Memorable Manitobans: Alfred Boyd (c1836-1908)
Merchant, MLA (1871-1874), Chief Minister of Manitoba (1870-1871).
Born in England, Boyd was in Red River by 1858. He resided at “Redwood” and owned a store in St. John’s Parish that was managed by Maurice Lowman, and he engaged in fur trade with the mercantile firm of Inkster and Boyd. Boyd was elected as an English delegate to the 1870 Convention of Forty from St. Andrew’s. Although he was not a leading member, Louis Riel later described him as “one of the most decided against us.” Boyd certainly opposed Riel’s election as president and favoured territorial over provincial status. His critics later charged that he had received inflated reimbursement for “rebellion losses” (he claimed $55,500 in general damages and was awarded $2,505.18 for guns seized by the insurgents), but he always insisted that real goods had been involved. In any event, he was appointed provincial secretary in September 1870 and was elected to the Legislative Assembly from St. Andrew’s North in December 1870. He resigned the secretaryship to become minister of public works and agriculture.
He is sometimes regarded as Manitoba’s first premier. Boyd was heavily criticized by incoming settlers for his failure to make public improvements, and he resigned on 9 December 1871 to be replaced by John Norquay. In January 1873, he became a founding member of the Council of the North-West Territories. He was returned to the Executive Council of Manitoba for a short period in 1873. He was a clever cartoonist, and according to J. H. O’Donnell he “drew many laughable sketches of members of the House that were grotesquely funny.”
He was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, in 1873.
Boyd left Manitoba about 1889, dying a wealthy man in England, on 16 August 1908. He is commemorated by Boyd Avenue in Winnipeg.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 17 June 2021