Alfred Babb of Kenora, Ontario, Canada

I was tracked down by a fellow Genealogist who had a picture of a group of men, who apparently bore some professional relationships. He had already tracked down the “Fred Babb” who is listed as Head Clerk on the Reverse of the photo.

[Al]Fred is 3rd from the left on the back row

He included in his message a link to the web entry below where he had already tracked down Fred for me (which by the way is awesome!) This saved me loads of research time and allowed me to easily sort out this Alfred from the 56 others in the English Master Tree.

Reverse side of Photo

We don’t know the original intent of the photo, but it’s easy to imagine in hanging in one of the various Retail Stores he worked and later owned during his life. He offered to send me a copy of the photo via email and derives the same thrill of making that connection to repatriate lost photos with their families. The photo was apparently taken in the village of Rat Portage, which now goes by the name of Kenora in Ontario, Canada. I’m sure the new name is much better for tourism. 😉

Alfred had no children during his life, but was clearly well loved and respected to have been called out on this website.

They synopsis below provides most of the details of his life, so I won’t repeat them here, but there is the eternal question of “To which tree does he belong? From appearances Alfred’s grandparents Samuel & Mary (Downing) Babb packed the entire family unit up and brought them to Canada. Little is known of their lives back in England but the earliest records for the family unit are from St. Dominick in Cornwall and in Werrington (not a typo) in Devon. The two places are about 10-15 Kilometers away from each other. They are currently classified as part of tree known Cornwall Pedigree (St Dominick-1788) which has not yet been Y-DNA tested.

Memorable Manitobans: Alfred “Fred” Babb (1869-1947)

Hardware merchant.

Born at Mitchell, Ontario on 17 February 1869, son of Thomas Babb and Ellen Small, he was educated at Mitchell and London. He began working in the hardware business while at London, for the hardware firm of Hobbs and Company, before moving in 1894 to Rat Portage (now Kenora, Ontario) where he worked for the Robinson Hardware firm. On 20 December 1894, he married Caroline Sophia Chambers (1870-1944) of London and they moved to Winnipeg in 1898 where he was a salesman for the J. H. Ashdown Hardware Company. In 1900, he moved to Portage la Prairie and established his own hardware store, initially under the name of Babb and Kirkland in partnership with G. K. Kirkland. He later bought out his partner and the business became Babb Hardware. He retired in February 1945. Active in community affairs, Babb served on the Portage Parks Board for 30 years and was its Chairman for nearly 25 years. Under his guidance, Island Park was developed into one of the best-known bird and game sanctuaries in Canada. He was a school trustee and a member of the board for the Portage General Hospital. He was a member of Portage Board of Trade, Masons (Assiniboine Lodge No. 7), and Grace Methodist Church, where he sang in the choir. In 1915, he was a founding member of the Portage Country Club at Delta Marsh, where it was said that he had not missed an opening day for duck shooting season in 40 years. He was an active golfer and curler. After his wife’s death, he married registered nurse Edith Marguerita Johnston (1900-1953). He died due to complications from diabetes while visiting Vancouver, British Columbia on 5 January 1947. He left no children and was buried alongside his first wife in Portage’s Hillside Cemetery.


Birth registration [Marguerita Johnston], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Obituary [Mrs. Alfred Babb], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 November 1944, page 4.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“Portage hardware merchant dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 January 1947, page 4.

“Alfred Babb, retired merchant dies at Vancouver Saturday,” Portage la Prairie Leader, 9 January 1947, page 4.

“Alfred Babb retired merchant laid to rest,” Portage la Prairie Leader, 16 January 1947, page 5.

“Motion to nominate,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 January 1947, page 10.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 December 2019

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