Manitoba Historical Society
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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 Jennie Emily Arthur (1849-1936) of Goderich, Ontario and they had five children: David Arthur Girvin (1882-?), Frederick H. Girvin (1885-?), Hattie Pearson Girvin (1888-?, wife of William Ernest Leonard), May Godfrey Girvin (1888-?, wife of Ernest Manuel Payne), and Ada Glenn Girvin (?-?, wife of William John Bartram). He was a Mason (Scottish Rite). He died at his Winnipeg home, 356 Carlton Street, on 6 May 1931 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.

Some of the Manitoba buildings that his firm constructed:





Central Congregational Church

Hargrave Street, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)

Paulin-Chambers 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 (?)

Cockshutt Plow Building (with Robert Watson)

238 Princess Street, Winnipeg



Miller-Morse Building (with P. Burnett)

317 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg



Paulin-Chambers Building (expansion; with P. Burnett)

311 Ross Avenue, Winnipeg



Tees & Persse Warehouse

Princess Street, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)

Leadlay Building (with W. J. Hodgins)

306-310 Ross Avenue, Winnipeg



Fairchild Building

110 Princess Street, Winnipeg



Allen House

6 Roslyn Road, Winnipeg



Galt Warehouse

334 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg



Enderton Block

Portage Avenue, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)

Paulin-Chambers Building (expansion; with P. Burnett)

311 Ross Avenue, Winnipeg



Congdon Marsh Building

86-88 Princess Street, Winnipeg




Marriage registration, Ancestry.

Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 7 May 1931.

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

Obituary [Jennie E. Girvin], Winnipeg Tribune, 13 October 1936, page 22.

Paulin-Chambers Building, 311 Ross Avenue, Winnipeg Historical Buildings & Resources Committee, July 2018.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 19 March 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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