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Memorable Manitobans: William Nassau Kennedy (1839-1885)

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William Nassau Kennedy
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Soldier, Mayor of Winnipeg (1875-1876)

Born at Darlington, Ontario on 27 April 1839, he was educated at Peterborough, work for a time as a contractor, then began law studies. He came to Manitoba with the Red River Expedition under Colonel Wolseley, after which he remained at the Settlement as Registrar of Deeds. He was the second Mayor of Winnipeg, and a member of the first North-West Council. He was President of the Providence and Worcester Railroad, SWC Railroad, and North-West Fire Insurance Company. He commanded the Winnipeg Field Battery and the 90th “Winnipeg” Battalion of Rifles.

He was married to Mary Ann Chambers (?-?) with whom he had a daughter and four sons, including Charles William Nassau Kennedy. He was a member of the Winnipeg Philharmonic Society, Orange Lodge, and Grand Lodge of Manitoba.

He took a hundred voyageurs to serve with the British Army in the Nile expedition (1884-1885) and was appointed Paymaster of the Canadian Voyageur Contingent. He died of smallpox in London on 3 May 1885, en route home from the Sudan. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery with full military honours. He is commemorated by Kennedy Street in Winnipeg. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

From the Red to the Nile: William Nassau Kennedy and the Manitoba Contingent of Voyageurs in the Gordon Relief Expedition, 1884-1885 by Michael Bumsted
Manitoba History, Number 42, Autumn / Winter 2001-2002

Records of the Nile Voyageurs, 1884-1885 edited by C. P. Stacey(1959).

Canadians on the Nile, 1882-1898 by Roy MacLaren (1978).

William Nassau Kennedy, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XI, 471-73.

William Nassau Kennedy by Keith Wilson, Canadian Biographical Series, 1989.


The Canadian Album: Men of Canada or Success by Example, Vol. III, Bradley, Garretson & Company, Brantford, Ontario, 1894.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 3 August 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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