Memorable Manitobans: Elizabeth Beckett Scott Matheson (1866-1958)
Born in Ontario on 6 January 1866, daughter of James Scott and Elizabeth Beckett, her grandfather, James Scott, a native of Fyfe, Scotland, came to Canada in 1835 and farmed in Northumberland County, Ontario. Her father came to Manitoba in 1878 and homesteaded near Morris. In early life, she taught at Sunnyside School (1883-1884) and Poplar Point School (1884) then started her medical education at Kingston, Ontario before spending two years in India as a missionary with the Presbyterian Ladies Missionary Society. She contracted malaria on the way to India and returned to Canada.
In 1891, she married Reverend John Richard “John Grace” Matheson (1848-1916), an Anglican cleric (first cousin of Archbishop Matheson) and moved with him to Onion Lake, Saskatchewan. They worked in missionary service among Aboriginal people and he was Principal of the Indian School there. They eventually had nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood: Gladys Elizabeth Matheson (1892-1991, wife of Stirling M. Crim), Caroline Emma “Riema” (1894-1955, wife of Ernest Goodman), Letitia Matheson (1896-1982, wife of Egerton Henry Hollis Lester), Helen Grace Matheson (1899-1989, wife of William J. Anderson), Edith Eleanor Matheson (1901-1904), Selkirk Edward “Ted” Matheson (1903-1991, husband of Marjorie Ellis Burrows), Jean Ruth Matheson (1905-2007, wife of Geoffrey J. Buck), Emily Agnes Kathleen Matheson (1908-1981, wife of Edgar Sharpe Fallis), and John Richard Matheson (1910-1911).
In 1895, she enrolled in the Manitoba Medical School but withdrew when she became pregnant. She went to Toronto, Ontario in 1896 to attend the Trinity College Medical School, graduating in 1898. She completed an additional year of medical studies at the University of Manitoba, becoming one of the first female students at the University, and the second woman medical graduate. She returned to Winnipeg in 1904 and received a second medical degree. In 1918, she returned to Winnipeg again and was appointed Assistant to Dr. Mary Crawford with the Winnipeg School Board, and Medical Officer of the George Seale Division of St. John’s Ambulance. The family resided at 70 Maryland Street (1920-1936). She was a member of the Manitoba Medical Association, Canadian Club, and Women’s Professional and Business Club.
She died at San Antonio, Texas on 15 January 1958 and was buried with her husband at Onion Lake, Saskatchewan.
1901 and 1911 Canada censuses, Automated Genealogy.
“Striking figure of western Canada dies at Onion Lake,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 August 1916, page 4.
Attestation papers [Gladys Elizabeth Matheson], Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 1958, page 23.
Obituary [Gladys Elizabeth Crim], Winnipeg Free Press, 24 July 1991, page 29.
The Selkirk Settlers of Red River and their Descendants 1812-1997, Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert's Land, 1997.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank A. Elizabeth Matheson (great-granddaughter of E. B. Matheson) and George Stewart for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 20 November 2020