Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Ella MacTavish Kennedy (1886-1953)

Probation officer.

Born at Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia on 24 May 1886, daughter of John Matthew Kennedy and Ellen M. Reeves, she was educated at Pictou Academy (Nova Scotia) before coming to Winnipeg in 1906. She worked as a teacher in several rural schools then attended the Winnipeg Business College and took work as a stenographer. She became involved in social service work in March 1918, as a supervisor for mothers’ allowances in Winnipeg.

In 1919, she became Manitoba’s second female Probation Officer in the Juvenile Court, succeeding “Lizzie” Proctor, serving until retirement in November 1951. A champion against juvenile delinquency, she helped to organize the Four Square Club at the YWCA and the Big Sister Association of Greater Winnipeg. She was secretary for the Royal Templars of Temperance for 10 years. On 10 September 1913, she married Matthew Nedwill Kennedy (c1884-1917) at Winnipeg. They had no children.

She was visiting Vancouver, British Columbia when she became ill and died on 24 April 1953. Her body was returned to Winnipeg for burial in Brookside Cemetery.


Marriage and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

“First woman parole officer dies at 66,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 April 1953, page 34.

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 February 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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