Memorable Manitobans: Martin Joseph “Joe” Forkin (1899-1962)
Radical, municipal official.
Born at Leeds, England on 26 August 1899, he came with his family to Brandon in 1912, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1917 and went overseas but was declared too young and was returned to England. He became secretary-treasurer of the Brandon unit of the Provincial Employment Association in 1922 and the secretary of the Brandon Unemployed Workers’ Council in 1927; both organizations were associated with the Communist Party. He ran as a Communist candidate in North Winnipeg in 1930 and organized mine workers in Saskatchewan in 1931. Two years later he ran for Mayor of Winnipeg on the Winnipeg Workers’ Election Conference ticket against John Queen, receiving 4,745 votes. Forkin was finally elected to office in 1934 as Winnipeg City Alderman in Ward Three, serving until 1940. He was re-elected to city council in 1942, and remained a councillor until his death, serving as Chairman of the Committee of War Effort, Vice-Chairman of the Library Board, and a member of the Health Improvements Committee. A Labour Progressive candidate in the 1953 federal general election, he came in a distant fourth place. He died at the Winnipeg General Hospital on 21 January 1962 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
“Aldermanic candidates Ward 3,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 November 1943, page 3.
“Alderman 22 years, M. J. Forkin dies at 62,” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 January 1962, page 2.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 13 November 2017