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Weir, Robert (1882-1939)

Robert Weir.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B11272

Weir was born in Wigham in Huron County, Ontario, on December 5, 1882. He worked his way through normal school and completed a physics degree from the University of Toronto in his spare time. Weir taught mathematics at Regina Collegiate before World War I, when he enlisted in the Canadian Army and quickly rose to the rank of major. Wounded during the battle of Passchendaele, Weir finished the war in a military hospital in London. He was a school inspector when he returned to Saskatchewan in 1919, but quit on doctor's advice and began farming in an attempt to improve his health. He acquired a mixed farming operation near Melfort and established a breeding program for purebred horses, cattle, sheep and swine.

Weir won the Melfort riding for the Conservatives in the 1930 federal election and was appointed Minister of Agriculture in the new R.B. Bennett government. When the prairie wheat pools could not make payments for wheat contracts, the federal government took control over wheat sales, which led to the re-establishment of the Canadian Wheat Board in 1935. He provided the foundation for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act in 1935 that sought to promote agricultural land improvement to help alleviate the effects of the Depression and to provide work for unemployed labourers. As the federal Minister from Saskatchewan, Weir, along with Railway Minister R.J. Manion, was appointed to negotiate for the federal government with the On-to-Ottawa trekkers. Weir was defeated in the 1935 election. He returned to his farm but was killed in a farm accident on March 7, 1939.

Brett Quiring

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Further Reading

Abel, P.M. 1930. “Saskatchewan's Cincinnatus,” Country Guide (September); Howard, Victor. 1985. “We Were the Salt of the Earth!”: The On-To-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center.
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University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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