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Ralph Chetwynd

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Ralph Chetwynd
Ralph and Frances Chetwynd (1954)
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Cariboo
In office
June 12, 1952 – April 3, 1957
Preceded byAngus MacLean
Succeeded byWilliam C. Speare
Personal details
Born(1888-06-26)June 26, 1888
Staffordshire, England
DiedApril 3, 1957(1957-04-03) (aged 66)
Saanich, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyBritish Columbia Social Credit Party

The Honourable William Ralph Talbot Chetwynd MC (July 28, 1890 – April 3, 1957) was a British-Canadian businessman and politician. The town of Chetwynd, British Columbia was named in his honor.

Born in Staffordshire, England, he was the younger brother of Sir (Arthur Henry) Talbot Chetwynd, 7th Baronet. He came to Canada at the age of eighteen, and was soon in Ashcroft, British Columbia (west of Kamloops Lake). He received employment from Charles Paget, 6th Marquess of Anglesey (nephew of Lady Florence Cecilia Paget, who was married to Chetwynd's first cousin once removed Sir George, 4th Baronet) to manage Anglesey's fruit farm holdings at Walhachin.

On October 8, 1912, he married Frances Mary Jupe, daughter of James Jupe of Mere, Wiltshire.

He fought in World War I as a member of the Royal Field Artillery,[1] attaining the rank of lieutenant therein. He received the Military Cross (MC) in 1918 for his service. The citation for his MC, which appeared in The London Gazette in November 1918, reads as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Under shell fire of a very intense description he attended to a wounded soldier, who was lying out in the open, unable to move, and having bandaged him, carried him into safety in a quarry near by, with the assistance of stretcher bearers.[2]

After returning from Europe, he entered cattle ranching and the transportation business needed to get the cattle and other agriculture products to eastern markets. As a fruit grower and rancher, he saw both the potential for the Cariboo and Peace River Country, but also the need for efficient rail transportation to serve the region.

In 1942 he became the public relations officer for Pacific Great Eastern Railway (PGE; later BC Rail; now part of the CN Rail system), a post he held until 1952; he also served as a director of the PGE. He was a big advocate for building a railroad to central British Columbia. Running as a member from the District of Cariboo, he was elected to the provincial legislature in 1952. He served on the Executive Council of British Columbia as Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Railways, Minister of Fisheries and also as Minister of Agriculture. He died in office on April 3, 1957.

Full of confidence, he once bet executives at PGE, and politicians (a new Stetson hat), that the new extension line for Peace River would leave North Vancouver on June 11, 1956 at 4:15 pm. He had many takers, totaling more than $800 in hats. He won the bet, and got his picture in the newspaper wearing a stack of hats.[citation needed]

Chetwynd died at Victoria, British Columbia on April 3, 1957.

Rail service arrived in Little Prairie in April 1958. It would bring an economic transformation to the area, which until then had to rely on trucks to get any goods, such as timber, out of the valley.

The Premier of British Columbia, W.A.C. Bennett, renamed the PGE station at Little Prairie to Chetwynd, in his honour, and the town of Little Prairie soon changed its name in 1959.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "No. 30594". The London Gazette (Supplement). March 22, 1918. p. 3719.
  2. ^ "No. 30997". The London Gazette (Supplement). November 5, 1918. p. 13149.
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Ralph Chetwynd
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