Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Maris Henry Garton (1891-1973)

Lawyer, magistrate.

Born at Gladstone on 19 March 1891, son of William J. Garton and Laura E. Nash, at the age of 13 he moved to Winnipeg with his parents. He played rugby at St. John’s School and St. John’s College, competitive hardball, and in 1911 set a track record of 4.41 minutes for the mile at the University of Manitoba (BA 1913). He studied at the Manitoba Law School. During the First World War, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914 and served until he was wounded in 1916. From 1916 to 1919, he was a member of the staff for the Canadian Minister of Overseas Forces at London, England.

Returning from military service, he was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1920 and became a partner in the Winnipeg law firm of MacVicar and Garton, practicing until 1927 when he moved to Boissevain where he practiced with E. F. Willis. He served as the Mayor of Boissevain in 1940. Later that year, he was appointed a recruiting officer with the 101st militia training centre at Brandon. At the conclusion of the Second World War, in 1945, he became a police court magistrate for the City of Winnipeg, in which capacity he was known to be patient and kind to witnesses. He was made a Queen’s Counsel in January 1959.

He served for several years on the Board of Governors for the Manitoba division of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, and was a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment for Metro Winnipeg. He retired from the bench in December 1961 but two years later came out of retirement on a part-time basis. In 1963, he was appointed the city’s first night court magistrate. He retired for a second time in June 1968. He received a Manitoba Centennial Medal in 1970 in recognition of his record of having served the longest tenure of any magistrate in Manitoba.

Garton was a long-time curler at the Granite Club and gardened in his spare time. He was a Mason and an Anglican. He and wife Vera had four children: Pamela Constance Garton (wife of Donald MacIvor), John McConnell Garton (1919-1965), Richard Maris Garton (1926-1974), and Major-General William M. Garton.

He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 23 July 1973 and was buried in St. John’s Cemetery.


Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“A patient magistrate,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 September 1948. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 51]

“Magistrate M. H. Garton retiring from city police court duties,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 November 1961.

“Old hand may guide new court,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 1963, page 1.

Obituary [John McConnell Garton], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 September 1965, page 27.

“Garton retires after 40 years,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 June 1968.

Obituary [Vera Garton], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 1972, page 39.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 25 July 1973, page 33.

Obituary [Richard Maris Garton], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 March 1974, page 35.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden, Nathan Kramer, and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 December 2014

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