Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/10/2014 (1922 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Most people probably know something about Winnipeg’s current mayoral candidates but likely do not know much about some of our past mayors, some of whom were quite colourful.
Winnipeg has had 43 mayors since it was incorporated in 1873.
Francis Evans Cornish was the first and perhaps one of the most scandal-plagued Winnipeg mayors. Historian Hartwell Bowsfield said, "he gained a reputation as the ‘rowdy’ mayor, being charged by opponents with bigamy, assault, drunkenness," etc.
Cornish, a lawyer, came to Winnipeg in 1872 from London, Ont., where he had been mayor for a few years. He was defeated in 1864 when London called in the militia to ensure an honest election.
After his defeat, Cornish came to Winnipeg where he was elected mayor in 1874 with 383 votes while his opponent, William Luxton, the editor of the Free Press, received 179. Only 388 voters had been registered, leading author Alexander Begg, then, to note that, suspiciously, there had been "a large number" of repeat votes.
John Queen was another colourful mayor who ran the city for eight years in the 1930s. Born in Scotland, he came to Winnipeg in 1906.
Identified as a strike leader during the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike he was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison. It didn’t hurt his popularit,y for he was elected to the Manitoba legislature later that year and served for over 20 years.
Labelled a socialist, Queen was first elected mayor in 1935, the first time in the city’s history that labour parties elected more people to city council than pro-business candidates. These were the Depression years and Queen quickly took action to improve conditions for the unemployed. He sought to improve labour conditions, city housing, hospitals and the care of the sick, young and the aged.
Queen married feminist Katherine Ross and they lived near the CPR yards at 1452 Ross Ave. for most of their lives.
Stephen Juba is perhaps Winnipeg’s most well-known mayor. The charismatic, selfmade millionaire of Ukrainian descent grew up poor. He was first elected in 1957 and held his seat for 20 years, the first Ukrainian-Canadian to hold the office.
Juba helped bring into being the Disraeli Freeway, the new city hall, the Centennial Library, the Winnipeg Convention Centre and Folklorama.
Like Queen, Juba lived for many years in a modest home near the CPR tracks on William Avenue.
It took 118 years but the first female mayor in Winnipeg history was finally elected in 1992. Susan Thompson grew up in St. James and bought and ran her family’s business, Birt’s Saddlery, before running for Mayor.
She was the first woman Rotarian in Manitoba.
Thompson held the seat for six years leading the city through the ‘Flood of the Century’ in 1997.
Cheryl Girard is a community correspondent for West Kildonan. You can contact her at email@example.com
West Kildonan community correspondent
Cheryl Girard is a community correspondent for West Kildonan.