Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Martha Dunn McCarthy (1932-2020)


Born Mary Martha Cecilia Dunn at Almonte, Ontario on 21 December 1932, one of thirteen children of Mayme Moynihan and Dr. John Dunn, she attended St. Michael's College in Toronto where she was the gold medalist of her graduating class, and where she met her future husband, Dr. Donald J. McCarthy. She obtained a Master's degree in Philosophy then, while raising five children, a doctorate in History from the University of Manitoba (1981). Her expertise was in the history of Indigenous peoples of Manitoba and Catholic missionery work in western Canada. She published several books, including To Evangelize the Nations: Roman Catholic Missions in Manitoba, 1818-1870 (1990), Oblate Missions to the Dene, 1847-1921: From the Great River to the Ends of the Earth (1995), and The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (2004). In 1962, she came with her family to Winnipeg and later worked as a researcher for the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, writing reports on Grand Rapids development and Manitoba steamboats, among others. Her volunteer activities included work with Rossbrook House and the Sisters of Sion. She died at Winnipeg on 8 December 2020.

Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

Medicine Chests of the Far North or Pills For All Ills
Manitoba History, Number 1, 1981

Thundering Waters Stilled: The Grand Rapids of the Saskatchewan
Manitoba History, Number 15, Spring 1988


The Missions of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to the Athapaskans, 1846-1870: Theory, Structure and Method by Martha McCarthy, Doctoral dissertation, University of Manitoba, 1981.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 December 2020.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 December 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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