Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Donovan “Don” Swailes (1892-1984)

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Donovan Swailes
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Municipal official, MLA (1946-1949), MLA (1950-1953), MLA (1954-1957), MLA (1958-1959).

Born at Leeds, England on 12 August 1892, son of Robert Swailes and Louise Frampton, brother of Harry Wilson Swailes, he worked for a time in the textile industry and served in the Royal Navy during the First World War. He immigrated to Canada in 1920 and lived with his brother for a time.

Member of the Board of Directors of the Winnipeg Musicians Union, Executive Committee of the Family Bureau, Advisory Board of Manitoba Department of Education. Representative of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council, Trades and Labour Congress of Canada to 1943 Convention American Federation of Labour, Trades and Labour Council on Community Chest; Winnipeg and Prairie Regional Employment Committee of Unemployment Insurance Commision. He was Provincial Secretary-Treasurer of the Manitoba Co-operative Commonwealth Federation since 1943.

First elected to the Manitoba Legislature in the 1945 general election, he was re-elected in 1949, 1953, and 1958, but defeated in the 1959 and 1962 general elections. He served on the Winnipeg city council from 1960 to 1969.

On 29 September 1928, he married Mary Ethel Comlins (1904-1994) and they had one daughter.

He died at Victoria, British Columbia on 10 December 1984 and is commemorated by Swailes Avenue in Winnipeg.


1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1947.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 December 1984, page 74.

Obituary [Mary Ethel Swailes], Winnipeg Free Press, 2 April 1994, page 41.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

We thank Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 March 2021

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