U of M Roll of Honour 1914-1918. Roll of the Fallen (pg. 18)
Ralph Russell James Brown was born in Barrie, Ontario in 1875. He came to Winnipeg with his family later that year. He graduated from Wesley College with a BA in Education in 1896 winning the Governor General’s Medal for his grades.
Education was his calling and he spent a dozen years, 1902-1914, as the first principal of Somerset School at Sherbrook and Notre Dame (where the Shoppers Drug Mart is now). He married Harriet Belle Brown, an art Supervisor in the Winnipeg School Division then left Somerset to go back to school to study law at the U of M.
Brown was also involved in the military. He was a Captain in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles militia. When war broke he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 44th Battalion, and left Winnipeg on October 18, 1915. While overseas he fought at Mons, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.
Brown was wounded at Passchendaele on October 28th, 1917 and died three days later from his wounds. He was 42 and left behind his wife and two young children, Eleanor and Isabel. He is buried in the Nine Elms British Cemetery in Belgium.
In the ‘History of the 44th Battalion’ the chaplain wrote:
“Enemy air raids a nightly occurrence. The German planes came over in bunches. Major R.R.J. Brown of the 44the, Area Commander of the Fourth Division, with his characteristic ccontempt of personal danger, continued to live in a tent despite the fact that other Divisional officers sought the protection of re-inforced cellars. One night he was hit by the flying fragment of an aerial bomb. He died two days later. So passed a very gallant gentleman, whose work and influence, particularly in the early history of the 44th, have been of inestimable value to the Battalion.” (p.128)
If Brown survived, he would have received his law degree so he does appear on the Honor Roll of the Manitoba Law Society. He also appears on page Page 208 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.
In 1918 a temporary school building on Andrews Street was renamed for him. A permanent Ralph Brown School was built the following year. In 1989 that school was replaced by a new structure that also has an adjoining community centre.
Ralph Russell James Brown Virtual War Museum
Winnipeg School Division History of Schools - Norquay to Rockwood (source of above quote)
Ralph Brown School Winnipeg School Division