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Memorable Manitobans: Stuart Sinclair Garson (1898-1977)

MLA (1927-1932), MLA (1933-1936), MLA (1937-1940), MLA (1941-1945), Click to enlargePremier of Manitoba (1943-1948), MLA (1946-1949), MP (1945-1949), MP (1949-1953), MP (1953-1957).

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario on 1 December 1898, son of William Corston Watt Garson and Margaret Annable, he came to Manitoba with his parents in 1901. He attended Fort Rouge School and, in 1918, received an LLB from the University of Manitoba and was called to the bar a year later. He practised law in Ashern from 1919 to 1928, and served as municipal administrator for the Rural Municipality of Woodlea from 1926 to 1930. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1935.

In 1927 he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for Fairford, beating A. W. Kirvan, being re-elected in 1932, 1936, 1941, and 1945. He served as Provincial Treasurer (September 1936 to November 1948), Minister of Telephones and Minister of the Power Commission (1941), Premier and Minister of Dominion-Provincial Relations (January 1943 to November 1948).

Concerned with the need for new financial arrangements for the province with the federal government, he advocated a federal royal commission to resolve the constitutional and financial impasse. In 1941 he added the telephone ministry and the Manitoba Power Commission to his portfolios. When John Bracken entered federal politics in 1943, Garson succeeded him as premier. Garson remained as provincial treasurer and also became minister for Dominion-provincial relations.

He ran a budget surplus, while concentrating on rural highway construction and rural electrification. He jumped to federal politics in December 1948 when he was elected in a by-election for the federal constituency of Marquette, becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney General (November 1948 to June 1957). He was defeated in the 1957 election, and he stepped down from politics to practise law. In 1964, he was given a Manitoba Golden Boy Award for meritorious community service. He became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1971. The University of Manitoba awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1947.

He died on 5 May 1977.

See also:

Stuart Garson and the Manitoba Progressive Coalition by Mark E. Vajcner
Manitoba History, no. 26 (autumn 1993): 29-35.

“Stuart S. Garson, 1943-1948 ” by Raymond Blake in Manitoba Premiers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Barry Ferguson and Robert Wardhaugh, Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2010.

Sources:

“Eight Manitoba lawyers are appointed as King’s Counsel in Honors List”, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1935, page 1.

The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867 - 1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 July 2012

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