Alfred Boyd | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Alfred Boyd

Alfred Boyd, merchant, politician (born ca. 1836 in England; died 16 August 1908 in England). Alfred Boyd is often referred to as Manitoba’s first premier, though his title was provincial secretary, and he did not head the government. A merchant and fur trader in Red River, Boyd was elected to the Convention of Forty in January 1870. In September 1870, he was appointed provincial secretary by Lieutenant-Governor Adams George Archibald. Elected as the MLA for St. Andrew's North in 1870, Boyd briefly served as minister of public works and agriculture and minister of education. He served only one term and returned to his native England around 1899.

Red River Colony

Alfred Boyd arrived in the Red River Colony by 1858. Prior to the Red River Resistance of 1869–70, Boyd operated a general store and was engaged in the fur trade. He was elected as an English delegate to the Convention of Forty, which met on 28 January 1870 to decide the fate of the colony. Known for harbouring anti-Métis sentiments, Boyd abstained from the vote that elected Louis Riel president of the settlement’s provisional government. In the event the colony should join Confederation, Boyd thought it best to enter as a territory rather than a province. Riel later referred to Boyd as “one of the most decided against us.”

Provincial Secretary

In September 1870, Boyd was appointed provincial secretary by Lieutenant-Governor Adams George Archibald. Archibald described Boyd as “a man of fair abilities, of considerable means, and very popular among English half-breeds” who was also “not obnoxious to the French.” The Weekly Manitoban, a pro-government newspaper, called Boyd “calm, shrewd, always cool.”

Archibald, sir Adams George

Member of the Legislative Assembly

Elected as the MLA for St. Andrew's North on 30 December 1870, Boyd was appointed minister of public works and agriculture on 10 January 1871. He resigned from that post on 9 December 1871 to make way for a representation of the English-speaking Métis. (He was succeeded by John Norquay.) While continuing to serve his only term, Boyd was a founding member of the Council of the North-West Territories, the lieutenant-governor’s advisory council, in December 1872. He also served as Manitoba’s minister of education from March to October 1873. He did not seek re-election.

Later Life

Boyd helped establish the Winnipeg Board of Trade in 1873. He acquired considerable business and real estate interests in Winnipeg before leaving Manitoba around 1899. He then settled in England, where he died a wealthy man in 1908. Boyd Avenue in Winnipeg was named in his honour.

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