Memorable Manitobans: Mildred Beatrice McMurray (1892-1959)
Lawyer, civil servant.
Born at Solsgirth on 20 December 1892, daughter of Thomas Henry McMurray and Maria Page, cousin of Elvin McMurray and Edward McMurray, she was educated at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate and the University of Manitoba. Her family came to Canada from Ireland, and settled in Perth County, Ontario. Her father came West in 1882 and homesteaded at Solsgirth; he was a pioneer worker in the Farmer’s Movement in Manitoba.
In early life, she taught school northern Saskatchewan, entered the University of Manitoba in 1913, graduated in Arts (1917) and Law (1921). She was articled in law to the firm of Anderson, Guy and Chappell, then was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1922. She practised for a time with the firm of MacDonald, Craig, Tarr & Armstrong, then practised alone. She was solicitor for the United Farmers of Manitoba. She was appointed as a supervisor in the Child Welfare Division of the Manitoba Civil Service Commission in 1929 and became attorney of the department in 1933. During her service with the Manitoba government, she became recognized as an authority in laws respecting children and women.
She was the first woman to appear in the Court of Appeal of Manitoba, where she won her case by the unanimous opinion of the judges of that court. In 1935, she took a two-year leave of absence to take postgraduate studies at the New York School of Social Work. In recognition of her service, she was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1956, the second woman in Manitoba history to have this distinction. She retired in 1958 but continued her duties as department attorney until 1959 when she planned to return to private law practice. Ill health prevented her from doing so. In addition to her government work, she also served as President of the Professional and Business Women’s Club of Winnipeg, and the Junior Service League to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
She died at Winnipeg on 23 November 1959 and was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery at Oakbank.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Pioneer woman lawyer heads list of nine Manitoba QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1955, page 15.
“Mildred McMurray dies after illness,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 November 1959. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B11, page 256]
We thank Lorena Chalkey for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 30 May 2015