Memorable Manitobans: Octave Fortin (1842-1927)
Born at Iberville, Quebec, 5 January 1842, son of William and Sophia Fortin, he was educated at Sabrevor’s College, St. John, Quebec, Bishop’s College, Lennoxville, and McGill University (BA). He was ordained Deacon and Priest in 1865 and 1866, respectively. His first clerical charge was among the Abenaquis Indians of the St. Francis Reserve, Quebec, where he labored four years building a church parsonage. Afterwards he founded St. Judes’ Church in Montreal. He travelled in England for a year, representing the Colonial and Continental Church Society; that year he received a call to be assistant minister of Trinity Church Montreal, where he remained for three years. He then accepted an invitation to become rector of Holy Trinity at Winnipeg where he began his ministry on 11 November 1875.
He was a member of the St. John’s College Council from its inception. In 1877, he was a member of the First Convocation of the University of Manitoba. He also took part in the founding of the Winnipeg General Hospital, and for years was a member of its board. He was president of the Bible Society in the early days of its existence, and was one of the founders of St. Luke’s. St. Matthew’s and St. Philip’s Anglican Churches. He was the first Rural Dean of Selkirk, and in 1888 was promoted to the archdeaconry by Archbishop Machray. He was for some years professor of French literature at St. John’s College, until press of parochial duties compelled him to give up the job. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society.
In 1874, he married Margaretta Elizabeth Freer (c1852-1916), with whom he had two sons and three daughters.
He resigned his clerical work in 1917, having served Holy Trinity Church for 42 years, and retired to California where he died at Santa Monica in late 1927. His body was returned to Winnipeg for burial in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
“Funeral Mrs. Fortin largely attended,” Manitoba Free Press, 18 April 1916.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 April 2020
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