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Memorable Manitobans: Hector Mansfield Howell (1842-1918)

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Hector Mansfield Howell
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Lawyer, judge.

Born in Hastings County, Ontario on 17 September 1842, son of Charles Howell. He was of United Empire Loyalist stock on both sides of his family. He was educated in the local schools and at Albert College in Belleville, where he obtained his arts degree. He was examined in law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1871.

He practised law in Barrie with Dalton McCarthy, and then in Uxbridge, Ontario, before accepting an invitation to join Heber Archibald in Winnipeg in 1878, with whom he was associated for nineteen years. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1886, at which time he was senior partner with the law firm of Howell, Hudson, Ormond and Marlatt. He was appointed Puisne Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1906, and served until 1909 when he replaced Joseph Dubuc as Chief Justice, holding the position until his death. He was a Bencher (1898-1906) and President (1904-1906) for the Law Society of Manitoba.

He was a unsuccessful candidate for the Winnipeg constituency in the 1880 provincial by-election. In 1890 he defended Liberal attorney general Joseph E. Martin in a famous libel trial involving the editor of the Manitoba Free Press, William Luxton. The Manitoba Schools Question led him to become a Liberal.

On 14 July 1875, he married Harriett Susanah Lally (1851-1909) of Barrie, Ontario. They had five children: Edmund Howell (1876-1916), Emma Howell (1877-1903), Harriette Anne Lally Howell (1879-1949, wife of Richard Wellington Kenny), Constance Lally Howell (1883-1961, wife of Charles E. Pentland, mother of composer Barbara Pentland), and Sybil Howell (1886-1963). In 1881, his home on Carlton Street was designed by architect B. C. Kenway.

A founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society and the St. Charles Country Club, he served as president of the Winnipeg Rowing Club, and in 1886 was elected president of the Winnipeg and St. Paul (Minnesota) Rowing Club. In 1900 he was President of the St. David’s Society and subsequently Honorary President.

He died on 7 April 1918 from injuries sustained in a fall from a streetcar in Long Beach, California earlier that year.

See also:

“Eminent Winnipeggers. No. VII. Mr. H. M. Howell.” Undated newspaper clipping in Manitoba Historical Scrapbook MB1, page 9, Manitoba Legislative Library.

Hector Mansfield Howell, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Marriage registration, Ancestry.

The Leading Financial, Business & Professional Men of Winnipeg, published by Edwin McCormick, Photographs by T. J. Leatherdale, Compiled and printed by Stone Limited, c1913. [copy available at the Archives of Manitoba]

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.

We thank Keith Jones for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 3 April 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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