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Memorable Manitobans: John Smith (1817-1889)

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John Smith
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Farmer, MLA (1879-1883).

Born at Brigg, Lincolnshire, England on 28 January 1817, he came to Canada in 1837 and settled at Martintown, Ontario. In 1847, he married Margaret Grant (?-1880). They subsequently moved to Elora, Ontario where their family of five children were born: Isabella Dorothea Smith (wife of W. D. Byers), Mary Smith (wife of M. E. White), Annie Smith, Alexander T. Smith, and W. P. Smith. While at Elora he served for about twenty years as a member of the Pilkington Rural Council, president and manager of the Nicol Mutual Fire Insurance Companies, and Master of AF & AM Harmony Lodge.

He moved to Manitoba in 1872 and acquired land near the village of Oakland. His family joined him the following year, farming for a short time at Lanes’ Post (Hudson’s Bay Company), now Pigeon Lake, until taking up residence on his Oakland farm in 1975. The following year he shipped the first wheat from the Portage Plains to Ontario. He was a member of the local Masonic fraternity and served one term as its Master. In 1879 he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for the Burnside constituency and served a single term, being defeated in the 1883 general election by Isaiah Mawhinney. In 1883, three years after the death of his wife, he remaried to Mrs. McKinnon. He was a founder of the Portage Mutual Insurance Company.

He died of typhoid fever at Winnipeg on 18 October 1889 and was buried in Hillside Cemetery at Portage la Prairie.


Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Portage la Prairie,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 October 1889, page 2.

Tread of the Pioneers, written and edited by Joseph H. Metcalfe and published by the Portage la Prairie and District Old Timers’ Association, 1932.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 October 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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