Memorable Manitobans: John Hedley Bell (1840-1897)
Merchant, MLA (1883-1886).
Born in London Township, Upper Canada (now Ontario) on 6 September 1840, he was educated in the public and high schools of that town. He was trained for a commercial career, and for many years was a teacher in the London Commercial College. He left there in May 1871 for Manitoba, and upon arrival settled on a farm in Kildonan on the east bank of the Red River.
He was employed as head bookkeeper for James Henry Ashdown for a number of years. While living in Kildonan he was active in municipal affairs and was a member of the first Council which was organized under the provincial statute. In 1883, during the brief period of existence of the county councils, he was warden of the group of rural municipalities in the County of Kildonan.
In 1883, he was elected as a member of the legislature for the constituency of Springfield and represented it until the next general election. After this he was employed during the session of the legislature as assistant to the Clerk of the House, and in the summer months was engaged in the office of the Winnipeg Exhibition Association. He was a sessional writer during the sitting of the legislature.
In 1862, he married Margaret Scott (1838-1928) of London Township. They had five children who reached adulthood: Annabella Bell, James Bell, John Bell, Allan Bell, and Violet Bell, one of whom was born a month after the family’s arrival in Manitoba. He was a prominent member of the Masons, serving as a Grand Secretary and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.
He died on 16 March 1897 and was buried in the Kildonan Cemetery.
1881 and 1891 Canada censuses, Library and Archives Canada.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Death of John H. Bell,” Manitoba Free Press, 17 March 1897, page 1.
“Death of a pioneer,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 March 1897, page 5.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
We thank Keith Maitland, Stan Barclay, Oliver Bernuetz (Legislative Library of Manitoba), and Sandy Jasper for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 16 March 2022