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Memorable Manitobans: John Alexander MacAulay (1892-1978)

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J. A. MacAulay
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Lawyer, businessman.

Born at Morden on 29 May 1892, son of Finlay MacAulay (1842-1918) and Margaret MacDonald (1860-1930), on the site of the Morden Experimental Farm, he received his BA and Master of Laws from the University of Manitoba. He served overseas in the First World War as a member of the Army Medical Corps, then became a lawyer with Aikins MacAulay and Thorvaldson. For many years he was Vice-President and Director of the Bank of Montreal. He was credited with bringing Canada Safeway Limited to Canada, serving as its Vice-President until his death. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1931.

A member of Westminister United Church, he taught one of the largest adult Bible classes in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s. He was President of the Manitoba Red Cross during the Second World War, and President of the Canadian Red Cross Assocaition from 1950 to 1951. He was active with the Winnipeg Art Gallery (1950-1953) and the National Art Gallery of Canada (1955-1957). He was President of the Canadian Bar Association in 1953-54 and was appointed a Companion to the Order of Canada in 1967. He was awarded the Centennial Medal of Honour by the Manitoba Historical Society in 1970. He was made an Honorary Patron of the Canadian Foundation of the International College of Surgeons in 1971. He was an active supporter and honorary life member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Manitoba (1954) and the University of Winnipeg (1970).

Brother-in-law of Andrew E. McGavin, and brother of Archibald MacAulay and M. E. MacAulay.


Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“Six Manitoba lawyers named King’s Counsel,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1931, page 1.

A Proud Heritage: A History of The St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg 1871-1982 by Thomas Saunders, Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers (1982).

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 19 December 2013

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