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Memorable Manitobans: James Morrow Walsh (1843-1905)

Soldier, police officer.

Born at Prescott, Canada West in 1843 and obtained his education there. In 1866 he was commissioned a Lieutenant in No. 2 Company Rifles, Prescott. He was appointed an ensign in the first Ontario Battalion of the Wolseley Expedition but resigned in 1870. In the same year he married a daughter of John Mowat of Prescott.

In 1873 he was appointed inspector of North West Mounted Policethen being organized by Lieutenant-Colonel French. He was soon promoted to inspector (1874) and superintendent (1875). He was sent to the Cypress Hills to command B division in 1875, where he became involved with Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians. American journalists referred to him as “Sitting Bull’s boss.” The Canadian government regarded him as too sympathetic to the Sioux and he was removed from active service in 1881 and pushed into retirement in 1883. He established the Dominion Coal, Coke and Transportation Company, in which capacity he did much towards opening up the coal mines in the Souris country. Walsh got his revenge on the NWMP in 1897, when he was appointed Commissioner of the Yukon District, and also became superintendent of the NWMP and commissioner of police for the North-West Territories. A year later he was criticised for his failure to put the administration of mining claims on a judicious footing, and retired to Brockville, Ontario, where he died on 25 July 1905.

His papers are at the Archives of Manitoba.

More information:

“James Walsh: Frontiersman,” Canada: An Historical Magazine, 2, no.1 (1974-75), 28-42.

A fictional account is in White Sioux: Major Walsh of the Mounted Police by Iris Allan (1969).

Walsh by Sharon Pollock (1973).

James Morrow Walsh, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIII, 1071-72.

Sources:

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

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Page revised: 1 September 2008

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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