Roy McPhail was born at Acton, Ontario and came to Manitoba with his parents in 1901. His family settled on a farmstead near Brandon. At the age of 21, McPhail purchased his own land and was engaged in farming until 1927. For many years, he was a prominent figure in the farm organizations of the province.

In 1927, the Manitoba Co-operative Livestock Producers Ltd. was organized with McPhail as president. That same year, the M.C.L.P. and the Central Livestock Co-operative Ltd. started their own sales agency with McPhail spearheading the contract drive. His main concerns were to improve marketing methods and livestock quality for the benefit of all producers. In 1929, the Central Livestock Co-operative Ltd. changed its name to Canadian Livestock Co-operative Ltd. In 1932, McPhail was appointed a member and chairman of the provisional board of the Canadian Livestock Co-operative (Western) Ltd. and at the first general meeting was elected a director and president.

For the years 1933 and 1934, he was president of the United Farmers of Manitoba. In 1937, the Canadian Livestock Sales Agencies was formed and McPhail became its first managing secretary. Organized to assist primary producers of livestock and to improve the public market system of selling it, the sales agencies achieved substantial success under McPhail’s management. McPhail also served as chairman of the Milk Control Board from 1941 to 1961.

McPhail’s community activities were numerous and never neglected, even though he headed provincial and even federal organizations. He was especially active in the United Church of Canada. Those who knew McPhail spoke of him with respect and deep admiration and considered themselves fortunate to have had his friendship.