Memorable Manitobans: Marc Amable Girard (1822-1892)
MLA (1871-1874), MLA (1875-1878), MLA (1879-1883), Premier of Manitoba (1871-1872, 1874), Senator.
Born at Varennes, Lower Canada, in 1822, the son of Amable Girard and Josephte Daunais Girard. He was educated at the parish school and later at St. Hyacinthe. He was married in 1878 in the Cathedral of Montreal to Marie Louise Aurelie La Mothe, widow of the late Alfred Versailles. They had two children.
On completing college Girard studied law and practised in Varennes until August 1870. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Montarville in Canada East in 1858, and for Hochelaga in the Canadian Assembly in 1862. During these 26 years he filled the position of county councillor, Mayor of Varennes Village, and secretary-treasurer of the school board.
He left for Manitoba in 1870, along with Archbishop Taché and Joseph Royal. A Conservative in politics, he represented St. Boniface in the Provincial Legislature from December 1870, and was Provincial Treasurer from 1870 to 1872. In 1871 he was appointed to the Bar of Manitoba and on 13 December 1871 to the Senate of Canada. In 1872 he was appointed senior member of the Council of the North-West Territories. The change of the Canadian Pacific Railway from the narrows of Lake Manitoba to the south of the lake is in great part due to the efforts made by a special committee of the Senate which was formed at Girard’s request, and over which he presided during two consecutive sessions.
From July to 9 December 1874, he was Premier of Manitoba and also Provincial Secretary. Acclaimed in the 1874 and 1879 general elections, he was a member of the Norquay government, first as Provincial Secretary and then as Minister of Agriculture. A personable man, he did not provide strong leadership, and gradually faded from the public scene.
He was the first President of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Manitoba and President of the Society of Colonization and Selkirk Agricultural Society.
He died at St. Boniface on 12 September 1892 and was buried in the St. Boniface Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated (with a misspelling) by Gerard Street in Winnipeg.
“The street named for a serene gentleman” by Harry Shave, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 April 1965.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 April 2022