10-time North-West Champion

Free Press February 18, 1897
Magnus Smith on left, R.J. Spencer on right

Robert John Spencer was born in Churchill, Manitoba, in 1874. He moved to York Factory, Manitoba as a child, and then to Winnipeg, where he worked as a book keeper and accountant for a grain company. He married in 1906 and had five sons. Some time after the city of Flin Flon was founded by the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company (in 1927), he went there with the family. He was chess champion of Winnipeg and Manitoba (several times), Western Canada, and Northwestern Canada. In the Canadian national championship, he placed 2nd (1904), 4th (1913) and 3rd (1922). Source: https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=128251

 Tabanus: He must have played with James Frost Cross a lot.
1874: Born 1 May in Churchill, Manitoba (date from Manitoba Death Index plus 1901 Census, place from unsourced family trees)1881: very blurred copy, but Robert — Spencer, 7, fathers name John, lives in York Factory, Manitoba) (1881 Census of Canada)
1897: “Recently in the city an interesting game of chess was begun between Mr. Spencer, of Winnipeg, who holds the provincial championship, and Mr. N. H. Greenway ..” (Manitoba Morning Free Press, 21 April 1897, p. 5)1901: Ann J Spencer, Head, widowed, b. 12 Feb 1848 in England, immigrated 1854; Robert J., son, b. 1 May 1874 in —– (I can’t read it), bookeeper; Ellen A, 24; Emma M., 20 (1916 Census of Canada, Manitoba, Selkirk, Kildoman)
1904: Canadian Ch, 2nd place (http://chess.ca/canadian-championsh…)1906: Spencer Robt John, 32, Winnipeg, Bachelor, Clerk, born in Canada, married 20 June 1906 in York to Margaret Eva Lewis, 31, Toronto. (Ontario Marriages 1801-1928, County of York, 1906)1906: Marshall simul in Winnipeg. “At the afternoon session four players emerged victorious from the fray while fifteen lowered their colors in acknowledgment of defeat. … Mr. Marshall, having offered prizes to any who were successful in winning or drawing their games and also for the best game played against him … the following players will be entitled to receive awards, namely: Won Magnus Smith 1. R. J. Spencer 1. … will receive “The American Class Bulletin” for six months. … Mr. Marshall considered the best game played against him was that of R. J. Spencer, and awarded a prize chess board to that gentleman.” (Winnipeg Tribune, 3 Dec 1906, p. 6) (digital read copy)
1907: “Charles Blake, western chess champion, and R. J. Spencer, who held the title last year, have arranged to play a match at the chess club rooms, commencing Wednesday, June 5; play to continue on Mondays, Wedesdays and Fridays, in eash week until one player shall have scored five games, draws not counting.” (Manitoba Free Press, 13 April 1907, p. 35) (it ended 5-2 to Blake)
1907: (Heading for the Western Ch/US Open) “Mr. Spencer is a player of no mean ability; he has been successful in winning several prizes offered by the local chess club, and he also won the Western Canada championship in 1906.” (Manitoba Free Press, 17 Aug 1907, p. 12)1913: Canadian Ch, 4th place (http://chess.ca/canadian-championsh…)
1916: Robert Spencer, 42, book keeper grain Co., Margret, 40, John 9, George 7, Robert 5, Adam 2, Hugh 1, South Winnipeg (1916 Census of Canada)1917: “The conclusion of the Northwest chess tournament leaves R. J. Spencer as the champion of Northwest Canada for the year. Mr. Spencer, who is a member of the Winnipeg chess club, made a splendid showing and defeated all his opponents.” (Manitoba Free Press, 23 Feb 1917, p. 6)1921: Robert John Spencer, 47, Accountant grain —, Margret Eva, 45, John 14, George 11, Robert 9, Adam 7, Hugh 6, 668 McMillin Ave, South Winnipeg (1921 Census of Canada)1922: Canadian Ch, 3rd place (http://chess.ca/canadian-championsh…)
1923: “Twenty Five Years Ago. Our chess file and records show that 25 years ago the North West Championship was won by Mr. Chas. Blake of Brandon, and at that time a photograph was taken of him with five other N. W. champions. They were Robert J. Spencer, Palmaston Barry, John E. Craig, Ernest Potter and Herbert H. Burrell.” (Winnipeg Free Press, 31 July 1948, p. 9)
1936: “Abe Yanofsky, juvenile chess wizard, won 12 out of 14 games against strong players in an exhibition of simultaneous chess Tuesday evening in the Royal Alexandria hotel. Games were drawn by R. J. Spencer, holder of the northwest championship, who presented the lad with a book on chess; and by C. B. Battley.” (Winnipeg Free Press, 24 Sept 1936, p. 24)
1938: “A very interesting letter was received from the dean of the northwest champions, R. J. Spencer. Mr. Spencer is living with his family at Flin Flon, which he describes as the biggest town in Manitoba whose slogan is “The Metallic Star of the North.” (Winnipeg Free Press, 8 Oct 1938, p. 23)
1940: “On Oct. 4, 1940, at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Robert J. Spencer, beloved husband of Margaret E. Spencer. Funeral service was held Sunday afternoon, Oct. 6, at Flin Flon. Interment was made in the local cemetery.” (Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 7 Oct 1940, p. 16) (from http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.c…)

A son Hugh Phair Spencer died in WW II:

https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2042124

http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/flinflonwarmemorial.shtml

The names and timeline of the 1872 entry below suggest that John Robert and Ann were R.J.’s parents

http://www.redriverancestry.ca/SPENCER-JOHN-HODGES-1790.php