Memorable Manitobans: William “Billy” Code (1848-1940)
Born in Dublin, Ireland on 15 November 1848, he emigrated to the United States in 1872 and worked as a miner at Marquette, Michigan for a year, then was employed on the Sault Ste. Marie canal. In 1874 he came to Winnipeg over the Dawson Trail and got a job printing and delivering some of the first copies of the Manitoba Free Press, in July 1874. A few months later, he joined a new volunteer fire department formed in Winnipeg.
He stayed with the Free Press until 1882 when he became a paid member of the Winnipeg Fire Department, gradually rising through the ranks, serving as Captain, Assistant Chief, and finally Chief. He retired in 1914, after being demoted in 1895 and replaced as Chief by E. H. Rodgers.
He was married to Catharine Moodie. They had ten children: George Code (b 1877), Edward Brandon Code (b 1879), Thomas J. Code (b 1881), William Frederick Code (b 1884), John Briton Code (b 1885), Mary Code (b 1887), Norman Code (b 1889), Charlotte Catharine Code (b 1890), Josephine Code (b 1892), and Robert Benjamin Code (b 1897).
At the time of his death on 11 August 1940, he was thought to be the oldest firefighter in Canada, having fought more fires than anyone in the country. He was buried in Winnipeg’s Brookside Cemetery. He is commemorated by Code Street in Winnipeg.
Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“William Code, fire fighting veteran, dies,” undated newspaper clipping, Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9, page 95.
“Death climaxes careers of many notable people in course of 1940”, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1941, page 1.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 August 2014
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