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Memorable Manitobans: John Alexander Girvin (1851-1931)

Building contractor.

Born at Goderich, Ontario on 18 October 1851, he came to Winnipeg in 1877. His first winter was spent constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway from eastern Canada to Winnipeg, under Joseph Whitehead. The following year he took work with the lumber firm of Brown and Rutherford, staying there until he formed a construction business for himself. His firm built many of the city’s important buildings, including the Central United Church. He served for many years as President of the Builders’ Exchange, and was a member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade. On 24 March 1875, he married Jane Emily Arthur of Goderich, Ontario. They had five children: David Arthur Girvin (b 1882), Frederick H. Girvin (b 1885), Hattie Pearson Girvin (b 1888; Mrs. W. E. Leonard), May Godfrey Girvin (b 1888; Mrs. E. M. Payne), and Ada Glenn Girvin (Mrs. W. J. Bartram). He was a Mason (Scottish Rite). He died at his Winnipeg home, 356 Carlton Street, on 6 May 1931 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Some of the Manitoba buildings that his firm constructed:





Paulin-Chamber Company Building (with P. Burnett)

311 Ross Avenue, Winnipeg



YMCA Building (with P. Burnett)

276 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg



Bank of Hamilton Building (with P. Burnett)

395 Main Street, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)

Miller, Morse and Company Building (with P. Burnett)

317 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg




Marriage registration, Ancestry.

Obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 7 May 1931.

“John Girvin, pioneer contractor, expires,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 May 1931.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 May 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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