Memorable Manitobans: William Gomez da Fonseca (1823-1905)
Merchant, municipal official.
Born at Santa Croix in the Danish West Indies, perhaps of Creole background. His full name was Don Derigo Nojada Gomez da Silva Fonseca. He migrated to New York, where he became an American citizen, then moved to Wisconsin and Minnesota and, in 1860, to Winnipeg. With the capital obtained from the load of goods he had transported from Minnesota, he purchased a lot on Maple Avenue where the old family home was located for many years. The original building was a log cabin used both as a store and for living quarters.
He lectured on the West Indies and was regarded highly enough to be considered for the post of American consul that went to Oscar Malmros. In 1869 he was carting and freighting. He was arrested by Louis Riel on 13 December and released two days later upon the surrender of his American citizenship papers.
In 1876 he began publication of the Manitoba Weekly Herald which proved unprofitable and was discontinued after a short time. He assisted in planning the streets in the northern part of Winnipeg and named many thoroughfares. His property investments comprised most of Point Douglas. He prepared a bird’s-eye map of the city. He believed in the navigability of Hudson Bay and wrote a lengthy review of the subject. He endeavoured to further the interest of the Hudson Bay Railroad. He served as a Winnipeg City Alderman for the North Ward for six terms, a member of the Church of England, and a vestryman in St. John’s Cathedral for 36 years.
In 1865 he married Margaret Ann Logan, a daughter of Thomas Logan and a niece of Alexander Logan. They had ten children: Mrs. G. G. Nagy, Benjamin G. Fonseca, Albert G. Fonseca, Alfred G. Fonseca, Mrs. A. F. McClellan, Alfonso G. Fonseca, Margaret Fonseca, Sarestha Gomez Fonseca (1880-?), Gordon Leslie Fonseca (1882-?), and Elsidore Fonseca.
His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“A pioneer passes into eternity,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 April 1905, page 8.
“Early settler of city dead,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 April 1905, page 10.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 16 June 2017
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