Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Alexander MacDougall “A. M.” Brown (1820-1895)

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Alexander MacDougall Brown
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Born at St. Andrews, County of Argenteuil, Quebec on 2 June 1820, he was educated at Montreal High School. He served with the Loyal Hamilton Volunteer Regiment during the troubles of 1837-1838. His bravery under fire was noted when he recovered the body of a dead friend. A successful entrepreneur, he carried on mercantile operations in Quebec, Ontario, Wisconsin, and New York. In the early 1850s he became manager of the Gildersleeves line of lake steamers.

In 1870 Brown accompanied the Wolseley expedition to Winnipeg. Impressed with opportunities in the West he established a dry goods, groceries, and liquor store on Main Street in 1871. Around the same time he established a brick-making business at Point Douglas. In April 1872 he helped establish the Selkirk Agricultural Society. He was present at Winnipeg’s first St. Andrew’s Day celebration in 1871, and was made a Vice-President of the St. Andrew’s Society later in the same year.

In 1873 he was involved in inaugural meeting of the Winnipeg Board of Trade. Appointed Winnipeg City Clerk on 9 February 1874, his first duty was to “obtain a cupboard to contain the Corporation papers.” This action marked the beginning of the City of Winnipeg archives. In 1877 he was selected to read the address to Lord Dufferin on the steps of City Hall. He resigned the City Clerkship in 1882 and was succeeded by his son Charles James Brown. He speculated heavily during the real estate boom of 1881-1882 and it was reported that his “entire possessions were swept away.”

In the early days of Winnipeg, his residence “Browns” was the social centre of the town. Under the “whole hearted hospitality” of him and his amiable wife, guests experienced “impromptu dances, concerts and improvised feasts, that were as perfectly enjoyable as they were unconventional.” He was an active Mason (Ancient Landmark Lodge and Prince Rupert’s Royal Arch Chapter) and was twice married.

He died at Winnipeg on 14 December 1895 and was buried in St. John’s Cemetery.


Ten Years in Winnipeg by Alexander Begg & Walter Nursey, Winnipeg, 1879.

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Called to rest,” Winnipeg Morning Free Press, 16 December 1895.

This page was prepared by James Kostuchuk.

Page revised: 28 October 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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