. at St. Henri Dec 10, 1844
d. Dec 18, 1893;
and 2 daughters,
b. Aug 30, 1843, at St. Henri, Quebec,
d. Feb 15, 1892
b. Mar 14, 1850 st St. Henri, Quebec,
d. July 17, 1879
Hugh Jr. was a trooper in the Laohine Cavalry
and served during the rebellion of 1837-38.
In 1838 a Hugh Brodie is shown as a
The oldest Hugh Brodie farmed for a Mr. John Lilly,
thus the given names John and Lilly for John's father.
The Oldest Hugh, was an avid farmer, and on his farm,
new crops were developed. Special melons and apples.
He even judged in agricultural fairs in New York State.
He became an Elder in the St. Peter St, Presbyterian Church in Montreal.
J. R. Brodie's Working Life:
He started out his working career in the Grain and Milling Business.
Silver was found in 1903 in Cobalt ON., and he owned a silver mine there.
He lived and worked in Brandon from 1902-1920.
His main place of residence I believe was Winnipeg, as shown above, on River Ave.
Early 1900's he owned a grain brokerage business in Brandon.
April 25, 1945 attended a hearing in Winnipeg, re: Royal Commission on Coal.
Member of the Manitoba Board of Trade.
Grain Exchange Broker in 1911 in Winnipeg.
President and Founder of Great West Coal Co., in Winnipeg MB, 1912.
President of Rosedale Collieries Ltd., in Rosedale, AB
Great West Coal Co. started the Star Mine in 1914 in the Drumheller AB. area.
In 1903 the Great West Coal Co. bought the Black Diamond Mine near Edmonton,
which is now the Strathcona Science Park.
I found other mines, such as the Stewart mine, owned by this company as well.
But then I found a company formed by the name of Great West Coal Company Ltd.
that was supposedly started by Port Arthur capitalists, and they started a coal mine near Frank BC.
so we might have 2 companies intertwined. 2 separate Companies?
I am not sure.
I thought this mix up in Estevan and Bienfait area was bad!
This I know for sure, the Company I am interested in was incorporated Jan 11,
1908, in Brandon MB.,
as The Great West Coal Co. with $2,000,000 in assets.
In 1926 he bought R. J. Hassard's share of Bienfait Mines Ltd. in 1926.
later bought out A.C. Wilson's share of this mine, to own it all.
Owned Old Mac Coal Co. at Roche Percee, which was sold to Manalta in 1960.
He owned half share in Crescent Collieries Coal Co. from 1918-1940's
In 1939 he took control of Western Dominion Collieries, and Truax-Traer
From this License application we can now see he was an Attorney.
He amalgamated Truax-Traer Coal Company with Western Dominion Collieries to form
Western Dominion Coal Mines Ltd.
He owned Souris Coal Distributors Limited, Wholesale Souris Coal Dealers, based
in Brandon MB, Subsidiary of his Great West Coal Co. with branches in Weyburn,
Bienfait, Winnipeg and Brandon. This Company acted as a sales agent to
sell the Deep Seam Lump Coal produced in these mines in SE. Saskatchewan.
He was President of the Company. He charged 8% Commission to sell the
coal, so basically was charging his own Coal Companies to sell their own Coal.
Plus of course he tried to control the market by selling his competitors coal as
His Company Logo above
His Estate sold Western Dominion Coal Mines Ltd. to Manalta Corporation in 1965.
During the Strike and Riot of 1931, he was the major owner of mines in the area.
Fishing, Hunting and Travel
An accomplished athlete, he is claimed to be a member of the Montreal Stanley
Cup and World Championship winning teams of 1901-02.
this would have been the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team, "The Montreal AAA ' team. The 1902
team was known as the "Little Men of Iron"
He is supposed to have played hockey
with the great Lester Patrick.
I can not find any proof this is all true yet.
Nothing on the internet verifies this story.
In 1904, Lester Patrick was the star for the Brandon team in the
Northwestern and Manitoba Hockey Leagues and became the first defence man known
to score a goal. Brodie might have played with him there.
I hope one
day one of his grandsons will view this stuff, and send me corrections, and
clipping maybe of his hockey career.
ca May 2, 1963 his Estate was going to probate valued at
He ordered upon the death of his heirs, and attainment of
23 years of age for his 3 grandchildren, the balance of his Estate be divided so
that the Winnipeg Foundation would get half, a 1/4 will be held in trust for
Brandon College Inc. And remainder in trust for the Brandon General
Hospital. he left $10,000 to his 3 grandchildren, and the income from his
estate to his widow. United College in Winnipeg was given $10,000 for
The Winnipeg Foundation has the John Robert Brodie Memorial
designated by Mr. Brodie in his will.
He donated $250,000, to the Brandon
College in 1961.
He also left 1/4 of his estate after his death, to this College.
All of which was used to build the Science Center there, named after him, opened
by the Queen in 1970.
Info below from the Winnipeg Foundation:
"The income from his estate was paid to his widow,
Edna, until her death in 1994. The residue then passed to The Winnipeg
Foundation. Half of the income is reserved for Brandon General Hospital with
the remainder undesignated for the benefit of the people of Winnipeg.” excerpt
from The Winnipeg Foundation’s 1994 Annual Report.
In 1967 two of the colleges of the University of Manitoba
were given university status by the provincial government. United College, which
was formed by the merging of Wesley College and Manitoba College, became the
University of Winnipeg, and Brandon College became Brandon University.
In his obituary it states his Company, The Great West Coal
Company, was the first to open the Saskatchewan Coalfields, and began in 1912.
This is not really a true statement. Mr. Hugh Hassard lays claim to that I
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, has an Endowment fund
excess of 100,000 from the Estate of Edna Brodie.
back to me, from an inquiry about Edna,
saying the Endowment has been
Remembered in the history books as
Philanthropist, and an Industrialist.
Too bad some of the money he made in SE. Saskatchewan,
didn't Stay in Saskatchewan,
and get donated to the Bienfait or Estevan Area.
There now we know a little more of this man,
that controlled most of the mines in the area.
Funny thing is, It was easier finding his ancestors
than finding anything about himself. "Shadowy Figure"?
You bet he was.
All of the above is using various internet sources,
and should not be construed as 100% accurate.