Memorable Manitobans: John Edward Wilson (1878-1956)
Born at Renfrew, Ontario on 22 May 1878, son of James Wilson and Mary Ann Macmillan, both of his parents died by the time he was three years of age. He went to live with the Garvey family south of Buckingham, Quebec until he ran away three and a half years later and walked to Ottawa. He was admitted to the St. Patrick’s Catholic Orphans’ Home which placed him as a helper on the farm of Hugh McKay at Metcalfe, Ontario. He left in 1891 to work successively at sawmills, a lumber camp, and a woolen mill.
In the spring of 1895, he traveled west, arriving at Pilot Mound where he worked as a farmhand and carpenter. He took a course at the Winnipeg Business College and continued carpentry work in Manitoba and New York. Returning to Winnipeg in February 1902, he began buying lots and constructing homes on them for sale. He built several apartment blocks as well as the Winnipeg Sanatorium. During the First World War, he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Returning afterwards, he worked in the building trade at Chicago, Illinois. He later returned to Winnipeg.
On 26 February 1902, he married Christina Reddy (c1879-1910) and they had three children: Florence Corinne Wilson (1903-?, wife of ? Anderson), Oliver Edward Wilson (1904-?), and ? Wilson (?-?, wife of Bruce Amos). On 2 April 1913, he married a second time, to Rose M. Weightman (?-?). He attended the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches, and was a member of the IOOF, Order of Foresters, Adanac Club, and Greater Winnipeg Builders Exchange.
Some of his construction works in Manitoba included:
Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary [Christina Wilson], Winnipeg Tribune, 21 June 1910, page 5.
“New apartment block [Almonte Apartments],” Manitoba Free Press, 10 April 1911, page 13.
Attestation Papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 26 April 1956, page 41.
We thank Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 13 August 2023