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Memorable Manitobans: Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Martin (1852-1923)

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Joseph Martin
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Lawyer, MLA (1883-1886), MLA (1886-1888), MLA (1888-1892), MP (1891-1896).

Born at Milton, Ontario on 24 September 1852, he was educated at the Toronto Normal School and the University of Toronto. He was Principal of the public school at Edinburgh (near Ottawa) for three years, afterwards studying law and being admitted to the Ontario Bar. He moved to Portage la Prairie and was called to the Manitoba Bar in August 1882, practicing law at Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg. A Liberal, he was elected MLA from Portage at the general elections of 1883, 1886, and 1888, and at June 1883, February 1888, and March 1891 by-elections, serving as Attorney General in the Greenway administration (1889-1891) where he introduced the notorious separate schools legislation.

An unsuccessful candidate in the 1891 federal general election, he became MP for Winnipeg at a by-election in November 1893 then, after being defeated in the 1896 general election, he moved to Vancouver where he soon entered the provincial legislature and briefly became Premier in 1900. He later became a British MP from East St. Pancras (1910-1918). He thus sat in four different legislative bodies during his political career.

On 2 September 1881, he married Eliza Richmond (?-?, widow of George W. Eaton) at Ottawa.

He died at Vancouver, British Columbia on 2 March 1923.

See also:

Ethnic Politics on the Urban Frontier: “Fighting Joe” Martin and the Jews of Winnipeg, 1893-96 by Henry Trachtenberg
Manitoba History, Number 35, Spring/Summer 1998

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Martin School No. 870 (Kelvin Avenue, Winnipeg)


A Political Manual of the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by J. P. Robertson, Winnipeg: Call Printing Company, 1887.

John Alexander Gemmill (editor), The Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1887.

“Joseph Martin rests in death after life of constant battle,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 March 1923, page 3.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 February 2022

Memorable Manitobans

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