Memorable Manitobans: Hugh McGavin (1874-1958)
Physician, MLA (1927-1932).
Born at Paisley, Ontario on 14 November 1874, the second youngest of twelve children born to James McGavin and Elizabeth Wright, brother of Andrew Edward McGavin, his father died in 1877 of food poisoning after a church picnic so his uncle, Archibald Francis Wright, brought the McGavins west to join the rest of the family who were farming in the Rural Municipality of Springfield. He was educated at Winnipeg public schools, Winnipeg Collegiate, and Manitoba College. He taught school for two years in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley to earn his university tuition and, after graduating from the Manitoba Medical College in 1902, he practised medicine at Plum Coulee. He served as President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (1929). In 1963, he was among ten doctors received into senior membership of the Canadian Medical Association.
He was a candidate for the Rhineland constituency in the 1910 provincial general election but was defeated. He was elected for the Morden-Rhineland constituency at the 1927 general election then was defeated in 1932. During his tenure as an MLA, he won a debate which settled the controversy over immunization for diphtheria. He was quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press as saying, “If you don’t use antitoxin you might as well hit the children over the head and be done with it.” In the book The Rural Municipality of Rhineland, 1884-1984, historian Gerhard Ens wrote that he often worked 24-hour days during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
On 19 June 1907, he married Emily Christine Bryans (1883-?), daughter of James and Mary Jane Bryans, of Morden. They had two children: Hugh James McGavin (1908-1976) and Dorothy M. McGavin (1911-1992). His wife died around 1916 and, on 31 December 1918, in Winnipeg, he married Ida Nauer (1899-1990), daughter of Conrad and Ida Lange Nauer. He was also an enthusiastic sportsman.
He died at Plum Coulee on 8 March 1958.
The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
We thank Marilyn Boyle for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 20 June 2018
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