Memorable Manitobans: James Osborne McLenaghen (1891-1950)
Lawyer, MLA (1927-1932), MLA (1933-1936), MLA (1937-1940), MLA (1941-1945), MLA (1946-1949), MLA (1950).
Born at Balderson, Ontario on 4 September 1891, son of John McLenaghen and Elspeth McIlquhan, he was educated at Balderson before the family settled at Portage la Prairie. He attended the Portage Collegiate Institute and the University of Manitoba (BA degree). He was articled in law to Arthur Meighen and was called to the Bar in 1918. He practised with William Raymond Sexsmith at Portage la Prairie for a year, then went to Selkirk where he continued his legal career, and was made a King’s Counsel in 1937.
On 29 March 1919, he married Katherine Maria “Katie”Newman (1895-1976, daughter of Thomas Alexander Newman) of Portage la Prairie, with whom he had three children: Thomas Newman (1924-1997), Jean McLenaghen, and Elspeth McLenaghen. He was first elected Conservative MLA for Kildonan in 1927, and was re-elected in 1932, 1936, 1941, 1945, and for the new St. Andrews riding in 1949. He held the portfolios of Health (1940-1944), Attorney General (1941-1950), and Labour (1944-1946). In August 1931, McLenaghen joined Selkirk Mayor J. J. Bell to lobby Public Works Minister William Reid Clubb to develop a bridge across the Red River at Selkirk as a relief project. The bridge was completed in 1937. In 1932, he was elected to the Selkirk School Board and served as its Chair as of 1934.
He died at his home in Little Britain on 23 June 1950 and was buried in the Little Britain Cemetery. There are some papers at the Archives of Manitoba.
Ontario birth registration, Ancestry.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Five Manitoba lawyers made King’s Counsel,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 January 1937. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]
“Cabinet,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1940, page 11.
“Hon. J. O. McLenaghen, Attorney-General dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 June 1950. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 147]
“History shadows scene of McLenaghen funeral,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 1950. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 148]
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Selkirk: The First Hundred Years by Barry Potyondi, Josten’s Nationa School Services 1981, page 133.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Ken Howard and Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Sarah Ramsden.
Page revised: 7 June 2022