Manitoba Historical Society
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No. 85


This Old


in Manitoba

Local History


Historic Sites
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Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Kelly (1855-1939)

Click to enlarge

Thomas Kelly
Click to enlarge

Building contractor.

Born in County Roscommon, Ireland on 7 August 1855, he emigrated to the United States in 1864 and was educated in Oneida County, New York. He commenced business in Winnipeg as a contractor in 1881 as a partner in the firm of Kelly Brothers, with his brothers Michael Kelly and Martin Kelly. In 1903 the firm of Kelly Brothers & Company was merged into The Manitoba Construction Company, of which company he was president and manager. After two years this firm went out of business and then Kelly formed the firm of Kelly Brothers, Mitchell, Limited, of which he became President and Manager. In 1908, he formed the firm of Thomas Kelly & Sons.

During the many years he has been in the contracting business the following are some of the more notable buildings that have been erected by him or by the firms of which he has been the head:





Dominion Post Office Building




Grain Exchange Building




Free Press Building




Imperial Bank




Bank of Toronto




Bank of Nova Scotia




Canadian Pacific Railway Shops




Canadian Northern Railway Shops




Kelly Building

181 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg



Has also constructed the substructures of several bridges across the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg. His company completed two of the more difficult contracts on the Shoal Lake Aqueduct: the crossing of the Red River from Tache to Pacific Avenue, and the crossing of the Brokenhead River and slough.

In 1882, he married Mary Margaret Corbett (1860-?) of Toronto. They had seven children: Robert Emmet Kelly (1884-?, husband of Bessie O. Noden), Charles Bernard Kelly (1886-?, husband of Cecilia Rochon), Thomas Harry Kelly (1888-1912), Laurence C. Kelly (1889-?), Maurice Vincent Kelly (1895-?), Francis O'Donohue Kelly (1897-?), and Mary Cecilia Kathleen Kelly (1898-?). He was a member of the St. Charles Country Club and Carleton Club.

He retired to Beverly Hills, California in 1924 and died there on 21 March 1939.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Kelly House (88 Adelaide Street, Winnipeg)


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

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

The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]

“Thomas Kelly, of parliament bldg. fame, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 March 1939, page 3.

“$25,000 estate left by Kelly,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 March 1939, page 3.

We thank David Ennis for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 March 2018

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