Memorable Manitobans: Ewan Alexander MacPherson [McPherson] (1879-1954)
Born in Worth County, Missouri on 27 January 1879, son of Peter MacPherson and Ellen Wallace, brother of Peter McPherson, the family came to Manitoba in 1879 and settled at Portage la Prairie. He was educated locally, a schoolmate of T. A. Crerar. He articled in law to S. R. Wright and Edward Anderson, and called to Manitoba Bar in 1903. He practiced for a time with Arthur Meighen (1904-1906) then took over the practice of Judge MacDonald in 1906. He formed partnerships with A. C. Williams (killed in France), E. P. Garland, and E. G. Porter. He was appointed a King’s Counsel in 1916 and served as a Bencher for the Law Society of Manitoba. He was a co-founder of the short-lived Portage la Prairie Brick and Tile Company.
He served as an alderman of the City of Portage la Prairie in 1906. He first ran for public office in 1910. Over the next 15 years he contested seven elections, including the 1920 provincial general election, winning four. He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1914 and 1915. Defeated in 1920, he defeated Arthur Meighen in 1926 to become Liberal MP for Portage la Prairie but was defeated in 1930. Defeated in the 1932 provincial election as a representative for Portage la Prairie, he ran again in a deferred election in Rupertsland and was elected. He became Provincial Treasurer in the Bracken government, and was famous for not saying anything in the Legislature. He was also Municipal Commissioner (1935-1936). He was named Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench in 1937, and was Chief Justice of Manitoba from 1944 to 1954. He was also Chairman of The Winnipeg Foundation. In 1948, the University of Manitoba awarded him an honorary doctorate.
On 26 October 1904, he married Winnifred Mabel Finn (1878-1952), with whom he had five children: Donovan Ewen MacPherson (1905-?), Wallace Alexander MacPherson (1908-?), Glen Willoughby MacPherson (1910-?), and Margaret Winnifred Douglas MacPherson (1911-?).
He died at Kenora, Ontario on 18 November 1954 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.
Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Store clerk to jurist Mcpherson’s story,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 November 1954, pages 1 and 5.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 18 November 2019
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