Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Mary Ellen Dunn (1872-1928)

Community activist, police officer.

Born at Ottawa, Ontario on 29 June 1872, daughter of Michael Halpin (?-?) and Margaret Mann (1835-?), she married William Henry Dunn (1868-1913) on 14 April 1890, at Ottawa, and they subsequently had eleven children: Kathleen Dunn (1893-?), Ethel Dunn (1895-?), Beatrice Anna Dunn (1895-?), Louisa Dunn (1897-?), Gerald Michael Dunn (1900-?), Wilfred James Dunn (1902-?), Vera Isabel Dunn (1906-?), Normal Percival Dunn (1908-?), Shirley Teresa Dunn (1909-?), Margaret Helen Dunn (1910-?), and William Henry Dunn (1911-?).

She came to Winnipeg with her family in 1905 and was active in charitable and social work as a member of the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Christian Mothers Confraternity, Foster Home Committee, Providence Shelter for Children’s Aid, Catholic Women's League, and Winnipeg Red Cross. Following the death of her husband, she supported her family as one of the first two female officers with the Winnipeg Police Department, along with Jane Andrews, appointed in December 1916. She married again, on 19 April 1920, to former policeman Joseph Guertin (?-1921). Within 18 months of their marriage, her second husband was killed in a railway accident.

She died at the Misericordia Hospital on 29 January 1928 and was buried in the St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Ontario marriage registration, Ancestry.

1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

Obituary [William Dunn], Winnipeg Tribune, 20 August 1913, page 10.

“Police matrons are appointed,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 December 1916, page 5.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

“Former police officer killed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 November 1921, page 20.

“Mrs. M. Guertin, prominent city Catholic, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 January 1928, page 2.

Death registration [Mary Ellen Guertin], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

We thank Christian Cassidy for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 November 2020

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