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Memorable Manitobans: Donald Alexander Boulden (1893-1967)

Fireman, municipal official.

Born at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England on 21 March 1893, he immigrated to Canada in 1909 where he settled at Winnipeg and worked in construction. In 1915, he joined the Winnipeg Fire Department and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving in the latter across France and Belgium. Returning from the First World War, he resumed employment with the Fire Department, where he worked as a driver, hose branchman at Fire Hall No. 5, a pumper company at Fire Hall No. 4, and eventually fulfilled his childhood dream of being a Fire Chief, serving as the Fire Chief of Winnipeg (1928-1947), after which he retired.

A skilled leader and strict disciplinarian, within his first year as Chief, fire damage and losses in Winnipeg went from $1,500,000 to $220,000. In 1940, he lead the organizing and training efforts of Canadian Firefighters Expeditionary Force prior to deployment to Great Britain, but was deemed medically unfit in advance of the group’s departure, and returned to Winnipeg, resuming his command. He was active in post-war Civil Defence and community committees, and was both Chairman of the Grandin School District (1953-1955) and Councillor (1954-1957) of Fort Garry.

He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Canukeena Club, and host of the International Association of Fire Chiefs meeting at Winnipeg in 1930. On his vacations, he visited Fire Departments in England and France. On 23 September 1923, he married Isabella Brown Grant (c1894-1970) at Winnipeg and had three children: Alice Boulden, Grant Alexander Boulden (?-1998), and Elizabeth Lucille Boulden (1924-1924). His pastimes included curling, hunting, and gardening.

He died at Winnipeg on 25 December 1967 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Sources:

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“Firemen enlist,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 August 1915, page 4.

“Committee on safety endorses straw vote,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 April 1928, page 4.

“Grandin trustees elect Boulden,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 January 1953, page 3.

“Manitoba tie-up worst in 6 years,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 February 1955, page 1.

“What a difference an “H” makes here,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1957, page 3.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1967, page 30.

“Colorful ex-Fire Chief dies on Christmas Day,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 December 1967, page 2.

Obituary [Isabella Brown Boulden], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 April 1970, page 32.

“Fire Department history is one of humor and sorrow,” by Barry Mullin, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 1974, page 20C.

Obituary [Alice Little], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 July 2012, page B17.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 2 September 2014

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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