Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: John Joseph Kelly (1898-1952)

Lawyer, judge.

Born at Thornhill on 20 October 1898, son of Asenath Hoskin and Daniel Kelly, he joined the Winnipeg law firm of David Campbell following his graduation in 1922. He became senior partner in the law firm of Kelly and Campbell working closely with Arnold Munroe Campbell. He was made a King’s Counsel (1939). In 1949, he filled the vacancy left by the death of William James Donovan on the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench.

A veteran of both wars, he enlisted in November 1915 serving overseas with the 90th battalion. After being wounded twice, he returned to Canada in December 1918. He was appointed to the Judge Advocate General’s Branch during the Second World War and served at C.M.H.Q. in London and at H.Q. 1st Canadian Army. He retired to the reserve with the title of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Made a King’s Counsel in 1938, Kelly was a bencher and honorary secretary of the Law Society of Manitoba as well as Vice-Chairman of the Manitoba Power Commission and secretary of the South Winnipeg Liberal Association. He additionally served as counsel for the International Railway Unions of Canada as an officer in the Canadian Legion. He was President of the Crescentwood River Heights Branch of the Canadian Legion and Vice-President of the Canadian Legion for Manitoba and North-Western Ontario. President of both the Blackstone Club and the Laurier Club, he also belonged to the Canukeena Club, St. Andrews United Church, and the Masons (Ionic Lodge).

He and his wife Violet Gertrude Earle, whom he married on 4 October 1924, shared two children: Maureen and Joan.

On 2 April 1952, he died at his home, 152 Montrose Street, in Winnipeg. He was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“Seven get K.C. honor,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 January 1939, page 1.

“J. J. Kelly, K.C. named to King’s Bench post,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 August 1949. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 119]

“Mr. Justice Kelly,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 April 1952, page 21.

Death notice, Winnipeg Free Press, 3 April 1952, page 27.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 28 January 2017

Memorable Manitobans

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