Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Jake MacDonald (1949-2020)

Author, playwright.

Born at Winnipeg on 6 April 1949, one of seven children of Peggy and Donald MacDonald, arthritis contracted in his late teens impaired his mobility for the rest of his life. He graduated from St. Paul’s High School (1967) and the University of Manitoba (1971), after which he worked as a carpenter and fishing guide before becoming a full-time writer. He wrote numerous columns for Canadian newspapers and magazines, and wrote or edited at least fourteen books, most of which had outdoor themes: Indian River (1981), The Bridge Out of Town (1986), Two Tickets to Paradise (1990), Raised by the River (1992), Lakes, Lures & Lodges: An Angler’s Guide to Western Canada (1993), Juliana and the Medicine Fish (1997), The Lake: An Illustrated History of Manitobans’ Cottage Country (2001), Houseboat Chronicles: Notes from a Life in Shield Country (2002), With the Boys: Field Notes on Being a Guy (2005), Grizzlyville: Adventures in Bear Country (2009), The Fort Whyte Story: Human. Nature. (2009), Casting Quiet Waters: Reflections on Life and Fishing (2014), Frontier Vision: The Rebirth of the North West Company (2014), and Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour (2017). He also contributed to Faces of the Flood: Manitoba’s Courageous Battle Against the Red River (1998) and Far From Home: Essays Beyond the Comfort Zone (2014). In 2019, he wrote his first play, The Cottage. He received numerous awards for his writing, including the Pearson Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction (2002), McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (2002), Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making a Mark Award (2019). In 1981, he married Carolyn McKinnon and they had a daughter during their six years together. During the 1990s, he was married to Sally Kendall of Kenora, Ontario. He died accidentally at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on 30 January 2020.


Family, colleagues mourn loss of acclaimed Winnipeg writer Jake MacDonald,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 February 2020.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 8 February 2020.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 April 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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