Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Nellie McNichol “Nic” Sanders (1906-1990)

Lawyer, judge.

Born at Westover, Ontario on 30 July 1906, daughter of Robert T. McNichol and Jean Fraser Robertson, she attended public school at Fort Macleod, Alberta and high school at Moulton College in Toronto. She then moved with her family to Winnipeg, where she graduated from the University of Manitoba in Arts in 1928 and in Law in 1932. She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1932 and admitted as a solicitor in 1939. She became a social worker with the Manitoba Department of Welfare. She was secretary of the Manitoba Welfare Supervision Board from 1936 to 1942 and, was legal counsel for the Children’s Aid Society from 1953 to 1957.

In August 1957 she was the first woman in Manitoba to be named to the bench, serving in the Winnipeg Juvenile and Family Court, Magistrate, and Provincial Judge before her retirement in 1977. She often awarded custody rights to fathers in family cases. Sanders was made Queen’s Counsel in 1971. She served as honorary president of the Manitoba Provincial Judges’ Association (1984- 1989) and chair of the Manitoba Family Planning Policy Advisory Committee (1977-1978). She was a member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Manitoba Prison Chaplains’ Advisory Board, the University of Manitoba Alumni Association Board, the Social Welfare Planning Council, the YWCA Board, and the Winnipeg School Board Committee on Family Life Education.

Mother of David M. Sanders.

She died in Winnipeg on 4 August 1990.


Ontario birth registration, Ancestry.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 August 1990.

“Province’s first woman judge dies” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 August 1990.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 April 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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