John Bracken Highway honours former Manitoba premier

Former Manitoba Premier John Bracken.
Former Manitoba Premier John Bracken.

John Bracken Highway will be the official name of a 195-kilometre section of PTH 10 from the International Peace Garden north to Riding Mountain National Park to honour the longest-serving premier in Manitoba history, Premier Brian Pallister has announced.

“We are pleased to establish the John Bracken Highway through the fertile southwest agricultural land of Manitoba north to the rolling hills near Riding Mountain,” said Pallister. “We congratulate his family and join with them in celebrating the memory of a man dedicated to family and to the people he served.”

The official John Bracken Highway signs will be posted along PTH 10. The sign was unveiled at a ceremony in Brandon, about halfway between the north and south end points on the designated section of highway. Members of the Bracken family travelled to Brandon for the unveiling from across Canada and the United States.

“This is a tremendous honour to have bestowed on the Bracken name, a lasting tribute to our father and grandfather,” said Michael Bracken, grandson of the former premier. “He was a leader in many ways as the head of our family, a politician and an educator.”

Bracken was born in Ellisville, Ont., in 1883. He graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College and served as a government employee until he became a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in 1910. Ten years later he took an appointment as principal of the Manitoba Agricultural College. In 1922, Bracken became premier of Manitoba and represented The Pas in the Manitoba legislature.

After his time as premier of Manitoba, from 1922 to 1943, he entered federal politics. In 1943, Bracken became leader of the federal Conservative Party and stepped down from the leadership in 1948. During his time, he had the word “Progressive” added to the party name. He served as chair of a royal commission on liquor laws of Manitoba. He was also chair of the Box Car Commission in 1959, established to investigate the distribution of railway cars. He was the author of two books, Crop Production in Western Canada (1920) and Dry Farming in Western Canada (1921).

Bracken married Alice Wylie Bruce in June 1909, with whom he had four sons. The couple was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt on their 50th wedding anniversary. Bracken retired to Manotick, Ont. He died March 18, 1969, in Ottawa.

“John Bracken entered politics at a challenging time for our province,” said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen, who spoke at the Brandon event July 21 on behalf of the premier. “His tenure as premier of Manitoba is impressive in its span and truly remarkable in its accomplishments in weathering the economic climate of the time.”

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