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Memorable Manitobans: Herbert James Symington (1881-1965)


Born at Sarnia, Ontario on 22 November 1881, son of James Sanderson Symington and Helen Towers, he received a law degree from Osgoode Hall in Toronto before coming to Winnipeg where he was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in 1905. He practiced with the firm of Howell, Mathers, and Howell. In 1906, he was appointed solicitor to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1916. He was a member of the Manitoba Public Welfare Commission (1917-1920).

He moved to Montreal to become Vice-President and legal counsel for Royal Securities Corporation. The founding President of the International Air Transport Association, he was President of Trans-Canada Airlines (later known as Air Canada) from 1941 to 1947. He was a director of Canadian National Railways from 1936. During the Second World War, he served as power controller of the United States-Canada raw materials board and an advisor to the department of munitions and supply. In recognition of his wartime service, in 1944 he was made a Companion in the Order of St. Michael and St. George. He was appointed to the Privy Council of Canada in 1956.

On 14 September 1910, he married Evelyn Fay Christie (?-?) at Ottawa, Ontario. They had two daughters. A founding member of the Pine Ridge Golf Club, he served as Club President (1918-1919).

He died at Montreal, Quebec on 28 September 1965. He is commemorated by the Symington Railway Yards in Winnipeg.


1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

“Becomes G.T.P. solicitor,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 January 1906, page 7.

“Nine new K.C.’s,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 May 1916, page 5.

Ontario marriage registration, Ancestry.

“H. J. Symington dies at 84,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 September 1965, page 48.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 February 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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