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Memorable Manitobans: John Donald “Jack” McNairnay (1925-2011)

Civil servant.

Born at Swan River on 13 February 1925, the youngest of six children, his family moved to Winnipeg in 1935 to be closer to his father, then working at the Pine Falls Paper Company. He graduated from Gordon Bell High School in 1943 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After his military discharge, he attended United College and the Manitoba Law School, earning a law degree from the latter in 1950. He articled with the Legal Department of the City of Winnipeg and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1951. He remained with the City until 1956 when he became Assistant Manager of The Travellers Insurance Company.

In 1961 he joined the Legal Department of the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg and in 1963 was appointed Deputy Council. In 1968 he moved to the provincial government as Assistant Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs. He was soon appointed Deputy Minister and was instrumental in creating the legislation that unified the City of Winnipeg. Later, he headed the province’s departments of Public Works and Natural Resources. He was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1975. Between 1981 and 1993 he chaired the Public Utilities Board, the Surface Rights Board, and the Municipal Board. He played leadership roles at St. Andrews United Church, the Patriotic Salvage Corp, Mount Carmel Clinic and the River Heights Community Centre.

In 1998 he retired to Victoria, British Columbia where he died on 14 April 2011.


“Manitoba names 9 new QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1975, page 43.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 2011.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 June 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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