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Memorable Manitobans: Duncan Wendell McDermid (1858-1909)

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Duncan Wendell McDermid
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Born in Martintown, Ontario, and educated in the public schools there, his education of the deaf mute was his life work and he came to be recognized as one of the foremost authorities in North America. He commenced as a clerk in the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb at Belleville, Ontario and after completion of study of deaf mute education he joined the teaching staff. Five years later he became a teacher in the Iowa State Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.

In 1890 he was appointed Principal of the Deaf and Dumb Institute in Manitoba. He served as Superintendent of the Western Chatauqua Assembly which met annually in the summer at Council Bluffs, Iowa. He did research and experiments in the field of hypnotism as a possible aid in surgery and for the cure of nervous troubles, such as stammering. He wrote a history of the early years of the Manitoba institution for the education of the deaf and dumb, which was published in E. A. Fay (editor), Histories of American Schools for the Deaf, 1817-1893 (volume 3, 1893).

He served as President of the Associated Charities of Winnipeg, arranging for the purchase of a building for its headquarters. Other offices he held were Director of the Winnipeg General Hospital, President of the Manitoba Club (he was responsible for the planning and completion of the Club’s headquarters on Broadway), one of the organizers and a President of the Winnipeg Golf Club, President and member of the Board of Governors, a founding member of the St. Charles Country Club, and President of the St. Andrew’s Society. He was Vice-Chairman of the local committee for the eight-day conference at Winnipeg, in August 1909, of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1882, he married Mary E. Lorenzen, and they had two children, including Howard J. McDermid.

He was a member of the Centennial Exposition Committee (Canadian Exposition and Selkirk Centennial, 1812-1912; plans for this were not completed). A mason and holder of the thirty-third degree in the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, in 1897 he was Worshipful Master of Prince Rupert Lodge No. 1, and in 1901 was District Deputy Grand Master for District No. 1.

He died at Winnipeg on 12 September 1909 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

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: 29 November 2014

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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