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Manitoba History No. 89

No. 89

War Memorials in Manitoba
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This Old Elevator
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Abandoned Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans

Historic Sites of Manitoba
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Memorable Manitobans: John Henry McTavish (1837-1888)

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John Henry McTavish
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Fur trader, MLA (1871-1874).

Born at Grafton, Ontario on 11 June 1837, and educated at the Jesuits’ College and High School, Montreal, he married Maria Rowand (1849-1889), daughter of John Rowand, a Chief Factor in the Hudson’s Bay Company. He came to Fort Garry in 1856 in the service of the Company and was in charge there during 1870. An accountant at Fort Garry in 1869-1870, he was unrelated to Governor McTavish. He was a Roman Catholic and spoke French fluently. He was rumoured to be a sympathizer of the Métis. He was in charge of Upper Fort Garry after the departure of Governor McTavish in 1870.

In December 1870, he was aclaimed as a Conservative representing Ste. Anne to the first legislature of Manitoba. In 1874 he was chosen a member of the North-West Territorial executive council but left the political field to become land commissioner of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was a close friend and associate of Lord Strathcona. He was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, in 1873.

He died at Winnipeg on 5 March 1888 and was buried in the cemetery of St. Boniface Cathedral.


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

“A sudden death,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 March 1888, page 4.

“Funeral of Mr. J. H. McTavish,” Manitoba Free Press, 12 March 1888, page 4.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

We thank Beth Balsillie for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 October 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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