Rosser Avenue recognizes former Confederate General, Thomas Lafayette Rosser.
In 1881, as chief engineer of the CPR, he granted Selkirk’s fondest wish. For a price, he gave Selkirk a rail line, though such branches were against CPR policy.
Many thousands of extra dollars changed hands before track was laid. Within a year, Rosser was fired for corruption by Canadian Pacific Railway’s head Cornelius Van Horne.
By 1883, the branch line to Selkirk was built and the town which had languished in depression since 1879, was saved … and so were its main investors!
It is because Rosser saved the town, that Selkirk named a street in his honour. The Town was forced to incorporate in 1882, to pay for the bonus to the CPR. It almost bankrupted the Town in the 1890’s.
One of Brandon, Manitoba’s main streets was also named for Rosser and for the same reason as Selkirk. Rosser determined who would get a railroad and who wouldn’t, often for a bonus. Brandon wouldn’t exist except for Rosser’s “gift”. Rosser Road in Winnipeg, and the Municipality of Rosser share the influence that this Southern general had on Manitoba and its railway system.
Though he spent just a year working for the CPR, he had amassed a fortune of more than $130,000. He built a mansion that is still a tourist attraction in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Rosser and Custer
As a cadet at West Point, Rosser’s roommate was George Armstrong Custer. Rosser and Custer competed with each other and were on opposing sides in the American Civil War. Each won battles for their own side. They faced each other several times, demonstrating daring and courageous leadership.