WALTER WARDROP SR. April 12, 1854 – 1942
Entrepreneur: Walter Wardrop Sr. was born on August 27, 1854 in Paris, Ontario, the son of John Wardrop, a Cotton (hand loom) weaver and wife Janet Barr. His mother died when he was three weeks old and he was raised by his grandmother, Mary Wardrop, in Port Elgin, Ontario. On March 3rd, 1877, he married Sarah Jane McCleod. Walter came west to Manitoba between 1882 – 83 and later was followed by his wife and their children. First employed by the Dan Mann Tie Company of Whitemouth, he later joined the D.A. Ross Company staff as a “Bush Foreman”. This involved “stream driving”, when the cut logs were floated down the Winnipeg River in the spring log drive to the sawmill. As a show of confidence to other company workers, Walter was the first to volunteer to be vaccinated by Dr. Charlotte Ross (the first woman doctor in Manitoba) with the newly developed Small Pox Vaccine.
Around 1896 Wardrp moved to Lac du Bonnet where he became General Manager of the Lac du Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Company Limited. He later hauled the equipment for the new brickyard on a winter road from Shelly, located on the Canadian Pacific Railway. At that time, Lac du Bonnet was locally referred to as “Eureka”, because of the mining potential in the Winnipeg and Bird River areas. In 1899 he built two boarding houses and a store that was managed by W.D. Halliday. From 1900 to 1901 Walter Wardrop became the first Postmaster for “Lac du Bonnet”, a name first used by the explorer La Vérendrye in the 1700s, for a wide spot in the Winnipeg River seven kilometres north of the settlement. He also had a contract to deliver mail to St. George and Fort Alexander, using a canoe in the summer and a dogsled in the winter.
In January of 1901, having disposed of his interests in Lac du Bonnet, Wardrop moved his family to Sparwood, British Columbia, where he operated a large lumber mill to supply the mines in the area and a “first-class tie making plant”. Following a previous disastrous fire, he disposed of his properties and on June 16, 1905 moved back to Whitemouth where he built a home west of town. At this time J.D. McArthur had contracted to build the Transcontinental Railway from Winnipeg to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) where Wardrop built a number of the railway trestle bridges and several miles of rail grade. In 1924 he moved to the family farm in the Crescent Bay area, north of Lac du Bonnet which was flooded out in 1954 by the construction of the McArthur Falls Hydro Electric project. William Walter Wardrop died on March 5, 1942, short of 89 years of age. Sarah, his wife, predeceased him on November 5, 1927. “Wardrop Creek” passed through the original property.