Robert Henry Winters PC (August 18, 1910 – October 10, 1969) was a Canadian politician and businessman.

Robert Winters
Winters, c. 1942-48
Minister of Trade and Commerce
In office
January 4, 1966 – March 29, 1968
Prime MinisterLester B. Pearson
Preceded byMitchell Sharp
Succeeded byJean-Luc Pepin (acting)
Minister of Public Works
In office
September 7, 1953 – June 20, 1957
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byWalter Harris (acting)
Succeeded byHoward Charles Green
Minister of Resources and Development
In office
January 18, 1950 – September 16, 1953
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJean Lesage
Minister of Reconstruction and Supply
In office
November 15, 1948 – January 17, 1950
Prime MinisterLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byC. D. Howe
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of Parliament
for York West
In office
November 8, 1965 – June 24, 1968
Preceded byRed Kelly
Succeeded byPhilip Givens
Member of Parliament
for Queens--Lunenburg
(Lunenburg; 1949–1953)
(Queens--Lunenburg; 1945–1949)
In office
June 11, 1945 – June 10, 1957
Preceded byJohn James Kinley
Succeeded byLloyd Crouse
Personal details
Robert Henry Winters

(1910-08-18)August 18, 1910
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedOctober 10, 1969(1969-10-10) (aged 59)
Monterey, California, U.S.
Political partyLiberal
Eleanor McRobie
(m. 1936)
  • Engineer
Military service
Branch/serviceCanadian Army
Years of service1939–1945
UnitRoyal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Battles/warsWorld War II

Life and career


Born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the son of a fishing captain, Winters went to Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and then to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to complete his degree in electrical engineering. He worked for Northern Electric before joining the army in World War II, eventually becoming a lieutenant-colonel. He was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1945 general election as a Liberal for the riding of Queens—Lunenburg in Nova Scotia. Winters was appointed to Cabinet in 1948, and served as minister of public works, among other portfolios, under Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent.

Defeated along with the St. Laurent government in the 1957 election, Winters entered the corporate world, becoming a chief executive officer at a series of companies. He was hired as a special advisor to the Newfoundland government to help negotiate the Churchill Falls deal, for which he became highly popular in that province.

He was persuaded to return to politics by Lester Pearson, and won the Toronto seat of York West in the 1965 election, becoming minister of trade and commerce in Pearson's government. He was seen as close to the business community and far more fiscally conservative than Walter L. Gordon. He originally announced that he would not seek to replace the retiring Pearson, but changed his mind and ran to succeed Pearson at the 1968 Liberal leadership convention, coming in second to Pierre Trudeau.

Winters then left politics, to become president and director of Brazilian Light and Power and a vice president of CIBC. Also, he was very involved in the new York University and served as the first chair of its board of governors.



In 1969, while in California, he suffered a heart attack during a game of tennis. He died at age 59 in an ambulance on his way to hospital.

Winters College at York University is named in his honour.

Electoral record

1965 Canadian federal election: York West
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Robert H. Winters 43,807 47.7 -3.7
Progressive Conservative George Hogan 27,071 29.5 -0.9
New Democratic Martha Brewin 20,993 22.9 +5.5
Total valid votes 91,871 100.0
1949 Canadian federal election: Lunenburg
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal Robert Henry Winters 8,829
Progressive Conservative Melbourne Morton Gardner 7,527
Co-operative Commonwealth George Herbert Crouse 574


  • Marble, A.E. Nova Scotians at home and abroad: biographical sketches of over six hundred native born Nova Scotians (1977) pp. 409–10 ISBN 0-88999-074-3
  • Robert Winters – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Robert Winters fonds, Library and Archives Canada
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by Minister of Reconstruction and Supply
Succeeded by
The office of Minister of Reconstruction and Supply was abolished.
Preceded by
Minister of Resources and Development
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Trade and Commerce
Succeeded by