Memorable Manitobans: Stuart Sinclair Garson (1898-1977)
Lawyer, MLA (1927-1932), MLA (1933-1936), MLA (1937-1940), MLA (1941-1945), Premier of Manitoba (1943-1948), MLA (1948-1949), MP (1945-1949), MP (1949-1953), MP (1953-1957).
Born at St. Catharines, Ontario on 1 December 1898, son of William Corston Watt Garson and Margaret Annable (1868-1933), older brother of William Robert Garson, he came to Manitoba with his parents in 1901. He attended Fort Rouge School, Kelvin High School, and the University of Manitoba (LLB 1918). He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1919. He practised law at Ashern from 1919 to 1928, and served as municipal administrator for the Rural Municipality of Woodlea from 1926 to 1930. In 1928, he became a partner in the Winnipeg firm of Johnston, Garson and Forrester. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1935.
In 1927 he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for Fairford, beating A. W. Kirvan, and was re-elected or acclaimed in 1932, 1936, 1941, and 1945. He served as Provincial Treasurer (September 1936 to November 1948) and Minister of Telephones and Minister of the Power Commission (1941). Concerned with the need for new financial arrangements for the province with the federal government, he advocated a federal Royal Commission to resolve the constitutional and financial impasse. In 1941 he added the telephone ministry and the Manitoba Power Commission to his portfolios.
When John Bracken entered federal politics in 1943, Garson succeeded him as Premier. Garson remained as Provincial Treasurer and also became Minister for Dominion-Provincial Relations (January 1943 to November 1948). He ran a budget surplus, while concentrating on rural highway construction and rural electrification. He jumped to federal politics in December 1948 when he was elected in a by-election for the federal constituency of Marquette, becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney General (November 1948 to June 1957). Re-elected at the 1949 and 1953 general elections, he was defeated in the 1957 election, and stepped down from politics to practise law until retirement in 1965.
In recognition of his meritorious community service, the University of Manitoba awarded him an honorary doctorate (1947), he was given a Manitoba Golden Boy Award (1964), and he was inducted into the Order of Canada (1971). In 1933, he married Emily Joyce Topper (1903-1989, daughter of Frank E. Topper) and they had two daughters, Marjorie Garson (wife of Paul Richards) and Eleanor Garson (wife of Donald Swainson).
He died on 5 May 1977 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. A collection of his papers are held at the Archives of Manitoba.
“Mrs. W. Garson, of Ashern, dies at age of 56,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 November 1933, page 2.
“Eight Manitoba lawyers are appointed as King’s Counsel in Honors List,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1935, page 1.
The Canadian Directory of Parliament, 1867-1967, edited by J. K. Johnson, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa [Library and Archives Canada], 1968.
Obituary [Emily Joyce Garson], Winnipeg Free Press, 22 July 1989, page 54.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 20 February 2022