Memorable Manitobans: Julius Frazelle “Jeff Gee” Galbraith (1854-1934)

Journalist, farmer.

Born in Orangeville, Ontario on 27 January 1854, Galbraith apparently immigrated to Pennsylvania, later moving (in response to a typhoid outbreak) to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1873 to take a job as a compositor with the Manitoba Free Press newspaper. He later accepted a position as “local editor” with the rival Nor'Wester newspaper.

In 1875, responding to the growing land fever that gripped the Canadian North West frontier, he left Winnipeg to take up a homestead in the Pembina Hills area of southwestern Manitoba, near the town of Nelson (also sometimes called Nelsonsville). That same year, he married Sarah Ann Driver (?-?) at Nelson, and they subsequently had eight children. He was a candidate for the Pembina constituency in the 1878 provincial general election.

He did not give up writing for long. In September 1880, he founded the Manitoba Mountaineer, based at Nelson, one of the first English-language weekly newspapers outside Winnipeg. That same year, using the pseudonym “Jeff Gee,” he wrote the book A Sketch of Both Sides of Manitoba, an excerpt of which is available here.

By 1884, the heady days of Nelson were nearly over. Having been founded before the railway arrived in this part of Manitoba, Nelson became a ghost town when:

The route chosen for the southwestern branch [of the Canadian Pacific Railway] ran through Treherne, Holland, and Glenboro, far to the north of Nelson. But the crushing blow came when the Pembina branch was routed through Plum Coulee due west to Pilot Mound. The nearest station to Nelson was located in a boxcar four miles away to the south on the farm of Alvey Morden. [1]

The buildings at Nelson were picked up and moved to the railway line, which subsequently became the town of Morden. By October 1884, he had accepted the fate of his town and joined the exodus to Morden where the fifth of his children was born, in January 1886, and where he established the Manitoba News. In late March 1887, however, he closed the paper and, sometime before late 1888, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where he remained until mid-1896. He returned to Morden in late 1896 to resume a role with the Morden Chronicle newspaper, noting:

With the feelings of a traveler who had long sojourned in a strange land I returned to Morden a few weeks ago and was received with such manifest kindness, such unmistakable expressions of friendship from old associates as, to complete the simile, to make one realize that I had indeed ‘come home.’ [2]

Galbraith’s homecoming was short-lived. In 1901, citing poor health, he moved back to the West Coast where, on 24 February 1934, he died at Woodburn, Oregon.


1. The Story of Manitoba’s Weekly Newspapers by A. M. Pratt, Derksen Printers, Steinbach, c1967, page 190.

2. Ibid., Pratt, page 193.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 December 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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