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Memorable Manitobans: William James Donovan (1875-1949)

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William James Donovan
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Lawyer, judge.

Born in Leeds County, Ontario on 30 October 1875, son of Michael Donovan and Alice McDonald, he attended Brockville Collegiate Institute when graduated with an Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1900. He came to Manitoba soon afterwards, taught school at Portage la Prairie for a time, then articled in law in Manitoba. In 1904, he established a law partnership with T. J. Murray under the firm name of Donovan & Murray. In July 1911, the firm became Donovan & Doyle. He served as counsel for the Mason & Risch Piano Company and the Lewis Furniture Company. He was appointed a judge in the Court of King’s Bench in March 1928 and served until his death.

On 28 August 1907, he married Margaret Mary Allman (?-?) at Winnipeg. They had three daughters: Norine Donovan, Wilhelmina Donovan, and Evelyn Imelda Donovan. He was a candidate for Winnipeg in the 1922 provincial general election. He was a member of the Canadian Club, Carleton Club, and Roman Catholic Church. In 1940 he served as chairman of a Royal Commission appointed on the control, management, and working of the Winnipeg City Police Department.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 172 Harvard Avenue, on 26 May 1949.


1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

“Judge Donovan dies here,” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 May 1949. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 106]

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Sarah Ramsden.

Page revised: 9 June 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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

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