MHS Smarty Party: 20 October 2022

Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Louis William Coutlee (1851-1917)

Lawyer, soldier, land registrar.

Born at Hull, Quebec on 17 December 1851, eldest son of Louis Maurile Coutlee and Jane Marie Clegg, he was educated at Aylmer High School, Masson College, and McGill University, graduating from the latter in 1873 and being admitted to the Bars of Lower Canada (1873) and Upper Canada (1875). He was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in June 1882 and practiced at Winnipeg for a short time as a member of the firm Richards & Coutlee.

He served in the Canadian militia from 1866, and was on active service three times. He won the medal with two clasps for the Fenian raids of 1866 to 1870. He was a Captain of the Winnipeg Field Battery on service during the North-West campaign of 1885, and was in action at Fish Creek and at Batoche. He was engaged in the operation against Big Bear and his band after the capture of Riel. He received a medal with clasp and a long-service decoration.

Coutlee organized the administration of justice in the added territory of Manitoba when its boundaries were extended in 1881 eastward to the Lake of the Woods. It was under his guidance that the departmental administration of the Attorney-General of Manitoba was reorganized. He was Deputy Attorney-General and law clerk of the Manitoba Assembly from 1882 to 1887. During the time he was municipal commissioner from 1886 to 1887 he organized the present municipal system of the Province, under the Municipal Act of 1886. He was instrumental in introducing the Torrens system of Land Titles Registration in Manitoba, and in 1887 he was appointed Registrar-General, holding that office until it was abolished by the Greenway government in 1890.

He was appointed assistant reporter of the Supreme Court of Canada in December 1895, receiving his Kings Council in 1873. He was a contributor to several Canadian journals. He was a vice-president of the Canadian Artillery Association.

On 7 April 1880, he was married to Charlotte Margaret Wilson of Kingston, Ontario. They had four children: William F. Coutlee, Helen Rowan Coutlee, Charlotte Coutlee, and Gertrude Coutlee.

Coutlee died at his home in Ottawa of the effects of diabetes, on 3 May 1917.

See also:

Louis William Coutlee, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIV,243-44.


A Political Manual of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by J. P. Robertson, Winnipeg: Call Printing Company, 1887.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Manitoba Free Press, 8 May 1917. [Manitoba Legislative Library, biographical scrapbook B6, page 203]

Ontario death registration for L. W. Coutlee, Ancestry web site.

1891 Canada census, Ancestry web site.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 30 May 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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