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Memorable Manitobans: James Spence (1815-1900)

Click to enlargePioneer.

Born in Scotland in 1815, son of Thomas Spence and Marion Irvine, he came to Canada as a cooper in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, which position he held for five years. He came to the Red River Colony in 1841. He bought land near the site of Fort Garry which subsequently was incorporated into the limits of the City of Winnipeg. His neighbor was James A. Lang, for whom Langside Street in Winnipeg was named. The property included the section of the city north from Armstrong’s Point and west of Colony Street.

In 1844 he married Mary McKay, daughter of Robert McKay and Christina Bannerman. They had eleven children: Thomas, Mary, Christina, Jemima, Robert, James, Robina, Janet, Margaret, John, and Annie. Spence died at his residence on Spence Street, Winnipeg, 22 March 1900.

He is commemorated by Spence Street in Winnipeg.


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Page revised: 19 November 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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