Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Houston (1848-1938)


Born at Almont, Lanark County, Ontario on 4 June 1848, son of James Houston (1815-1894) and Janet Young (1817-1870), he grew up in Bruce County and received post-secondary training at the University of Toronto, obtaining an MA degree (1878). On 31 July 1878, he married Isabella [Isebella] Campbell “Belle” Keddie [Kiddie] (1856-1943) in Carleton County and they had six children: Eila Jessie Houston (1879-1894), Marie Campbell Houston (1880-?, wife of David Alexander Hopper), James Kirkness Houston (1884-?), Alek Keddie Houston (1886-1899), Lorne Wishart Houston (1889-1968), and John Dougal Houston (1898-1985). He taught at London Collegiate (?-1883) for a few years before coming with his family to Manitoba as Principal of Portage la Prairie Collegiate (1883-1885). He also served on the Board of Examiners of Manitoba College (?-1885). Upon his decision to leave, he was fetted by the community in Portage la Prairie on 23 October 1885. Returning to Ontario, he continued teaching at Brighton Collegiate and Clinton Collegiate.

He returned to Manitoba near the last quarter of 1908 and was briefly in partnership with James Houston [BA]. The duo advertised private tutoring across a range of academic subjects, with lessons held at 398 Victor Street in Winnipeg. He taught briefly at Manitoba College (c1909) and his family had a home on Roseberry Street (?-1911) in St. James before moving to 206 Ruby Street (c1912-c1930) in Winnipeg. During this time, they also maintained a summer residence called Nepahwin Cottage on the Assiniboine River. He taught at Wolseley School [Saskatchewan?] (c1912-c1913), and was Principal at Lyleton School (1915-1916) and Newdale School (1916-1919) before returning to his Winnipeg residence, though he is reported to have kept teaching into the 1920s. His retirement came with over 50 years in the classroom to his credit, including an undefined period where he taught in Saskatchewan (?-?) and British Columbia (?-?), including as English Master at a high school in Victoria. He continued to reside at his family’s Ruby Street home and was a member of the Knox Presbyterian Church.

On 18 August 1930, he was involved in a vehicle-pedestrian accident while driving along Beverley Street. A child, Eileen Frances Margaret Folliott (1926-1930), ran from behind a parked car into the roadway in front of his vehicle. The resulting collision knocked Eileen down and left her with internal injuries along with several superficial wounds to the head. She was taken to Misericordia Hospital where, despite being initially reported in fair condition, she died a few days later. A coroner’s inquest, held on 28 by Dr. Henry M. Speechly, returned a verdict of accidental death and exonorated Houston. Trauma from the event nevertheless lingered and shortly thereafter he departed Winnipeg for his native Ontario.

He retired to Waterdown, Ontario where his daughter Marie resided, and died at her residence on 12 January 1938, with burial in the Waterdown Union Cemetery.


Ontario birth [John Dougal Houston] and death [Isebella Houston] registrations, Ancestry.

Death registrations [Lorne Wishart Houston], British Columbia Vital Statistics.

Birth [James Kenneth Houston] and death [Eileen Frances Margaret Folliott] registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1881, 1916, 1921, & 1926 Canada censuses, Library and Archives Canada.

1901 & 1911 Canada censuses, Automated Genealogy.

Attestation papers [Lorne Wishart Houston], Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“London [Resigned, Mr. John Houston],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 14 April 1883, page 1.

“City and Province [Mr. John Houston],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 27 April 1883, page 8.

“University Council,” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 10 March 1885, page 4.

“Portage la Prairie [Farewell to Houston],” Manitoba Daily Free Press, 26 October 1885, page 1.

“Educational [Private tuition],” Manitoba Free Press, 1 October 1908, page 13.

“Educational [Private tuition],” Manitoba Free Press, 22 October 1908, page 16.

“Educational [Private tuition],” Manitoba Free Press, 17 December 1908, page 16.

“Society [Mr. John Houston],” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 June 1911, page 9.

“Social and personal [Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Tomkins ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 13 July 1929, page 5.

“Houston - Tomkins,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 August 1929, page 6.

“Social and personal [Mr. and Mrs. John Houston, Ruby Street ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 12 February 1930, page 8.

“Unknown main is killed; four injured,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 August 1930 page 5.

“Accidental death verdict returned,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 August 1930, page 6.

“John Houston dies in Ontario,” Times Colonist [Victoria, British Columbia], 14 January 1938, page 2.

“Former Sask. teacher,” Regina Leader-Post, 15 January 1938, page 2.

“Picked up in passing [John Houston],” Lethbridge Herald, 15 January 1938, page 20.

“John Houston, pioneer School Principal, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 January 1938, page 20.

Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 15 January 1938, page 6.

Obituary [L. Wishart Houston], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 1968, page 33.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

Waterdown Union Cemetery burial transcriptions, FindAGrave.

Houston family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 12 August 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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