Memorable Manitobans: Anne Ethel “Nan” Murphy (1902-1990)
Educator, community activist.
Born at Arnaud on 7 October 1902, one of ten children of Duncan Gilchrist (1868-1946) and Eliza Ann Carleton (c1876-1965), she graduated from the Brandon Normal School and taught at Mount Vernon School (1922-1923) and elsewhere before moving to Winnipeg. On 17 September 1930, she married John William Howard Murphy (1900-1979) at Winnipeg and they had two sons: Leslie Howard “Les” Murphy (1932-1989) and John Kenneth “Ken” Murphy.
She was the second female Chairman of the Winnipeg School Board (1955-1956) and was President of the Manitoba Urban Trustees Association (1953-1954) and later President of the Canadian School Trustees Association. She was Manager of the Industrial Workshop of the Society of Crippled Children and Adults from 1958 to 1967. She was a member of the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, Manitoba Volunteer Committee on the Status of Women, and Manitoba Committee on Emotional and Learning Disorders. She was an unsuccessful Liberal-Progressive candidate in the 1953 and 1958 provincial general elections.
In recognition of her community service, she received a Coronation Medal (1953), Golden Boy Award (1961), Canadian Centennial Medal (1967), and was named the Women’s Advertising Club’s Woman of the Year in 1961. The University of Winnipeg gave her an honorary doctorate in 1974.
She died at Winnipeg on 10 April 1990 and was buried in the Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.
Birth registration [Annie Ethel Gilchrist], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Death registration [Duncan Gilchrist], British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“Mrs. H. Murphy elected to head urban trustees,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 January 1953, page 16.
“Legislature needs woman’s view, says Nan Murphy,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 June 1958, page 8.
Obituary [Eliza Ann Gilchrist], Winnipeg Tribune, 27 March 1965, page 36.
“Record of service,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 November 1967.
Obituary [Howard Murphy], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 March 1979, page 79.
Obituary [Leslie Howard Murphy], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 1989, page 43.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 April 1990, page 45.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Joshua Watt for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 16 March 2023