Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: James Charles McKeagney (1815-1879)

Lawyer, judge.

Born in County Tyrone, Ireland in 1815, his family came to Nova Scotia in 1822, and he was educated at McQueen’s Academy in Halifax. He was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1838. Initially a Reformer, he crossed the floor to support the Conservatives in 1857. Ten years later he was elected an anti-confederate MP from Cape Breton. Defeated in 1872, he was rewarded for running to split the Catholic vote with the appointment as puisne judge of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. He was regarded as weak and fussy, described by one contemporary as a “right-minded and conscientious non-entity -- or at best an old woman.” Moreover, despite the requirement to be fluent in French, his lack of knowledge of the language was an embarrassment to the government, although it continued to support him. He refused to rule on the question of his court’s jurisdiction in the Lepine trial and presided over the trial of André Nault. He served several times as administrator of Manitoba and became acting lieutenant-governor of the North-West Territories for a time in 1876. He died in New Brunswick on 14 September 1879 while on a leave of absence to regain his health.

See also:

James Charles McKeagney, Dictionary of Canadian Biography X, 475-76.


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

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 September 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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