Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Anna Bella Maclean Palk (1846-1917)


Born at Bury, Quebec on 10 June 1846, daughter of Donald and Margaret Maclean, she was educated at Sherbrooke and as a young woman travelled to Columbia, South Carolina after the American Civil War to help with the education of freed slaves. In 1873 she travelled to Manitoba with the intention of going to Norway House to help with the education of Aboriginal people. She stopped at Winnipeg and, having arrived too late in the season for travel to northern Manitoba, was persuaded by Rev. George Young to become a teacher at his Wesleyan Institute, the first Methodist educational institution in western Canada.

In April 1874, she married John Palk (1848-1885), an English carpenter and housing developer who was later a trustee for the Winnipeg School Board and member of the first board of directors of Wesley College. They had four children: Emmeline Rubena Stuart Palk (b 1876, wife of George Campbell), Helen Palk, John Edwin “Jack” Palk (b 1882), and Lawrence F. B. Palk. Ten or twelve years after her husband’s early death, she returned to teaching in the Winnipeg public school system. She was also involved in the Sunday Schools at Zion Methodist Church and Grace Methodist Church.

She died at Winnipeg on 2 March 1917 and was buried in Brookside Cemetery.


Death registration [John Palk], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Marriage registration [Emmeline Rubena Stuart Palk], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Attestation papers [John Edwin Palk], Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“Mrs. John Palk dies after long illness; was pioneer teacher,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 March 1917, page 8.

Burial transcription, Brookside Cemetery.

Women of Red River by W. J. Healy, Winnipeg, 1923.

This page was prepared by Alix Arnett and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 May 2015

Memorable Manitobans

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