Premier John Norquay

John Norquay (d.1889, aged 48).

John Norquay became the Premier of Manitoba in1878, following Premier Davis. The sixth premier of Manitoba, John Norquay was the first (and last, to date) premier of Manitoba of native heritage.  Norquay was born in the Red River settlement in 1841, of Scottish/native descent. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by family members and educated at the Red River Academy. He became a teacher and a farmer. His mastery of six languages was an asset in the multilingual Red River Settlement, and in 1871 he was elected MLA for the constituency of High Bluff in the first parliament of Manitoba. The better-known Louis Riel was the spokesperson for the French Metis, and Norquay was the leader of the English-speaking people of mixed blood. Norquay supported Riel’s aims for the people of Red River, but disapproved of his tactics, and was instrumental, along with Riel, in attaining provincial status for Manitoba in 1870. He served as premier of the new province from 1878 to 1887. His Government fell in 1887 as a result of questionnable financial transactions between the Government and the Hudson’s Bay Railway.

A member of St. John’s, Norquay was a delegate to the first Synod of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land in 1875.

He was buried at St. John’s Cemetery where a monument bears this message:

“To the Memory of The Hon. John Norquay
Who was for many years Premier of Manitoba.
By his sudden and all too early death
His native land lost an eloquent speaker
An honest Statesman and a true friend.
Born May 8, 1841, Died July 5, 1889
This monument is a Public expression of his sterling worth.”