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Memorable Manitobans: James “Jim” Cowan (1914-1997)

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James Cowan
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Lawyer, MLA (1958-1959), MLA (1959-1962), MLA (1963-1966), MLA (1966-1969).

Born at Portage la Prairie on 5 September 1914, eldest son of Thomas Hind Cowan and Robena Isabel Taylor, grandson of James Cowan, he was educated at Portage la Prairie schools, United College (Winnipeg) and the Manitoba Law School (LLB). He was called to the Manitoba Bar in May 1939. He practiced law at Winnipeg until 1984, and was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1961. He also operated a general insurance agency during these years. During the Second World War, he served overseas in the Canadian Army.

He was married twice, first in 1945 to Dorothy Jones from whom he was later divorced. On 4 August 1956 he married Rose Amy Cooper, daughter of Thomas B. Cooper of Winnipeg. He had a daughter, Margaret Cowan. He served as President of the Canadian Legion Memorial Housing Foundation (Manitoba) and President of the Cosmopolitan Club Homes, and Alderman on the Winnipeg city council (1955-1958). He was a member of No. 1 Branch, Canadian Legion, Winnipeg Cosmopolitan Club (Manitoba Branch), and the Community Planning Association. He stood as a candidate for the Portage-Neepawa constituency in the 1953 federal election but was defeated. Defeated in the 1941 provincial general election, he was first elected to the Manitoba Legislature in the 1958 general election, being re-elected in 1959, 1962, and 1966. He was defeated by Bud Boyce in the 1969 general election.

In recognition of his community service, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977).

He died at Winnipeg on 4 January 1997 and was buried in Hillside Cemetery in Portage la Prairie.


The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1960.

“10 Manitoba lawyers are elevated to QCs,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 December 1960, page 9.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 January 1997, page C6.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 October 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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