Memorable Manitobans: John Thomas Haig (1877-1962)
Born at Colborne, Ontario on 15 December 1877, son of Joseph Haig and Elizabeth Broatch (1847-1930), he grew up on a farm near Brandon and was educated at Alexander School and the University of Manitoba (BA). He was a member of the legal firm of Campbell, Pitblado, Haig, Montague & Drummond Hay. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1927. He was also Vice-President of the Equitable Trust Company.
Active in provincial politics, he served as the Returning Officer for Winnipeg West in the 1907 general election. First elected for Assiniboia at the July 1914 general election, and defeated in 1915, he was re-elected in 1920, 1922, 1927, and 1932. A Conservative, he became leader of his party after the election of 1922. He served in the Legislature until his appointment to the Canadian Senate in 1935. He was Senate Opposition leader from 1945 to 1957 and Senate government leader and member of the Diefenbaker cabinet from September 1957 to May 1958. He retired from the Senate in February 1962 and his son, James Campbell Haig, was appointed to his Senate seat.
On 16 March 1907, he married Josephine Michael Dickie (1879-1953, daughter of James H. Dickie) of Winnipeg. They had six children: James Campbell Haig, Elizabeth Clinkskill “Betty” Haig (1911-1999, wife of John Allyn Taylor), Alison Broatch Haig (1917-1988, wife of Gerald Bowen Williams), Marion T. Haig (1918-2005), and John Douglas Haig (1921-?), and Edith Haig (?-?, wife of R. S. Jones). The family lived at 73 Chestnut Street and, at the time of his death, at 262 Harvard Avenue. He served for eight years as a member of the Winnipeg School Board, and later Chairman of that Board. He was President of the Assiniboia Lawn-Bowling Club.
He made a large contribution to the sport of curling. In 1908, with Walter Payne and Robert Gourley, he co-founded the Strathcona Curling Club and he served as its President (1910-1912). He also served as President of the Manitoba Curling Association (1912-1913). When the Dominion Curling Association (forerunner to the Canadian Curling Association) was formed, he served as its first President (1935-1938). When the Macdonald Tobacco Company established the Dominion Men's Curling Championship in 1927, curling began to have a national focus. Haig was one of the three trustees appointed to guide the organization in its infancy. He served for 36 years as Western Trustee and as Chairman (1952-1962). He was made an Honorary Life Member of the Strathcona Curling Club, Manitoba Curling Association (1936), and Canadian Curling Association (1940).
He died on 23 October 1962 and was buried in the Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery. He was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Curling Association Hall of Fame (1973), Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1995), and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2013).
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1915.
“Mrs. J. T. Haig, wife of P.C. Senator, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 August 1953.
“John Haig dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 October 1962, page 3.
Ramsay Cook (editor), The Dafoe-Sifton Correspondence, 1919-1927. Manitoba Record Society, 1966, page 287.
Website, Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
Website, Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame.
Website, Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
We thank Rick Mutton for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 October 2023