Memorable Manitobans: Edward James McMurray (1878-1969)
Lawyer, MP (1922-1925).
Born at Thorndale, Ontario on 4 June 1878, son of James McMurray and Sarah Leadman, cousin of Elvin McMurray and Mildred McMurray, he came West on a harvest excursion. After attending the Regina Normal School, he taught school in the North West Territories (now Saskatchewan). In 1900, he settled in Winnipeg where he entered Manitoba College and completed a BA degree. In 1903 he entered the law offices of Pitblado and Campbell as an articled student. He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1906.
Becoming one of Winnipeg’s preeminent criminal lawyers, he was defence counsel for the General Strike leaders of 1919. He was more successful with clients in murder trials, claiming that in 26 cases they had escaped the gallows. He was elected Liberal MP for Winnipeg North in the 1921 federal general election, re-elected in an October 1923 by-election, and was named Solicitor General in the MacKenzie King cabinet in 1925 but was defeated in the election later that year. He returned to his law practice and was made a King’s Counsel in 1934.
He was married twice, first on 30 June 1906 to Margaret Moir Wilton (c1875-1907) and later to Cecilia Makarski (?-?).
He died at his Winnipeg home, 604 South Drive, on 20 April 1969 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
Marriage registration [Edward James McMurray, Margaret Maria Wilton], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Death registration [Margaret M. McMurray], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary [Margaret Moir McMurray], Winnipeg Tribune, 20 April 1907, page 15.
Prairie Portraits by Roy St. George Stubbs, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1954.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
“Ex-cabinet minister dies at 91,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 April 1969, page 6.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 23 April 1969, page 38.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Lorena Chalkey for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Tom Mitchell and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 28 July 2022