Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Hugh McGavin (1874-1958)

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Hugh McGavin
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Physician, MLA (1927-1932).

Born at Paisley, Ontario on 14 November 1874, the second youngest of twelve children born to James McGavin and Elizabeth Wright, brother of Andrew Edward McGavin, his father died in 1877 of food poisoning after a church picnic so his uncle, Archibald Francis Wright, brought the McGavins west to join the rest of the family who were farming in the Rural Municipality of Springfield.

He was educated at Winnipeg public schools, Winnipeg Collegiate, and Manitoba College. He taught school for two years in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley to earn his university tuition and, after graduating from the Manitoba Medical College in 1902, he practised medicine at Plum Coulee. In the book The Rural Municipality of Rhineland, 1884-1984, historian Gerhard Ens wrote that he often worked 24-hour days during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

He served as President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (1929). A “Dr. Hugh McGavin Day” held on 30 June 1948 was attended by many of the 5,000 babies he delivered during a long medical career. In 1963, he was among ten doctors received into senior membership in the Canadian Medical Association.

His political career began when he served on the Plum Coulee municipal council (1909). A candidate for the Rhineland constituency in the 1910 provincial general election, he was defeated by Valentine Winkler. He was elected for the Morden-Rhineland constituency at the 1927 general election. During his tenure in the Legislature, he won a debate which settled the controversy over immunization for diphtheria. He was quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press as saying, “If you don’t use antitoxin you might as well hit the children over the head and be done with it.” He was defeated in the 1932 general election and did not seek political office again.

On 19 June 1907, he married Emily Christine Bryans (1883-1918, daughter of James and Mary Jane Bryans) of Morden. They had two children: Hugh James McGavin (1908-1976) and Dorothy M. McGavin (1911-1992). After his wife's death, he married Ida Nauer (1899-1990, daughter of Conrad and Ida Lange Nauer) of Winnipeg on 31 December 1918. He was an enthusiastic sportsman.

He died at Plum Coulee on 8 March 1958 and he was buried in the Plum Coulee Cemetery.


The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.

Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Plum Coulee: A Century - Plus, 1901-2001 by Town of Plum Coulee, 2001, page 329.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Marilyn Boyle, Eileen McIntyre, and Oliver Bernuetz (Legislative Library of Manitoba) for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 31 March 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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