John Robert Brodie

  • b- 1879-July 3, , near, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce West, Hochelaga County, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec,
  • d- 1962-Dec-8 , Phoenix, AZ, USA, age 83

Because Mr. J. R. Brodie appears as an owner in many mines in the Bienfiat 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 own interest..

He is known as a “shadowy figure” in the Bienfait-Estevan area. Very prominent in ownership of the mines, but not really seen that often locally.

Here is what I found in my internet travels.

Click to Show Bio

He was of Scottish Nationality and Presbyterian Religion, as were his ancestors.

He was also educated in Montreal.

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. See below for one possible heir.

In 1911 Census, I found a John Robert Brodie born July 1882 in Winnipeg, with his wife Mabelle Agnes Brodie, born Apr 1888 in Ontario. 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.

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. in 1911.
  • 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 ,000,000 in assets.
  • In 1926 he bought R. J. Hassard's share of Bienfait Mines Ltd. in 1926.
  • He 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 Coal Co.
  • 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 well.
  • During the Strike and Riot of 1931, he was the major owner of mines in the area.
  • His Estate sold Western Dominion Coal Mines Ltd. to Manalta Corporation in 1965.

His Hobbies

Hockey, Geology, Fishing, Hunting and Travel

An accomplished athlete, he was 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. 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. External Link of hockey picture, 1902
He is 3rd from left in back row

His Estate

ca May 2, 1963 his Estate was going to probate valued at $1,354,404.00

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 ,000 to his 3 grandchildren, and the income from his estate to his widow. United College in Winnipeg was given ,000 for Capital Funds.

The Winnipeg Foundation has the John Robert Brodie Memorial Endowment Fund, designated by Mr. Brodie in his will. He donated 0,000, 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 would think.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, has an Endowment fund in excess of 100,000 from the Estate of Edna Brodie. They replied back to me, from an inquiry about Edna, saying the Endowment has been fulfilled.


Remembered in the history books as an Athlete, 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.

Mabelle (Mabel) Agnes Gillespie

  • b- Apr. 5, 1888 in Ontario,
  • d- Sept 24, 1930 in Winnipeg MB, age 42.
  • m- 1907-June 12, Brandon MB
  • 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.

John Malcolm Brodie (Son)

  • b- 1920, Brandon
  • d-

If I was a betting man, John Malcolm Brodie, was his son

May 1962, John Malcolm Brodie was Managing Director of Great West coal Company shown operating in Estevan, Brandon and Winnipeg. He was appointed to the Dominion Coal Board, the first for someone from the Lignite Industry of SK.

Mr. J. M. Brodie was 42 at the time, born ca 1920 at Brandon He attended St. John's Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, studied Mine Engineering at Queen's University,followed by Geological engineering at U of Manitoba.

Served with Royal Canadian Navy, 1941-45. Discharged rank of Lieutenant.

Joined the Great West Coal Company in 1945. Appointed Managing Director in 1955.

He is a member of the Canadian Mining Metallurgical Institute. there is a Memorial Bursary at Brandon University in his name

Now was he related to J. R. Brodie? my guess is yes. found a John M. Brodie born July 15, 1920, that died July 26, 1997 in Tempe, Maricopa, Arizona, 85282, same guy? I know John R. Brodie died in Arizona

John Lilly Brodie

See John Lilly Brodie Page

Agnes Bothwell

  • b-Dec 5, 1846 in Quebec as well
  • d-

Agnes L., William A.(Sister)

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  • d-

Amelia E. (Sister)

  • b-
  • d-

William A. (Brother)

  • b-
  • d-

George S.(BRother)

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  • Last modified: 2019/02/12 09:39
  • by dlgent