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Memorable Manitobans: William Osborne Smith (1831-1887)

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William Osborne Smith
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Born in Ireland in 1831. He received a military education and served in the Crimean War, later coming to Canada with his regiment. In Montreal he organized the Victoria Rifles in 1861, and became Lieutenant-Colonel. After some years of military service there he came to Manitoba in 1872 and became Deputy Adjutant General for Manitoba and North-West Territories. In 1874 he was founding President of the Manitoba Club and, in 1879, was a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society.

Military District No. 10 was created in that year, and the following year Fort Osborne Barracks (named after him) located where the Legislative Building now stands, was designated as its centre. He resigned from his post in 1881 and moved to Winnipeg, where he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Commons in 1882 and for a seat in the provincial legislature in 1886. During the North West Rebellion in 1885 he raised the Winnipeg Light Infantry, later known as the 91st Battalion.

Smith lived in Winnipeg until shortly before his death. He died in May 1887, on a visit to Wales. He is commemorated by Osborne Street in Winnipeg.

See also:

William Osborne Smith, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XI, 838-39.


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: 6 October 2018

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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