Memorable Manitobans: Alfred Arthur Sinnott (1877-1954)
Born at Kelly’s Cross, Prince Edward Island on 22 February 1877, his father John Sinnott was a public works contractor, and was engaged in the construction of a bridge at Crapaud when the future Archbishop was born. His mother was one of a gifted family named McAuley, and two cousins have made the name McInerney well known, one as a speaker in the House of Commons at Ottawa, the other by his medical skill in the city of St. John, New Brunswick. His boyhood years were spent at his father’s farm facing St. Peter’s Harbor. At the age of 13 years, he passed the matriculation examination admitting him to the Prince of Wales College at Charlottetown. In September 1891 he began classical studies at St. Dustan’s College.
After further studies at Montreal he took his BA degree at Laval University. In 1896, he entered the Grand Seminary at Montreal where he obtained a double degree in Theology and Canon Law. In 1899 he went to Rome for a post graduate course of Canon Law at the Apolinare and won the further degree of D.C.L. On 18 February 1900, he was ordained Priest by Archbishop Stonor at the Canadian College, Rome. In the summer of 1901, he returned to Canada and was appointed Professor at St. Dustan’s College. Two years later he was chosen to be Private Secretary to Cardinal Sbarretti then Apostolic Delegate to Canada. He continued his office of Secretary under the next Papal Delegate, Mgr. Stagni, and in 1907 was invested with the rank of Monsignor. His thirteen years tenure of office at Ottawa gave him a good working knowledge of ecclesiastical affairs in Canada.
Appointed Archbishop of Winnipeg on 9 December 1915, he was installed in St. Mary’s Cathedral and, under his rule, the Archdiocese of Winnipeg built new churches and more than 100 new missions, built seven hospitals (St. Josephs, Russell, Birtle, Gimli, Winnipegosis, Ste. Rose du Lac, and Swan River), established an infants’ home and Camp Morton for children on Lake Winnipeg, and augmented the ranks of English-speaking clergy. In 1926, he established St. Paul’s College, initially in a building on Selkirk Avenue, later occupying the buildings and property on Ellice Avenue formerly comprising Manitoba College, and later (after Sinnott’s death) joining the University of Manitoba at its Fort Garry campus. He retired from active clerical work in 1946 and resigned as Archbishop in January 1952.
He died at Winnipeg on 18 April 1954 and was buried in the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery. He is commemorated by the Sinnott Building at the University of Manitoba.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Archbishop Sinnott dies in 78th year,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1954, page 10.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 19 November 2020