Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Newton Fairbanks (1836-1919)

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William Newton Fairbanks
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Lawyer, real estate broker, municipal official.

Born in New England in 1836, a member of the same family as US Vice-President Charles W. Fairbanks, he and wife Mary had one son. In 1873, along with Thomas Carney, he brought a group of American settlers to southern Manitoba, founding the border town of Emerson, named for essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. He held several position in the local government, and was a booster of the community. While there, he proposed the construction of a railway line to Hudson Bay, which was not completed until several years after his death. He invested in Emerson real estate and lost heavily in the crash that followed the boom of the 1880s. He remained in Emerson until the early 1890s then moved to Winnipeg, where his son William B. Fairbanks was well-established as a real estate dealer. He died at Winnipeg on 17 April 1919 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. His impressive brick home still stands in Emerson.

See also:

Historical Tour - Emerson: Gateway to the West by Sharon Ewens
Manitoba History, Number 30, Autumn 1995

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fairbanks House (Roseau Street, Emerson, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)


1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“W. N. Fairbanks, The man who first proposed the Hudson Bay Railway,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 January 1910. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B4, page 115.]

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

History of Emerson, W. Carlson and Mrs. Masterson (editors), 1950. [Manitoba Legislative Library, F5649.E54]

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 February 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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