Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Crawford Downie (1864-1942)


Born at Exeter, Ontario in 1864, son of Richard and Mary Downie, he came to Crystal City in 1880 with his parents. As soon as he was old enough he homesteaded and farmed until 1889. He then moved to Winnipeg and joined the Police Force. He was appointed Chief Turnkey in the Provincial Goal (1891) then Special Deport Officer in the Department of Immigration also in charge of Immigration Hall (1908). He returned to the Provincial Goal as Chief Turnkey, served from 1915 to 1919, then was appointed to Governor of the Provincial Gaol in July 1919, succeeding William H. Lindsay, serving in this position until his retirement in April 1938.

He was married twice, first in 1886 to Miss L. E. Best then in 1920 to Mrs. Lena M. Turner in 1920. He had two sons and two daughters. He was a member of the AF & AM (Capitol Lodge) R.A.M., King Edward Preceptory; a member of Clan Stewart, O.S.C. (Deputy Royal Chief), honorary member of the Lux in Tenebris Club (Blind) and the 18th Troop Boy Scouts, and a member of the United Church. In 1925, he lived at 161 Vaughan Street, Winnipeg.

He died at Winnipeg on 25 December 1942 and was buried in Old Kildonan Cemetery.


Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

“John C. Downie, former jail governor, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 December 1942. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9, page 122]

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 12 April 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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