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MULVEY, STEWART, teacher, newspaper editor, militia officer, office holder, and politician; b. May 1834 in Sligo (Republic of Ireland), son of Henry Mulvey and Barbara McGee; m. first 1856 Rebecca A. Gilmore, and they had five or six children; m. secondly 1900 Jenny H. —, widow of J. W. Rich; d. 26 May 1908 in Vancouver.

From age 16 Stewart Mulvey taught in both the Irish National School system and the schools of the Church Educational Society. During a visit to Ireland in 1856 Egerton Ryerson*, superintendent of education for Upper Canada, was impressed by the young teacher and invited him to the province. Later that year Mulvey took up a position at Central School in Hamilton, but he subsequently moved to Haldimand County, where he taught school, edited the local newspaper, organized and presided over the Haldimand County Teachers’ Association, and served as a lieutenant in the 37th (Haldimand) Battalion of Rifles. In 1870 he was commissioned an ensign in the Red River expeditionary force under Colonel Garnet Joseph Wolseley* and on 14 May left for the Red River settlement (Man.) with No.4 Company of the 1st (Ontario) Battalion of Rifles.

On 18 Sept. 1870, shortly after his arrival in Winnipeg, Mulvey joined with nine others to form the first Orange lodge in the northwest, No.1307. Over the winter interest in the lodge was such that initiations had to be carried out twice weekly; thus by 12 July 1871 when Mulvey, its new master, led a procession at Armstrong’s Point (Winnipeg) to celebrate the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne there were over 100 members. Mulvey was a man of extreme Protestant views and the Orange order was of central importance in his life. He was elected the first grand master on 21 March 1872, a position he held for 14 years. He continued to play a prominent part in the order for the rest of his time in Winnipeg and was considered by many to be the father of Orangeism in the west.

After Wolseley’s troops were disbanded in June 1871, Mulvey had become editor of the Manitoba Liberal in Winnipeg, which was launched on 11 July. The newspaper was fiercely critical of Métis leader Louis Riel* and later of the province’s first lieutenant governor, Adams George Archibald*. Mulvey resented Archibald’s efforts to placate Riel and his colleagues and he used the Manitoba Liberal to foment “loyalism” and anti-Métis opinion. His columns and his opinions were eagerly picked up by the Protestant Ontario press. When it was learned that Archibald had submitted his resignation, Mulvey and John Christian Schultz*, leader of the Canadian party, led a demonstration on 24 April 1872 that burned Riel and the lieutenant governor in effigy. Mulvey was a key contributor to the tense atmosphere in Manitoba throughout Archibald’s term of office. On the demise of the Manitoba Liberal in 1873 he was appointed a collector with the Department of Inland Revenue, a position he held until 1882. Three years later, during the North-West rebellion, he served as a major in the 95th Battalion (Manitoba Grenadiers).

Mulvey’s most positive contribution to Winnipeg was in the realm of education. In July 1871 he had been elected a school trustee, one of three empowered to establish the public school system in Winnipeg. He helped draft the province’s first education act and over the next 30 years was consulted about both amendments and new legislation. Long-time secretary-treasurer of the Winnipeg School Board, he was a member of the Board of Education of Manitoba for 11 years. A Winnipeg street and school were named after him, the school fittingly situated on Wolseley Avenue.

Mulvey also served as an alderman on the Winnipeg City Council from 1883 to 1888. He was one of two aldermen to survive when a citizens’ ticket formed in 1884 attempted a clean sweep of the council.

A convinced Conservative during his early years in Winnipeg and an ardent supporter of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald*, Mulvey had unsuccessfully contested the federal riding of Selkirk in 1882. Afterwards, however, he tended to side increasingly with the Liberals in their opposition to the monopoly of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1889 he declared himself an independent, but he supported D’Alton McCarthy* and the Equal Rights Association and subsequently the provincial Liberal government of Thomas Greenway in its efforts to abolish the dual public school system. Elected to the Legislative Assembly for Morris as an independent in 1896, he was defeated in 1899, whereupon he retired from politics.

A man of strong opinions, Mulvey was nevertheless kindly and courteous in his personal relationships and was noted for his scrupulous integrity. He was popular in the city to which he had contributed so much and when he retired to North Vancouver in 1907 a public banquet was held in his honour. He died in Vancouver and was buried in Winnipeg.

John E. Kendle

PAM, MG 3, D1; MG 12, A; E; MG 14, B48; C15; C66. Manitoba Free Press, November 1872–1908. Alexander Begg and W. R. Nursey, Ten years in Winnipeg: a narration of the principal events in the history of the city of Winnipeg from the year A.D. 1870 to the year A.D. 1879, inclusive (Winnipeg, 1879). George Bryce, Early days in Winnipeg (Winnipeg, 1894); Hist. of Man. C. J. Houston and W. J. Smyth, The sash Canada wore: a historical geography of the Orange order in Canada (Toronto, 1980). N. E. A. Ronaghan, “The Archibald administration in Manitoba – 1870–1872” (phd thesis, Univ. of Man., Winnipeg, 1986).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

John E. Kendle, “MULVEY, STEWART,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 30, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mulvey_stewart_13E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mulvey_stewart_13E.html
Author of Article:   John E. Kendle
Title of Article:   MULVEY, STEWART
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1994
Year of revision:   1994
Access Date:   September 30, 2023