Memorable Manitobans: William Steward Arnold Martin (1924-1996)

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William Steward Arnold Martin
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Lawyer, historian.

Born at Winnipeg on 1 July 1924, son of William Anderson Martin and Vivian Edna Martin (?-1978), he attended Queenston School, Kelvin High School, and the University of Manitoba, from which he received a law degree. He received a Masters degree and PhD from the University of Toronto, being the first recipient of a PhD in three disciplines - law, economics, and history. He practised law for forty years, specializing in the field of labour relations. In 1966, he was made a Queen’s Counsel.

He had a varied and rewarding career, the highlights of which were many. Some of his involvements were Chief Adjudicator for the Public Service Staff Relation Act, Special Advisor to the Province of Manitoba in connection with the Churchill-Nelson River Diversion Projects, Director of the Manitoba Development Corporation, and Counsel to the Bellan Commission of Inquiry into land prices in the City of Winnipeg. In addition to his legal career he was active in many business endeavours. Prior to his death he was Director (and one of the founders) of CML Northern Blower, President of Greensteel Industries, and Director of BYG Natural Resources. In the 1960s, he served on the Historical Committee of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation.

He was a member of the Manitoba Historical Society for over forty years, its President from 1968 to 1971, and Honourary President from 1983 to the time of his death. His most lasting contribution to the MHS and the community was his key role in saving the former home of Sir Hugh John Macdonald from demolition in 1969. Under his leadership the MHS restored the house to its original grandeur and opened it as Dalnavert Museum. His generosity extended to the donation of invaluable artifacts that assist with the interpretation of Canadian history. He received the Hall of Fame Award from the Red River Historical Society in 1975 for his major role in Dalnavert and other worthy ventures. In 1978 he was appointed Honourary Life Member of the Manitoba Record Society. Among his other honours were a Manitoba Centennial Medal (1970), an Honourary Fellowship of St. Johns College at the University of Manitoba (1972), Emeritus President of the Robert Burns Society of Winnipeg (1974), Honourary President of the St. Andrews Society of Winnipeg (1989 to 1991), Life Fellow of the Foundation of Legal Research (1992), and recipient of the Governor-Generals Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation (1992).

Stewards love for history was manifest in his writing. He wrote and published The Outline History of the Lake of the Woods and was instrumental in having published A Proud Heritage, the history of the first one hundred years of the law firm Aikins MacAulay Thorvaldson.

On 9 March 1955, he married Ethel Thelma Heath at St. Aidan's Anglican Church. He was a founding member of Grace Church Tuxedo and active as Rectors Warden from 1962 to 1974. Later he was active in St. Lukes Church and was a member of the Friends of St. Johns Cathedral from 1976 to the time of his death. He was a member of the Manitoba Club, St. Charles Country Club, Niakawa Country Club, Winnipeg Squash and Racquet Club, Lake George Fishing Club, Gator Creek Golf Club (Sarasota, Florida), and Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.

He died at Rochester, Minnesota on 10 January 1996.

See also:

Labour Conflict During Construction of the Kelsey and Grand Rapids Hydroelectric Generating Stations by Doug Smith
Manitoba History, Number 85, Fall 2017


“Engagement notices,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1955, page 16.

“14 Manitoba lawyers are appointed QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1966, page 5.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 1996, page 160.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 June 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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