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Memorable Manitobans: John Michael “Jack” Bumsted (1938-2020)

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John Michael “Jack” Bumsted
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Historian, bookseller.

Born at White Plains, New York on 12 December 1938, he received a BA degree from Tufts University in 1958 and a PhD in History from Brown University in 1965. He moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1965 to take an assistant professorship at the newly opened Simon Fraser University. In 1980, he moved to Winnipeg to teach at the University of Manitoba until retirement in 2007, serving as Director of the Institute of the Humanities (1996-1998) and Dean of Studies of St. John’s College. He wrote over 30 popular and scholarly books on Canadian history, including:

  • The Flood of 1950: An Illustrated History (1993)
  • The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919: An Illustrated History (1994)
  • Red River Rebellion: An Illustrated History (1996)
  • Floods of the Centuries: A History of Flood Disasters of the Red River Valley 1776-1997 (1997)
  • Dictionary of Manitoba Biography (1999)
  • Fur Trade Wars: The Founding of Western Canada (1999)
  • Thomas Scott's Body: Essays on Early Manitoba History (2000)
  • The University of Manitoba: An Illustrated History (2001)
  • Louis Riel V. Canada: The Making of a Rebel (2001)
  • Reporting the Resistance: Alexander Begg and Joseph Hargrave on the Red River Resistance (2003)
  • Trials and Tribulations: The Emergence of Manitoba 1821-1870 (2003)
  • Lord Selkirk: A Life (2008)

An authority on Lord Selkirk, his definitive biography Lord Selkirk: A Life won the 2009 Dafoe Book Prize, presented by The J.W. Dafoe Foundation, in recognition of the best non-fiction book about Canada and its place in the world. He served as President of the Manitoba Historical Society (2006-2008). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2003) and a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. In retirement, he was a bookstore proprietor until his death.

He was married twice, first to Patience Bumsted with whom he had four children. He had two more children with his second wife Wendy Owen.

He died at his Winnipeg home on 25 January 2020. A collection of his papers are at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.

His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

The Quest for a Usable Founder: Lord Selkirk and Manitoba Historians, 1856-1923
Manitoba History
, Number 2, 1981

Review: Robert Bothwell, Ian Drummond and John English, Canada since 1945: Power, Politics and Provincialism
Manitoba History, Number 5, 1983

The Victorian Family in Canada in Historical Perspective: The Ross Family of Red River and the Jarvis Family of Prince Edward Island
Manitoba History, Number 13, Spring 1987

Review: Canada Needs You, Volume 1
Manitoba History, Number 49, June 2005

President’s Message
Time Lines, Volume 38, Number 5, July/August 2006

President’s Message
Time Lines, Volume 38, Number 6, September/October 2006

President’s Message (PDF)
Time Lines, Volume 39, Number 1, November/December 2006

President’s Message (PDF)
Time Lines, Volume 39, Number 2, January/February 2007

President’s Message (PDF)
Time Lines, Volume 39, Number 3, March/April 2007

Review: Louis A. Knafla and Jonathan Swainger (eds.), Law and Societies in the Canadian Prairie West, 1670-1940
Manitoba History, Number 53, October 2006

Review: Jack Walker, edited by Duncan Fraser, The Great Canadian Sedition Trials: The Courts and the Winnipeg General Strike, 1919-1920
Manitoba History, Number 54, February 2007

Lord Selkirk and his Agents
The Forks and the Battle of Seven Oaks in Manitoba History


Obituary [Eleanor Williams], Winnipeg Free Press, 12 November 2000.

Biography of J. M. Bumsted, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 February 2020.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 17 February 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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