Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Johnston Watson (1862-1957)

Educator, postmaster, bookseller.

Born at Lisburn, Ireland on 16 March 1862, son of Thomas and Jane Watson, brother of Edmund Watson, he was educated at the Belfast School of Technology and the Royal College of Science at Dublin. He first came to Canada in 1884 but returned to Ireland after a year. He came to Manitoba in 1887 and settled at Carman where he became the community’s first formally trained teacher. He taught school and was Principal of the Carman School for ten years.

He was appointed the Postmaster at Carman in 1897, serving until 1911 when he was dismissed for “political partisanship.” He established Watson’s Bookstore and ran it into his 90s, closing the store in 1952. On 4 April 1890, he married Elsie Haverson (?-1948) at Carman and they had five children: Eric Edmund Watson (1891-?), Evans George Watson (1892-?), Annie Watson (1894-?, wife of Douglas C. Atkins), Karl Koller Watson (1898-?), and Blake Haverson Watson (1903-?). He was a member in the COF and Carman United Church, and served on the Carman town council.

He died at his Carman home on 10 December 1957 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Programme of studies,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 August 1892, page 8.

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

“Mrs. Johnston Watson,” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 March 1948, page 4.

“Progress ousts old bookstore, Carman landmark,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 June 1952, page 6.

“Carman man, 93, marks birthday in Hollywood,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 March 1955, page 13.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 December 1957, page 22.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 October 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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