Freeman of the city

Who was the man behind Cranbrook's T.M. Roberts Elementary?

T.M. Roberts

The school bearing his name has kept the memory of T.M. Roberts very much alive in Cranbrook.

It’s a community that benefitted from his leadership in ways that may not be known to all, but with the anniversary of the T.M. Roberts Elementary School it’s being brought front of mind.

Thomas Mason Roberts was Cranbrook’s mayor for 16 consecutive terms – many of which were acclaimed – from 1924 to 1940. He was born in Chester, England in 1875 and came to Cranbrook in 1902. He quickly grew to love the city and remained there for the rest of his life.

Roberts began his first steps towards the mayorship when he began work as city clerk at City Hall in Cranbrook in 1906. He stayed at that post for 17 years before seeking the mayor’s chair in 1924.

The Cranbrook Courier reported following his death on July 29, 1943, that Roberts oversaw Cranbrook’s transformation “from a rough frontier settlement to the modern, well-regulated city it is today.”

Roberts leaned heavily on his experience as city clerk during his time as mayor. The Courier described his “tactfulness and undeniable gift of business shrewdness,” that made him perfect for the job.

“Under his skillful direction the corporation instituted a program of shrewd financing and civic improvement, the beneficial effects of which are in evidence today,” the Courier wrote.

Cranbrook has grown in many ways since Roberts was mayor, but the strong foundation set forth in those early council meetings set the city on its path.

Roberts welcomed many prestigious guests during his tenure including the Duke of Windsor, later King Edward VIII and Prince George, Duke of Kent. Many of Canada’s Governor Generals of the time visited Cranbrook with Roberts providing a welcome as well.

After 12 years of service to the city, Roberts was named Freeman of the City at a public ceremony in Rotary Park in 1938.

Beyond his civic duty, Roberts was an active member of the community, being a member of a number of different service organizations. He was the secretary of the first volunteer fire brigade in 1905, which was then under the command of J.P. Fink, Cranbrook’s first fire chief.

He was a member a number of Masonic organizations including the Cranbrook Lodge No. 34, Selkirk Preceptory and the Knights Templar.

Roberts retired from the mayor position in 1940 when his health began to deteriorate, but he continued to run a real estate and insurance business. He passed away on July 25, 1943 – just weeks after his wife Louise died on June 9 of the same year.

After Roberts’ death, the Union Jack was flown at half mast in his memory.

Just Posted

Former polygamous leader found guilty of removing a child from Canada

James Oler found guilty of removing an underage child from Canada to marry a U.S. man in 2004

Dog owner upset after five puppies stolen from Cranbrook home

Angelo Polh says a litter of puppies were taken from his home while he was away on May 11.

Local martial arts students head to worlds

Three Cranbrook athletes will be competing against the best at the USA World Championships

It happened this week in Cranbrook: 1912

Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Cranbrook Bandits battle it out in Montana

The junior and senior teams were successful south of the border going 2-2 and 3-0 respectively

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read