Memorable Manitobans: James Kenneth MacIsaac (1903-1980)


Born at Somerville, Massachusetts on 18 October 1903, son of Frank H. MacIsaac (c1867-?) and Clementina MacIsaac (c.1872-?), he attended public school at Somerville before moving to Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) where he enrolled in Saint Dunstan’s College. He studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary at Edmonton (Alberta) and the Grand Seminary of Montreal. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Laval University, a Doctorate in Sacred Theology, a Baccalaureate in Canon Law from the University of Montreal, a Masters of Arts from the University of Toronto, and a diploma of German Language and Culture from the University of Munich.

In June 1929, he was ordained into the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, in Saint John the Baptist Church at Missouche, PEI by the then-Bishop of Charlottetown, Most Reverend L. J. O’Leary, D.D. and was appointed to the teaching staff of Saint Paul’s College in Winnipeg (1929-1932), after which he undertook studies at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies at Toronto, and in 1933, became Chaplain and Professor of Philosophy at Saint Mary’s Academy. During this time, he served as Editor of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg’s weekly paper, the North-West Review (1934-1939) and was Chaplain at Stony Mountain Penitentiary.

At the onset of the Second World War, he joined the Chaplaincy Corps of the Canadian Army and served with distinction in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and Senior Catholic Chaplain for the Central Mediterranean Theatre. After the war, he served as Chaplain in Military District #10 (Winnipeg), an active member in the Royal Canadian Legion, and Chaplain of the Fort Rouge Legion Branch #97.

In 1946, he was called up on by the Archbishop of Winnipeg, the Most Reverend Alfred Arthur Sinnott, to found a new parish in Fort Rouge area of Winnipeg, and selected property at the corner of Osborne Street and Arnold Avenue, adjacent to Saint Mary’s Cemetery. Our Lady of Victory Memorial Parish was founded, named as a tribute to the soldiers of two world wars. A church and school were constructed in 1949, and he attracted the Ursuline Sisters to the city and the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. In 1949, the Our Lady of Victory School was renamed in his honour. It reverted to its original name in 1999.

In 1962, he was appointed Rector of Saint Mary’s Cathedral and a member of the Diocesan Consultors’ Board. On 23 November 1965, Pope Paul VI named him Domestic Prelate and he was thus invested on 13 April 1966, bestowing upon him the the title of Monsignor. He went on to be the Chairman of the Archdioces of Winnipeg Liturgical Commission (1965). He retired as Rector in 1968 and became Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Parish in Winnipeg until retirement from active ministry in 1974.

He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 20 January 1980 and was buried in the priests section of the St. Mary’s Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: James K. MacIsaac School / Our Lady of Victory School (249 Arnold Street, Winnipeg)


1910 US census, FamilySearch.

“School renamed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 May 1972, page 24.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 23 January 1980, page 51.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 26 June 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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