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Memorable Manitobans: Francis Marion Beynon (1884-1951)

Journalist, writer, feminist.

Born at Streetsville, Ontario on 26 May 1884, one of seven children born to James Barnes Beynon (1835-1907) and Rebecca Manning (1848-1898), sister to Lillian Beynon Thomas and Howard Barnes Beynon, and second cousin to George William Beynon, she moved with her family to Manitoba in 1889, settling in the Hartney area, where her father farmed. The family was of staunch Methodist background, which she came to reject. Like three of her siblings, Beynon earned a teaching certificate. She taught near Carman before moving to Winnipeg in 1908 to work in the T. Eaton Company’s advertising department. She was an active member of the Quill Club.

In 1912, she became the first full-time women’s editor of the Grain Growers’ Guide, holding the post until 1917. She and her sister Lillian fought for a variety of women’s issues, including suffrage, dower legislation, and homesteading rights for women, but she lost much public credibility when she began to criticize the First World War. In 1917, she left Manitoba and spent the next five years in New York City and Providence, Rhode Island, where she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Aleta Day, and continued her journalistic work. She returned to Winnipeg in June 1922.

She died unmarried at Winnipeg on 5 October 1951 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery. She was one of the protagonists (with Nellie McClung) of Wendy Lill’s play The Fighting Days.

See also:

Francis Marion Beynon: The Forgotten Suffragist by Brie McManus
Manitoba History, Number 28, Autumn 1994

“Frances Beynon and The Guide,” by Anne Hicks, pages 41-52 in First Days Fighting Days: Women in Manitoba History, edited by Mary Kinnear, Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1987.

Sources:

Ontario birth registration, Ancestry.

Death registration [Rebecca Beynon], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

“Winnipeg writer, Frances Beynon, dies in hospital,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 October 1951. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10]

“Free Press Necrology Files,” Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, Box 15, File 16, University of Manitoba Archives]

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 January 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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