Robert James Manion, MD, MC



Robert James Manion (November 19, 1881 Pembroke, Ontario - July 2, 1943 Ottawa, Ontario) was a physician and Canadian politician. He was leader of the Canadian Conservative Party 1938-1940.

Of Irish descent, Manion studied medicine at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario and at Edinburgh before settling in his hometown of Fort William, Ontario where his parents had lived since 1888. In 1915 he enrolled with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Attached to the 21st Canadian Battalion, he was awarded the Military Cross for heroism at the battle of Vimy Ridge

He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons during the conscription election of 1917 as a Liberal-Unionist MP for Fort William, Ontario. A member of the Liberal Party before the war, Manion remained with the Conservative Party after the war. The new Prime minister Arthur Meighen appointed him Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in 1921. He spent most of the 1920's on the opposition benches , except for a few months in 1926 when he served as a minister in the second Meighen administration, including the position of Postmaster-General.

Following the federal election of 1930, the new Conservative Prime minister R. B. Bennett appointed Manion Minister of Railways and Canals. However, the economic crisis of the Great Depression destroyed the Bennett government, and Manion, with many others, lost his seat in the 1935 election. According to historian Roy Piovesana, Manion's loss was partly attributable to his failure to cultivate his Fort William riding. Despite not having a seat, Manion won the 1938 Conservative leadership convention in hopes that his Catholicism and marriage to a French-Canadian, Yvonne Desaulniers, would help the party in Quebec where the perception of the Tories as being anti-French and anti-Catholic Orangemen hurt their prospects. Manion entered the House of Commons through a by-election in 1938. He subsequently campaigned against conscription despite the fact that he had joined the Unionists in 1917 because he favoured the draft.

The defeat of the government of Maurice Duplessis in Quebec hurt Manion's hopes of building an electoral alliance with the conservative Premier. As well, his stance against conscription turned much of the Tory base in Ontario against the leader. In the March 1940 general election Manion's Tories campaigned under the name National Government with the platform of forming a wartime coalition government but the renamed Tories were unable to make any gains from their 1935 result and Manion failed to win his seat leading to his resignation as party leader two months later. He would die three years later, sick and disillusioned.


· Manion, R.J. A surgeon in arms. Toronto : McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1918.

· Manion, R.J. Life is an adventure. Toronto : Ryerson Press, 1936.

· Naugler, Harold Adelbert. R.J. Manion and the Conservative Party 1938-1940. M.A. thesis 1966, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont.

· Piovesana, Roy H. Robert J. Manion member of Parliament for Fort William 1917-1935. Thunder Bay : Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 1990.


The above document is made available under the GNU Free Documentation License, and as such, may be freely copied.


Summary of Service Record



Nov 19, 1881

Born at Pembroke Ontario


Mar 16, 1916

Accepted into the CAMC (Canadian Army Medical Corps) at Ottawa Ontario with rank of Lieutenant


Mar 21, 1916

Commission and rank confirmed in CEF


Apr 1, 1916

To be Captain as per London Gazette #29578


Note that this was not posted until May 12 

Posted to CAMC Training School “with effect”


Apr 5, 1916

Embarked the SS Olympic at Halifax with the Ontario Hospital contingent



Apr 11, 1916

Disembarked at Liverpool


May 10, 1916

Detailed for duty to Heaton Park, Manchester, for course of instruction on Physical Training


May 15, 1916

Returned from Heaton Park


May 27, 1916

Detailed for duty at Canterbury Military Hospital


Jun 10, 1916

TOS No 7 Stationary Hospital


Jun 18, 1916

TOS the Military Hospital at Shorncliffe


Jun 26, 1916

Officer’s Declaration signed at CAMC, Shorncliffe England 

Ø      Rank of Captain

Ø      Next of kin given as Yvonne D Manion (wife) of 300 Wilbrod St, Ottawa Ontario

Ø      Although not stated, he was a physician

Ø      No previous military experience given

Ø      On the medical portion he stated that he had been examined twice in Canada and was declared fit.


Oct 12, 1916

Returned from duty at Canterbury


Oct 13, 1916

TOS CAMC Training School and attached to Standing Medical Board


Oct 17, 1916

TOS CAMC Training School Cheriton


Oct 21, 1916

Attached to ADMS (Assistant Director of Medical Services)  London Area and posted to Standing Medical Board at Shoreham by Sea


Nov 19, 1916

Transferred to ADMS, Brighton area


Nov 20, 1916

Attached to A/D ADMS, Seaford


Nov 30, 1916

TOS No 1 Canadian General Hospital on arrival in France


Dec 13, 1916

Attached to No 6 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance)


Dec 22, 1916

Attached to 22nd Battalion but retained at 6 CFA


Dec 23, 1916

Posted to No 6 CFA


Jan 4, 1917

Attached to 25th Battalion for Temporary Duty


Jan 16, 1917

Attached to 21st Battalion as MO (Medical Officer)


Jun 5, 1917

Admitted to No 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, with a hernia of left testicle


Jun 7, 1917

Invalided to England aboard the HS St Patrick


Admitted to the Royal Free Hospital, Grays Inn Rd, London 

Posted to CAMC Depot


Jun 9, 1917

Discharged from hospital


Jul 10, 1917

Granted special leave to Canada until September 10, 1917 

Ø      Address while in Canada, Fort William Ontario


Jul 18, 1917

Awarded the Military Cross, London Gazette #30188



Jul 21, 1917

Disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia


Sep 10, 1917

Leave extended to September 15, 1917


Sep 15, 1917

SOS OMFC (Overseas Military Force of Canada) on being retained in Canada


Sep 16, 1917

Attended at Military Hospital Convalescent Centre and sent to Deer Lodge Hospital as an out patient, both in Winnipeg, Manitoba


Oct 31, 1917

TOS MD 10 (Military District 10, Winnipeg Manitoba)


Dec 17, 1917

Elected to Parliament as a Unionist MP for the riding of Fort William Ontario


Jan 26, 1918

Medical Board at Port Arthur Ontario records: 

Ø      Current address 433 Syndicate Ave., S., Fort William Ontario

Ø      Disability noted as “pain in left scrotum”

Ø      Caused by a fall from a horse in March of 1917

Ø      Declared to be a 25% permanent disability

Ø      Board recommends he be discharged from the CEF as medically unfit


Feb 8, 1918

Discharged from the CEF as medically unfit


Nov 2, 1922

British War Medal and Victory Medal sent to 433 South Syndicate Ave., Fort William Ontario 


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