Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William John James (1844-1903)


Born at Sydney, Australia in 1844, of Welsh immigrant parents, he attended Oxford and Cambridge universities, receiving a legal education at the latter. In 1871, soon after graduation, he immigrated to Canada and eventually settled at Portage la Prairie where he established a law practice and served as a Bencher for the Law Society of Manitoba (1886-1889). In addition to his legal work, he also operated farms at Poplar Point and High Bluff. He served for 16 years on the Portage City Council, was a local magistrate, and a member of the school board. He was a candidate for the Portage la Prairie constituency in the December 1874 provincial general election. His wife was Annie Ironside Simpson (1858-1952) of Sault Ste. Marie, a niece of George Simpson. They had five children: Godfrey Wallwyn Wemyss James (1884-1885), Eric Wallwyn McDonald James (1885-?), Norman Valentine James, Dorothy Emma Elizabeth James (1889-?, wife of A. E. Hoskin), and Isabelle James (?-?). He died at Portage la Prairie on 26 February 1903. His widow later remarried, in 1908, to H. J. Cowan.


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Death of W. J. James,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 February 1903, page 2.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

Tread of the Pioneers by J. H. Metcalfe, 1932.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 August 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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