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Memorable Manitobans: Niel Blue Gillies (1838-1912)


Born in the Parish of Kilcalmonell and Kilberry, Kintyre Penninsula, Scotland on 22 August 1838, youngest of eleven children born to Hugh Gillies and Mary Blue, his family immigrated to Canada in 1852 and settled on a farm in Elderslie Township, Bruce County, Ontario. The area is still known today as Gillies Hill. The only member of his family to pursue further education, he graduated with a medical degree from Queen’s University in 1871. He practiced medicine at Chesley, Ontario and there married Jane “Jeannie” Galbraith (1852-1902). They would eventually have six children: Clarence Alexander Gillies (1876-1905), Belle Rowena Gillies (1877-1968), May Luella “Mayzie” Gillies (1880-1962), Jeannie Gillies (1881-1894), Rosa Donalda Gillies (1883-1887), and John Arrin Gillies (1889-1942).

Gillies moved to Winnipeg in 1881 or 1882 where he worked as a physician and surgeon. Two of their children died while the family lived there. He served as Medical Superintendent for the Brandon Asylum from 1894 to 1900, being dismissed in the latter year, along with several other high-ranking civil servants, by the provincial government of Hugh J. Macdonald.

Soon after, the family moved to Puerto Rico for health reasons but the climate there did not agree with his wife. They moved to Pueblo, Colorado where she and their eldest son died. On 31 January 1906, Gillies married Ethel E. Cook (?-?) and they made their home at Tulsa, Oklahoma where he died of stomach cancer on 23 October 1912. He was buried in Mountainview Cemetery at Pueblo, Colorado with his first wife.


1881 and 1891 Canada censes, Ancestry.

Ontario birth registrations [May Luella Gillies, Jeannie Gillies], Ancestry.

Manitoba birth registration [Rosa Gillies], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Manitoba death registrations [Donalda Gillies, Jeannie Gillies], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Complimentary dinner,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 November 1894, page 4.

“Dr. McFadden gets the job,” Brandon Western Sun, 13 September 1900, page 1.

“Deluge of dismissals,” Manitoba Free Press, 1 October 1900, page 1.

“City and general,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 October 1900, page 8.

This page was prepared by Mary MacKay and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 September 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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