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Manitoba History No. 90

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Memorable Manitobans of 2019
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Memorable Manitobans: William James Major (1881-1953)

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William James Major
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Lawyer, MLA (1927-1932), MLA (1933-1936), MLA (1937-1940), judge.

Born in Yeovil, Somerset, England on 10 November 1881, son of Job and Emily Major, he came to Canada in 1901 to farm. He read law in Winnipeg, was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1913, and ran for the Manitoba Legislature in 1927, 1932, and 1936. He became John Bracken’s Attorney General. He prepared Manitoba’s briefs to the Rowell-Sirois Commission and supervised Manitoba’s survey of enemy aliens in 1939 before the start of the Second World War. He also served as Minister of Telephones and Telegraphs (1929-1941), Municipal Commissioner (1936-1939), and Minister of Dominion-Provincial Relations (1940-1941). In 1941, he was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench and served until retirement in July 1951.

On 12 October 1904, he married Hedwig Kabel (?-?), daughter of Sophia Kabel of Winnipeg. They had three daughters: Mona Major (1905-?), Helen Fern Major (1909-?), and Vera Inez Major (1916-?). He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Winnipeg Rotary Club, and the Masons. He lived at 155 Helmsdale Avenue until around 1940.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 32 Cordova Street, on 13 August 1953 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.


Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1916 Canada census, Ancestry.

The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.

“Former Attorney-General Mr. Justice Major dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 August 1953, page 1.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 August 1953, page 20.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 June 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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